Mayor John Higham took the unusual step of delivering a brief statement condemning what he termed “systemic racism” at the opening of Monday night’s Sackville Town Council meeting held online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This has been a particularly overwhelming week for many people,” Higham began. “The world seems rather relentless and unforgiving in the last little while.”
He added that while people have been facing the pandemic and issues such as climate change, racial matters seem to have become what he called a “defining moment” for the country.
“I can’t say that I understand what it’s like to be subjected to systemic racism,” Higham said. “But I do know that systemic, anti-black as well as anti-indigenous racism, lives in Canada and unfortunately, it’s also present in Sackville.”
The mayor urged everyone to support human rights.
“We unmistakably condemn racism, violence and discrimination of any kind,” he said.
“I want our black and indigenous colleagues, residents in communities across this province and this country, to know that we here stand in solidarity with you in the fight to defeat racism.”
Councillor Bill Evans echoed the mayor’s comments saying that he was delighted to see hundreds of Sackville residents participate in last Wednesday’s silent vigil outside Sackville’s main post office.
“It was yet another reason why I’m proud of our community,” Evans said, adding that while everyone has seen examples of individual racism, the systemic kind also exists.
“People who would never consider themselves racist can, without knowing it or intending it, be racist and even more likely, be part of and beneficiaries of systemic racism,” he said.
“We need to educate ourselves about this reality and its history, remove the blinkers of our white privilege and commit to doing whatever we can to call out and eliminate this centuries-old scourge wherever it exists,” Evans concluded.
To read a transcript of the two statements, click here.
I see that the windbag is at it again. I haven’t seen racism in Sackville, except for anti-white PC claptrap. What we have in endless supply is hot air.
You know what we actually DO have in Sackville that’s a problem? Classism. But that’s not fashionable to talk about, so we’ll never hear it from those two.
The comment here is a clear example that some white people still remain oblivious to the reality of systemic racism. There is much to learn. The book that opened my eyes was “White Fragility“. I was part of a church book study group, so we would read a few chapters and then meet to talk about what we had read. We had been completely unaware of some of the ways in which we were part of the racist white oppressors. We all are aware of it now, and trying to do the work necessary to change ourselves. Thanks to Mayor Higham and Councillor Bill Evans for speaking up.
You seem to imply that I’m white.
Wow! Marika, my response to your comment turned out to be, in itself, a blatant example of systemic racism. If you are not white, I apologize. You are right, my assumption was that you are white. But even if you ARE white, my thinking was racist in that I assumed you were. I guess this is what I mean…we whites have to be called out on our racist behaviours and we need to own them and do all we can to change. Thank you for that. I should go on to say that if you are not white, even if you have not personally seen racism in Sackville, it is here. Racism of the systemic kind — is the way our entire society is structured, and that has to be changed.
(Replying to myself since we reached the maximum reply level otherwise.)
Thanks Janet, but really, there’s nothing to apologize for – I don’t find it insulting in the slightest. It’s a natural assumption to make in a town that is probably 95% white. I would also assume that you are white, if I thought about it, which I don’t, because it doesn’t matter to me unless I’m buying you makeup or hair products.
Ask students attending Mount Allison if they have ever encountered racism in Sackville. You will get an honest earful. What would one call the shooting down of Chantel Moore by Edmundston police on a “wellness” call anything else but racism? Read the history of white settler Canadians’ systematic attempt to destroy Indigenous lives and culture and find another name for it if you can. And then say that no such toxic ideas simmer in Sackville. Covid19 is revealing the deep divisions caused by race and you bet class here and around the world. And a ravaged economy with more and more people living on the edge and falling over the edge into joblessness and poverty will happen in our community. And something else will be happening too. What I am talking about is the old strategy of local organizing; of citizens coming together not just to bleat at town council meetings but to ACT: to strengthen food for everyone who needs food; to save our hospital; to continue earth heating awareness; to form clothes and furniture exchanges; to examine community and police interaction. In other words, to come together to support the most vulnerable in our community. The rich always manage to take care of themselves, usually at the expense of what we see now as “disposable” human beings. So thank you John and Bill for your remarks, thank you to the 300 people who turned out to stand against police brutality.
It was nice to see the Mayor and Councillor Evans prepare statements for the meeting.
I believe actions are stronger then words. I have witnessed in our community situations that were to say the least shameful. However I chose not to act nor did others who were around.
All the words in the world will not help us be better human beings. However everyone’s individual actions will.