Nearly 400 people at a summit on racism in Winnipeg today are being asked what they can or can't do to address it.

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This article was published 18/9/2015 (2477 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Nearly 400 people at a summit on racism in Winnipeg today are being asked what they can or can't do to address it.

Speakers from Winnipeg, Alberta and the U.S. at The Mayor's Summit On Racial Inclusion were put on the spot during the question and answer session this morning when a young audience member asked if they weren't preaching to the converted.

"People who are racist don't think they have a problem," said 11-year-old Tait Palsson, asking if those who needed to be there and hear the messages of racial inclusion weren't absent.

Talking to people who acknowledge racism exists and encouraging them to address it is one way the summit can help race relations, said speaker Charlene Hay, a teacher from Alberta who has developed racial inclusion programs.

"White people can speak up and they need to speak up," Hay told the mostly Caucasian crowd.

"When we hear that racist joke we need to say 'That's deeply hurtful'."

The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says it was excluded from Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman's national summit on race relations.

The organization that represents First Nations political leaders in Manitoba said it was left out of the gathering on combating racism.

The AMC said in a news release it wasn't invited to take part in ONE: The Mayor's National Summit on Racial Inclusion.

The AMC said it stood by the mayor when he called a news conference to address race relations after a national magazine labelled Winnipeg Canada's most racist city. The article featured indigenous residents who bear the brunt of the bigotry.

Bowman set out to address the problem by organizing a national summit with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. The political advocacy group that represents the leadership of First Nations said today it doesn't know why it wasn't invited to the gathering.

"It is baffling," the AMC release said.

At the summit, the mayor wouldn't refer to the AMC specifically but told reporters that invitations were issued. A spokeswoman for the AMC said by email that it was an "11th hour" offer to attend the summit, not a proper invitation.

"The discussion about the National Summit on 'Racial Inclusion' has been ongoing for several of weeks now. The AMC had anticipated an invite to an important discussion. We contacted the Mayor's office on another matter and at the same time we expressed our concern about not being invited to the Summit. The response from the Mayor's office was an offer of a ticket at the 11th hour, which we do not believe is an invitation."

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.