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This article was published 18/10/2018 (463 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Mayoral candidate Don Woodstock is promising to impose quotas for hiring, training and promotion of Indigenous people on the civic workforce if he wins the election next week.
Woodstock said city hall’s efforts to assist the Indigenous community have largely been symbolic and ineffective at addressing real change.
"Why is (the quota) important? That’s how we get people out of poverty, that’s how we get people out of crime," Woodstock said Thursday at a news conference adjacent to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. "I’m suggesting we can do better."
Woodstock was accompanied at the event by Ron Evans, the former grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, who endorsed Woodstock for mayor.
Evans, whose firm is working to be recognized as a qualified provider of Indigenous awareness training, said Woodstock was the only mayoral candidate to approach him about what he was doing and what could be done to change the environment for Indigenous people at city hall.
"That says a lot about Don and that’s why I would encourage others to support him," Evans said. "He may not be the most popular candidate at this time but he certainly has the right ideas," adding he is impressed with Woodstock’s other campaign commitments, including his promise to direct city spending towards inner-city youth sports.
Woodstock said civic officials told him that only about eight per cent of the civic workforce identifies as Indigenous, which he said is below the 13 per cent representation in the greater community. That number is expected to increase to more than 20 per cent by 2020, he said, adding city hall needs to do more.
Woodstock said that hiring, training and promoting more Indigenous people would demonstrate that the city is truly inclusive.
Woodstock and Evans dismissed previous initiatives that have been undertaken by city hall to help Indigenous people.
City hall established its Indigenous relations division in 2013. In response to the 2015 Maclean’s magazine article that identified Winnipeg as the country’s most racist city, Mayor Brian Bowman created the Winnipeg Accord, where individuals, business and organizations commit to improve how they deal with the Indigenous community and publicly acknowledge their efforts.
City council has mandated Indigenous awareness training for all civic employees, politicians and their staff. Bowman created an Indigenous advisory council for his office and the Winnipeg Police Board also set up a similar body for itself.
Evans said there is little to show for those efforts.
"We’ve looked (at what city hall has done) but it’s not very meaningful, it’s all symbolic stuff," he said. "If (all this) was working, we wouldn’t have the issues were dealing with currently."
Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.
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