August 9, 2020

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Majority view racism as provincial problem: poll

People becoming more aware of issue due to recent protests, professor says

John Woods / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES</p><p>People march in solidarity with the George Floyd protests across the United States in Winnipeg in June. A recent survey found that 72 per cent of Manitobans feel the protests in Canada are justified.</p>

John Woods / THE CANADIAN PRESS FILES

People march in solidarity with the George Floyd protests across the United States in Winnipeg in June. A recent survey found that 72 per cent of Manitobans feel the protests in Canada are justified.

Five years after Maclean’s magazine dubbed Winnipeg the most racist city in Canada, a new survey by Prairie Research Associates shows more Manitobans now believe racism is a problem.

In 2015, 44 per cent of Manitobans thought racism was a problem, according to a survey at the time by the Winnipeg-based research company. A new poll released this week by PRA shows a big jump: with 61 per cent of Manitobans now viewing racism as a problem in the province.

"I think more people are seeing it," said Lori Wilkinson, a University of Manitoba sociology professor. "You ask people their opinions about anything, and it really depends on what’s newsworthy or what’s being discussed online."

Wilkinson specializes in racism and survey methodology. She said people are becoming more aware of racism due to recent local, national and international protests and subsequent media coverage.

"Public opinions on almost anything changes based on what the discourse in society happens to be at that time," she said Friday.

On May 25, a 46-year-old Black man, George Floyd, was killed by police in Minneapolis, sparking global protests, including a continuing series of events in Winnipeg.

The new PRA survey results show 77 per cent of Manitobans strongly, or somewhat, agree the protests in the United States are justified.

A Justice 4 Black Lives rally June 5 drew thousands for a march from the Manitoba Legislative Building to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights; 72 per cent of Manitobans said the current protests in Canada are justified.

The youngest age group — 18 to 29 years old — supported the movement the most, with 84 per cent saying they agree with such protests in Canada.

Recent protests in Winnipeg and across North America have also pushed to defund police departments. The PRA survey shows two-thirds of Manitobans believe there is a systemic racism problem within Canadian police services.

Thirty-seven per cent of respondents said the relations are negative between Black people and people of colour with non-people of colour.

Reconciliation and relations with Indigenous people in Manitoba continues to be a topic of conversation. According to the 2015 PRA survey, only 45 per cent of Manitobans believed relations between non-Indigenous and Indigenous people were negative; that number jumps to 71 per cent in the new poll.

The research firm surveyed a random sample of 2,033 Manitobans from June 23-July 3. According to PRA, because this sample is a non-probability sample, no error rate can be calculated. A random population survey of this size would yield an error rate of plus or minus 2.2 per cent (19 times out of 20).

kellen.taniguchi@freepress.mb.ca

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