Saskatoon MLA recounts granddaughters' racist encounter

·3 min read
Betty Nippi-Albright, NDP MLA for Saskatoon Centre, took to social media to recount a racist encounter her granddaughters experienced.  (Kirk Fraser/CBC - image credit)
Betty Nippi-Albright, NDP MLA for Saskatoon Centre, took to social media to recount a racist encounter her granddaughters experienced. (Kirk Fraser/CBC - image credit)

An MLA from Saskatoon is sharing a racist encounter her young grandchildren had with a stranger earlier this week.

Betty Nippi-Albright, MLA for the Saskatoon Centre constituency, is an Indigenous woman from Kinistin Saulteaux Nation.

She said that on Tuesday, her young granddaughters had an experience while walking home from school with their dad when a man yelled out his car window.

"A Caucasian male yelled out 'you little f----ing savages,' is what he told my little grandchildren," Nippi-Albright said. "The children were just so frightened by being called that and the tone and the angry person that called them that, they were very upset."

She said the children's mother spent a lot of time talking to them, explaining that what had happened to them was not right.

"I was so frustrated as a grandmother because this is not the first time that's happened to my grandchildren or to Indigenous children," she said. "It's one thing to be racist against adults, but it's another thing when it's directed to small children that do not have the capacity to speak up and address racism."

Nippi-Albright made a social media post detailing the incident. She said the people commenting on the post helped her grandchildren feel supported and validated.

"That is just one example of how racism is so entrenched in our society in Saskatchewan," she said. "However, they're not as blatant as what happened with my grandchildren, they're very covert and they're easily justified."

Nippi-Albright said the reason her granddaughter's father did not go to the police was because of systemic racism in the police sector.

"There's an issue there, and this is what we face as visible Indigenous people, he has faced many many racist comments," she said. "What recourse do the police have in addressing that? How do they stop that?

"For us to report that in this case, to the police, they're not going to care."

The Saskatoon Police said in a statement that it encourages people to report incidents where they feel threatened or if their safety is in jeopardy.

"Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community," it said.

Government response to systemic racism

Nippi-Albright said when she brought up her concerns about systemic racism in the legislative assembly on May 10, it was met with the "same rhetoric."

In a statement, the Government of Saskatchewan said systemic racism exists and there is work to be done to address it.

"Our government condemns all forms of racism, discrimination, intolerance and bigotry. We will continue to work within government and with our partners so that everyone in Saskatchewan can live, work, and raise a family without facing discrimination or racism," it said.

She said the government told her there is Aboriginal awareness training sessions offered within many organizations in the province.

"In my opinion, and in my experience as a visible Indigenous person, [that] doesn't do anything to change people's attitudes and the way they treat Indigenous people," Nippi-Albright said.

Nippi-Albright said she would like to see anti-racist training be mandatory for every worker in the province.

She said she urges the public to write letters to their elected officials, as well as co-ordinate and sign petitions if they believe systemic racism is a problem in the province.