Letter to The Globe and Mail

May 25, 2018

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba


 May 25, 2018 

David Walmsley
The Globe and Mail
351 King Street East, Suite 1600
Toronto, ON., M5A 0N1 


Dear Mr. Walmsley, 

I was shocked to read the May 22, 2018 opinion piece by Benjamin Shinewald titled: The Jets are out, but Winnipeg is definitely ‘in.’ 

I thought I was going to be reading another story about the Winnipeg Jets and their unprecedented play-off run, but then it took a dark turn into another racist diatribe about Indigenous people in Winnipeg. 

As you are probably aware Mr. Shinewald wrote about Manitoba’s economic performance but then went onto discuss, in his opinion, those “in the city who lag behind, including sizable parts of the city’s large Indigenous community, some of whom live in deplorable conditions. This is a terrible stain on an otherwise impressive recent economic record.” 

I would hope that Mr. Shinewald’s intent was to highlight how unacceptable it is for First Nations citizens to be living in third world conditions while calling out the City of Winnipeg at large for turning a blind eye to this. However, that is not how it came across when in the very next paragraph he wrote: “But other groups in Winnipeg are currently thriving, and they are at the heart of the city’s success.” 

So what does that say about First Nation citizens? It perpetuates the tired stereotype of “lazy Indians.” The general public isn’t going to look for a deeper meaning in Mr. Shinewald’s words. They are going to take it at face value and compare the “terrible stain” that is the Indigenous population in Winnipeg with the “extraordinary work ethic,” “hard-working,” communities of Filipinos, Portuguese, South Asians, Jewish, Ukrainian, British-descendants, and others with their “impressive industriousness.” 

It is this type of writing that serves to keep pushing our First Nations citizens down, while feeding into the systemic racism of the workforce. Imagine, if the writer held up First Nations as the largest growing segment of the population, that our children will be the economic boom this country is looking for, and that it is the First Nations that will make the greatest positive impact on the economy? The Globe and Mail and Mr. Shinewald had an opportunity to make this point, instead your publication allowed yet another racist opinion to find its way into your newspaper. 

I’d also like to point out that I know several Winnipeg Jets season ticketholders, who are First Nations, who work very hard to contribute to the “city’s success,” and enjoyed going to the play-off games. 

I, once again, encourage the Globe and Mail, its writers and editors to carefully consider the words and messages you publish as they do continue to perpetuate stereotypes and help foster racist opinions of First Nations in Canada. Do better. 


Grand Chief Arlen Dumas