Racism, yes it’s awkward and no one wants to talk about it. But Yellowknife’s Mayor Mark Heyck wants to talk about it. Heyck believes that confronting racist comments head on and making it awkward will allow society to move forward.
“The idea is that when you see or hear people making racist or insensitive comments, hurling racial slurs that you speak up, you don’t let it pass by, or chuckle and keep walking. You have to make it awkward. The idea is to encourage societal change and change social norms.”
The “Make it Awkward” movement started in Edmonton after a local man peacefully confronted a couple of people who had called him derogatory names as they drove by in their vehicle. The incident was filmed and shared on social media and created the movement #makeitawkward.
Fifty two percent of the population in the NWT is indigenous and while we have heard of all the terrible things that happened to indigenous people in residential schools and through colonialism, we haven’t seen any discussion about the other side… the years of racist indoctrination of Canadians teaching them to hate and despise indigenous people.
Mayor Mark Heyck is not afraid to have the difficult conversations about racism and he and City of Yellowknife staff have committed to residential school training for all City of Yellowknife staff.