Addressing Whiteness as a Barrier to Progress on Anti-Racism

Introduction by Aly Raposo

Hello and welcome to the Anti-Racism speaker series put on by the City of Winnipeg's Equity Office in partnership with the Human Rights Committee of Council.  Thank you so much for joining us.  My name is Aly Raposo, and I am the coordinator for the Human Rights Committee of Council.  I'd like to begin with a Treaty Land Acknowledgement.  We gratefully acknowledged that we work and reside in Treaty One Territory, the home and traditional lands of the Anishinaabe, Ojibway, Ininew Cree, and Dakota peoples, and in the National homeland of the Red River Metis.  Our clean drinking water comes from Shoal Lake, 41st Nation in Treaty 3 Territory.

Before we begin, I have a few housekeeping items I want to let everyone know that the City of Winnipeg is recording the session for educational purposes.  Questions posted by participants are included in what is recorded.  This collection of personal information is authorized under Section 36-1B of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, and will be used for continued informational and educational purposes.  It will not be used or disclosed for any other purposes, unless required or permitted by law.  If you have any questions, please contact the corporate access the Privacy Officer.  A recording of today's event will be made available on CityNet and  We will be discussing Anti-Racism in the City of Winnipeg, and once the keynote is complete you will have an opportunity to ask questions of our expert.  If you have a question that you'd like addressed today, you can submit it by using the “Ask a Question” in the Microsoft Teams event.  You can anonymously ask the question by making sure to select that option before clicking “Send”.  We will make every effort possible to ask all applicable questions during our time here today.  And for anybody wishing to turn on the closed captions and subtitles, please select “Captions Subtitles” on in your video controls, you will see a small box with CC written in it.  To change the caption language from English to French, select “Settings”, then “Captions Subtitles”, and choose the language that you want.  The setting button looks like a wheel or cog.  And if you lose your connection to this event, use the same link to rejoin.

Today, introducing you giving welcome will be Cecil Sveinson.

Guest Speaker introduction by Cecil Sveinson

Hello, everyone, my name is Cecil Sveinson.  I'm the Manager of Indigenous Relations for City of Winnipeg.  I'm honored to introduce to introduce Dr. Ian Whetter in his presentation for “Addressing Whiteness as a Barrier to Progress on Anti-Racism”.  Ian Whetter is a family doctor, a medical educator, and father of three.  He works at the University of Manitoba with a focus on increasing access to high quality non-judgmental and anti-racist healthcare for underserved communities.  He is the Rady Faculty of Health Co. Lead of the Office of Community Engagement.  A member of the executive of the PGM Truth and Reconciliation Working Group, and the UG Me Lead for Social Accountability.  He is medical director with on Grammys winlth Services, and her preceptor with the northern remote Family Medicine Residency Stream.  Just on a personal note, very often an anti-racism work you go to workshops and presentations and panels, and a lot of the heavy lifting.  And it's been my experience as being done by Indigenous, Black, and Persons of Colour, and often I think why is that?  Why are do that the people who suffer at the pointy end of racism?  Why do we have to talk about these subjects?  And so I'm very grateful for the work of folks like Doctor Whetter, doing presentations and tackling these tough subjects and talking about these things on our behalf.  In doing so, he really lives up to the concept we had decreased school it will coat the one that we're all related.  So I wanna thank him on a personal for being a good relative, and picking up this work and being to come and talk with us.  So please join me in some virtual.

Keynote address by Dr. Ian Whetter

Thank you very much Cecil and to the City of Winnipeg for having me.  I will just turn on my presentation here and hopefully everyone can see it.  OK, so this is going to be a bit of a whirlwind come, and I am not an expert in Critical Race Theory.  I am not a sociologist, but I am a family doctor who has worked at the front lines in the interface with people who have not been well ed by the health system, and the health system is for sure an epicenter of racist experiences for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour.  And so I come at this from a really practical lens, having had lots of experience in the health system, but also have had just incredible mentorship and tolerance from BIPOC people in my life who have taught me a lot of important lessons.  And part of what I wanna do today is just share some of those important lessons that I've learned along the way.  I believe that, OK, so I don't have any affiliations or conflicts of interest to declare.

So this image is a picture of this, the place in southwestern Manitoba where I grew up.  This is a place called Chain Lakes, it's in Treaty 2 territory, the traditional land of the Anishinaabe and the Dakota.  And this farmland that I grew up on we often knew that there was an Indigenous history on this land, and there were some stolen circles and things on this land that we often talked about as being importance to Indigenous people.  But the story about how the land came to be in my family, and what happened to the Indigenous people on that land wasn't one that we ever told in our family.  And it wasn't until I was looking at some records from the other side of my family when I came across this entry from my grandmother's journal and she, her ancestor, settled in Bethany, Manitoba, which is great in your Minnedosa.  And in this journal she talks about her uncle Neil joining the Home Guard, a forced to quell an anticipated uprising by the Rolling River First Nation.  And it was in that moment that I really did a lot of reading around Canadian history, and I really tried to unlearn some of the lies that I've been told in my high school curriculum.  But it was really in this moment that I recognized the line of violent dispossession of Indigenous land by White settlers ran right through my family.  And it was a moment where I felt pain, and I felt a lot of discomfort, and I knew in that moment that my responsibility to the land, and to the original caretakers of this land, to dedicate myself to doing work to write the historical and ongoing harms of colonization.  And to really take on the responsibility that we as White people are asked to do, which is to dismantle the structures that our ancestors created that we benefit from every day.  And I end up in a lot of conversation with White people about this.  People who say, “hey, why are you making White people guilty?”  I wasn't here when colonization occurred, and this really just is a poignant reminder for me that the colonial structures that my ancestors put in place benefit me and all other White people on an ongoing daily basis.  And so that guilt that we might feel could be very easily translated into a sense of responsibility to write that historical long, and dedicate ourselves to doing that work.  And so one of the things that I'd like to talk about today is I'd like to explore how Whiteness, White Privilege, White Supremacy, and White Fragility to get in the way of Anti-Racism.  So even though we might declare ourselves as Anti-Racist, there are ways in which we may passively endorse those concepts or actively endorse them, but not realize that we're doing it.  I wanna talk about strategies to shift our knowledge, attitudes and behaviours White people, and our institutions to support Anti-Racism.  And at the end of this all I want White people to see our responsibility for dismantling White Supremacy and to collectively take action and to support each other, and taking that action under the leadership of Indigenous, Black and People of Colour.  I'm gonna spend a little bit of time just wanting to make the case for why this is important.  I'm hoping that as part of this Anti-Racism leadership series that everyone is here because they see it as important.  But we've got a real serious problem.  It's no more prevalent than in health care, but it is prevalent in many places other than healthcare. 

So firstly, this is a study that was conducted in DC, and the title really says it all is published in 2017, but this is a quote from one of the participants said they “treated me like I know because of his native”, and as a family doctor working in this city, I hear that refrain from my Indigenous patients on a daily basis.  I hear about substandard care I hear about people not being welcomed into care environments.  I hear about people being discharged inappropriately.  I hear about transitions of care that alert are frankly irresponsible.  And I hear from Indigenous people who tell me that they're afraid to seek care, and they delay seeking care because they are afraid.  And I think you know we swore an oath of caring and we, if you, interviewed any health care provider in the system, there's nobody who says they gets up in the morning that says I want to go out there and treat people terribly, but we do it day in and day out.  And the challenge for me and for us to figure out how we're going to stop doing that and how we're gonna stop doing it immediately.

Uhm so, there was a study that is out of Simon Fraser University, where they interviewed healthcare providers after they had taken an online Indigenous cultural safety course.  And the exit interview, asked people what their top ten stereotypes were of Indigenous people.  These stereotypes won't surprise people, but these stereotypes impact the care that people.  Yet every single day in this city not only in health care, but the services that people receive, the way that people get treated when they enter a library.  The way that people get treated when they interact with the police and justice systems.  And there is no more powerful story in the story of Brian Sinclair, who sat for 34 hours in the Health Sciences Emergency department waiting room waiting to have treatment for a totally treatable bladder infection and ended up dying of an overwhelming infection, because their assumptions made about him being homeless, which he is not, and about him being substance using, which he is not, and that there were that he didn't have people who cared about him, which is again untrue.  More recently in Joliet, Quebec Joy Sichuan died of racism.  While she was dying, the racist remarks being hurled at her and the chief of the technician said she fell through the holes of successive security nets.  All the holes were aligned, and why were they aligned like that because she was tagged as a First Nations woman who didn't merit all the tools at the medical system, including listening and compassion.  And every time one of our relatives dies on the street because of cold weather, or is lost to substance use, or doesn't seek care and has complications?  I feel like these same holes aligned and it's because we have not offered listening compassion, and we haven't offered the basic standard of care that people deserve.  And this isn't just healthcare it be a driver examples from health care because they're unfortunately frequent and often heartbreaking, but if we look at the most recent Census in Winnipeg, we can see the 65.9% of the homeless people in our city are Indigenous.  And if we take a look at COVID-19, and how it affected people across race lines, we can see if we look at that number of the case rate per thousand population.  If you look for White people in remote 4.8 cases per thousand population.  It was 98.1 cases per thousand population per South Asian people for Southeast Asian people.  5.1 For African People, 7.6 For Black people, and 10.7 for Indigenous people.  And so the ways in which racism affected the people who experience of COVID was profound, and we know that this is sometimes a manifestation of interpersonal racism but much more often, and manifestation of the ways in which structural racism has made it challenging for people to get adequate housing.  As noted in the previous slide, it makes it harder for people to work in environments where their labour rights are respected, and it makes it also harder for people to access care in their neighbourhoods.  And so if we look at the severe outcome data and we look at the 61.3% cost, polarization were amongst BIPOC people who make up 36% of the population versus 38.7% for the White population.  And likewise, and even more disproportionate admissions in the ICU for BIPOC people versus White people.  So the COVID-19 pandemic it was really shown a very bright light on the social determinants of health, and gave us a sense of where our failings are in this city and in this province.  And really has made clear the work that we have to do together to make sure that we are achieving equitable outcomes for BIPOC people in this province.  And so you may be looking at those and say what does that have to do with Whiteness?  And I'd like to talk a little bit about that.  I give a definition and then start working through some of these concepts, and hopefully it'll become clear the way in which they can be barriers to progress, and then what we can do about it.

So the National Museum of African American History and Culture of the Smithsonian in US describes Whiteness and White racial identity as the way that White people are customs culture and beliefs operate, as the standard by which all other groups are compared.  Whiteness is also at the core of understanding race in Canada, and that's italicized in the original said America.  But it is equally true of Canada, Whiteness and the normalization of White racial identity throughout Canada's history has created a culture where Non-White persons are seen as inferior or a not the norm.  And there's a perhaps trivial, but really powerful example related to this one $10 bill and some of you might know the story of this one $10 bill.  But originally the woman looking in the microscope appeared to be Chinese, and when they did focus groups across Canada about the new $10 bill, one of the focus group participants said, I think, that the woman, the scientist, should be more ethnically neutral.  And when you look at it now, you see it's a white woman looking into the microscope.  And that idea of ethnic neutrality is really at the heart of the notion of Whiteness, the way that it becomes invisible.  And when we talk about racism and the importance of talking about, and identifying Whiteness in our conversations about racism has to do with the fact that other races, which is a social construct, are defined.  In relation to Whiteness, if we don't describe Whiteness as part of our conversation around anti-racism, we often end up leaving White people feeling off the hook.  Feeling like racism isn't something that we're even a part of, unless somebody is openly overtly saying racist things, we can often take a passive approach to anti-racism.  And if we start talking about Whiteness and we make Whiteness visible as one of the other places in the racial construct we're implicated in the system that advantages acid, White people, and that creates a responsibility for us to start counteracting that system if we truly want equity.  So if we say we want equity, we need to be actively working against our privilege and against the system of White supremacy that holds that privilege.  So I want to talk a little bit about White privilege.  It's gotten a lot of attention in the media over the last few years.

One of the helpful documents that I've seen recently was from Stephanie Nixon, the physiotherapist out of the University of Toronto, and she really talks about privilege in relation to a system inequality and she calls it the coin model of anti-oppression, and so the coin is what she refers to as the system of inequality.  I'm not system could be fatphobia, that system could be racism.  That system could be sexism.  That system could be ableism, and in each of those systems with equality we will either have privilege.  So we've got it matches that others do not have.  We do not earn those privileges in these systems of inequality, we have them because of who we happen to be and those who are on the aggressive side.  As Cecil reporting the pointy end of the system of inequality have disadvantages that others do not and did not earn those disadvantages and have them, because of who they happen to be.  I think this model is really valuable because sometimes people will say, “I come from a working class background and I'm White, so how dare you tell me I have privilege”, and if you think about classism as one of the systems of inequality perhaps in that system the person is on the bottom of the coin is oppressed in the class system.  But in the system of racism, that Whiteness will always give you privilege and that is a really important concept to hold onto.  If someone is feeling defensive and I really want to encourage people that if you're feeling feelings of defensiveness, denial, wanting to hold on to unearned privileges to really sit with that, to lean into it, to ask yourself like what is that about, and what are the consequences if we maintain the status quo consequences of ongoing inequality.  I mean other people's access to freedom being restricted.  And so if we think about our own attributes, I just want you to take a look at this list and it's not an exhaustive list.  There are for sure others, but to think about so if you think about yourself with regard to race, gender, ethnicity, religion, social class, sexual orientation, ability, age, body type, education, etc.  Which of those attributes in each of those areas, and each of those coins and Stephanie Nixon model in which of those do you have privilege, and which of those would you be considered oppressed.  And for some of us, when we go down the list, we may have privilege in all of those areas, and I really see that as an additive responsibility in each of these areas, where you are on the privilege side of the coin that's another responsibility that you have to take on the fight for dismantling that system with inequality.  The other thing is that for each of those areas in which you have privilege, you probably also have a blind spot.  And so if you imagine a blind spot that if you are White, and male and cisgender, and able bodied, and thin and tall, your blind spot is going to get bigger and bigger and bigger, and the degree to which you can trust your assessment of inequity or inequality should diminish the bigger your blind spot gets.  And the more that you need to rely on people to help you see those things, and so you might have people say you're missing this, you may wanna check in and say, I know I've got lots of privilege and lots of blind spots can help me.  Just make sure I'm not missing something here.  But the other thing is to fill in those blind spots we need to do a lot of deep self-reflection, a lot of education, a lot of reading.  We can't trust our life experience to give us what we need to be able to see life from other perspectives, we were going to need to do some self-education around that. They kind of quintessential writing around.

White Privilege came from Peggy Macintosh in 1989, she talked about it as an invisible package of unearned assets, which I can count on cashing in each day but about which I was meant to remain oblivious.  And so we're taught to think of our lives is morally neutral, normative average, also ideal so that when we work for the benefit of others, it's seen as work well which will allow them to be more like us.  And we certainly see this in health and social systems all the time, where assumptions about people, different ways of being as being inferior result in us triggering.  System responses, such as birth alerts for example, that really are horribly impactful on people's lives and damaging forever because we've made assumptions that a person's way of being different from ours is inferior.  And so some of the examples that she gives, and I found this helpful the first time that I read them just to sort of give me a sense of you.  I can go shopping alone most of the time. Pretty well assured there won't be followed or harassed.  I can turn on the television or open the front page of the paper, and see my people widely represented. When I'm told about our national heritage about civilization, I'm showing the people of my colour made it what it is.  I can be pretty sure they've asked to talk to the person in charge, I'll be facing a person in my race.  I can take a job with an affirmative action employer without having coworkers on the job suspect that I got it because of race.  And I can be sure if I need legal or medical help by race will not work against me. And for those of you who work for the city, you could insert really any city service into legal or medical there.  And really, we as White people, we can be pretty sure that our race isn't going to work against us, and that's not true for Indigenous, Black and People of Colour seeking services.

So that brings me to the second last concept, which is the one of White Supremacy, and there's a great tool called “racial equity tools” that have a glossary so if some of these terms are unfamiliar if people want to look them up when they talk about white supremacy.  It's really the ideology that way people the ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions of White people are superior to People of Colour and their ideas, thoughts, beliefs, and actions.  And we often think about White Supremacy as being the Ku Klux Klan, or Neo Nazis, but really White Supremacy is everywhere in our institutional and cultural assumptions that assign value morality goodness and humanity to the White group, while casting people in communities of colour is worthless, immoral, bad, inhuman or undeserving.  And in Critical Race Theory, the term bothner furs to political or socioeconomic systems were White people enjoy structural advantage and rights that others do not, both at a collective and individual level.  And I think that it is really important that we recognize that we are currently in a system of White Supremacy, and those of us who are White people benefit every day from the system of White Supremacy.  And I think we need to really get away from the idea that White Supremacy is people in pointing hoods, which it is.  But it is also if we look at the photographs of a board for a community agency, for example, or for an advisory panel on making decisions that affect Indigenous, Black and People of Colour everyday if that board is mostly White or entirely White, that is White Supremacy in action.  If the people who are charged with deciding if racism has occurred or mostly White or all White, not as White Supremacy in action.  That is the maintenance of control by White people, and we as White people need to be looking at that and pushing back at that, and challenging it and refusing to participate in that.  The prime example of White Supremacy in Canada is the residential school system.  And I'm not going to read this aloud, and I apologize for some of the language in here I just wanted to demonstrate that this was spoken by our first Prime Minister, and that anyone who continues to argue that residential schools were good or the intent of them was good is really perpetuating a lie that is at its heart.  The perpetuation of White Supremacist ideas and needs to be aggressively interrupted at every opportunity, and people who repeat those things at this point because of the availability of so much information are really at this point willfully ignorant.  And so we need to identify that, and we need to help people along the trajectory to learning and holding them accountable and that is the work of White people.  The whole other White people accountable for their ongoing holding onto falsehoods intain White Supremacy.

Earlier this week, the CEO of the…sent out today traditional equity diagram both the people watching baseball, the shorter person, the medium height person, and the taller person.  And we often use that in the equality versus equity conversation.  I saw a recent revision of that diagram, and I think it's really important, and the reason that I think it's important is it shows that everyone here is the same height, there is not anything fundamentally different about the people and why they may or may not be able to watch the game.  But what is happening is that this person is in a hole that has been dug for them, this person is standing on a box that they have earned, so we imagine this box is White Privilege, and this person is shackled to the ground.  And if we think about the ways which legal and justice systems disproportionately impact Indigenous, Black and People of Colour, those are White systems that have maintained this inequity.  It's not an accident that people can't see over the fence.  It's a structure, and it's a structure that my ancestors put in place, and it's a structure that I and you other White people have a responsibility to dismantle.

But this diagram is adopted from the chronicle of the problem women of colour in the nonprofit that was originally made by the Safe Host Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence and it was modified by COCONET, which is an organization of community organizations and overarching organization community organizations in Quebec.  I put this up because I think it is a really important demonstration. A phenomenon where Whites the way in which White Supremacy gets upheld every day in the organizations in which we work.  The point is really small, so I'm going to move to the next slide where I'm kind of blown it up a little bit.  But if we think about the move towards equity, diversity, and inclusion, which is an important direction, but it is, it can become a smokescreen for White Supremacy.  And what we need to do is to make sure that we're not using equity, diversity, inclusion as a smokescreen for White Supremacy.  And here's just an example of one of the ways in which when equity, diversity and inclusion is used as a smokescreen the way it can operate.  So one of colour interesting organization with all White leadership during the honeymoon period, woman of colour feels welcome, needed hey.  But it starts to become clear that she's a tokenized hire penciled in.  Reality starts to set in the woman of colour points out issues within the organization she tries to work within the organization structure and policies to push for accountability.  There's repetitive injury and microaggressions for this woman in the organization, and oftentimes there are no consequences for that repetitive injury and microaggression.  There's a denial of the racism that she's experiencing the organization denies, ignores, and blames the responsibility of fixing the problem is placed on women of colour and People of Colour are pitted against one another.  This is the target of the attack and then the retaliation.  The organization decides that the woman of colour is the problem and targets her.  The organization labels the conflict as a communication issue, and we have all seen a respectful workplace policy used to address issues of racism.  This is no a good tool for addressing racism in organizations, we need to have an accountability for racism mechanism.  And then the woman of colour exits the organization. I unfortunately can't see you, but I presume that there are many of you that have seen this play out in your organizations, and this is a prime opportunity for us to name Whiteness and White Supremacy, and to confront it and to make sure that this doesn't happen again.

So one of the unfortunate phenomenon that occurs, and it occurs because for a right of reasons, but one of them, Brian Sims said when you're used to privilege equality, feels like oppression.  And that's when we start to push back against Whiteness, we can trigger White Fragility.  And Robyn D'Angelo as described it in nutshell is defensive reactions so many White people have when our racial worldviews, positions, or advantages, or questions are challenged for a lot of White people are just suggesting that being White has meaning, or trigger deep defensive response.  And that defensiveness serves to maintain both our comfort and our position, and a racially inequitable society from which we benefit.  And so when we trigger when we feel that rising in us that White Fragility, we need to remind ourselves that is us trying to maintain the status quo in a racially inequitable society because it benefits us, and it keeps us comfortable.  And alternatively, put video Malone who is an author, “And So You Want To Talk About Race”, a black woman from the United States wrote just once, “I want to speak to a room of White people who they are there because they are the problem”, who know they're there to begin the work of seeing where they've been complicit and harmful, so that they can start doing better.  Because White Supremacy is their construct they've benefited from and deconstructing White Supremacy in their duty.  And I hope that we can leave here today as White people, I'm seeing the dismantling of White Supremacy as our duty.  Some of what or where the White Fragility comes from is this thing that hillevi described as a shame barrier, so that when we're unaware and acting out of privilege and we encounter the shame barrier.  We made blame, we may deny, and we may claim our entitlements to those privileges.  We as we sort of cross through the shame barrier, we start to become aware that we sort of better understanding and considering our position of privilege, and that coin model that Stephanie Nixon picks up can be helpful for that.  And then lastly, we can move to acceptance, ownership of the affected, the consequences, and take responsibility for the dismantling of White supremacy.  And if we don't do that, if we don't work our way through the shame barrier, if we just leave it there and we cross our arms, and we don't lean into that discomfort and we'll end up in denial.  And we believe that actions come, their actions are coming from a place of benign or benevolent intent, and we won't take any ownership of the outcomes of White Supremacy that we see today in the racial inequities.  And so we really need to work through that chain.  I often talk about when I'm talking to the medical students about when we feel the shame sitting with it, and thinking about how we can turn shame, from shame to guilt to guilt cousin, which is a really useful feeling which is responsibility, because that's really what we're feeling is a sense of responsibility to fix.

What is wrong to get out of the way and to start the dismantling White Supremacy?  So, I'm sure it's abundantly clear, but we've got work to do, and that work is going to have to work on ourselves.  That's going to have to be work with our community, our friends, our family, our neighbors, our coworkers and working our institutions and structures.  So if we think back to Stephanie Nixon’s coin model, some of the work we have to do with ourselves is really just figuring out what are the privileges that I have.  What are the ways in which my privileges lead to the oppression of other people?  This isn't passive for every oppression.  There's a benefit that I'm receiving, and so I can't continue to receive those benefits as long as others are being oppressed.  For me to have them, I have to work against dismantling that structure.  So one of the things that Stephanie Nixon says, and I think it really, it really struck me because we often hear people say these things.  So if the goal is to dismantle the systems inequality that results in health disparities, a reorientation is required, whereby people on the top of the coin those of us with privilege change our motivation from I wish to help those who are less fortunate.  Or I use my expertise to reduce inequities for marginalized populations.  We hear this all the time, but to the following commitments I seek to understand my own role in upholding systems in the pressure that create health I learn from the expertise, and work in solidarity with historically marginalized groups to help me understand and take action.  As this thing's been equality and this work, includes building insight amongst others in private positions of privilege, and mobilizing in collective action under the leadership of people on the bottom of the coins, and those people who are at the pointy end of the systems of oppression.  So this is where we're at right now is we are in a position as White people to follow the leadership of Indigenous, Black and People of Colour in working towards dismantling the systems of inequality that upheld our comfort and our privilege.  So we need new our own histories.  We need to know our own social location.  We need to know the biases that will flow from those.  We need to listen and really like intently listen, not listening, preparing to respond or listen.  Preparing to deny but really sit with the discomfort of the truths that are all around us to reflect on the advantages that we have to incorporate those in the way we are as people, the way we think about ourselves, to identify ourselves as active anti-racist people, not passive non-racist people, and we have to act none of this.  We can't just sit and navel gaze, we have to act on disrupting racism in all of in our personal lives, in our communities and in our institutions.  We need to educate ourselves very often I will hear White people say to Indigenous, Black and People of Colour know what should we do.

There are all kinds of things written, so there's the royal Commission on Aboriginal peoples.  The Black Medical Students Association of Canada wrote some recommendations for action.  The national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous remaining girls and two-spirited people has given us all kinds of recommendations for action, and we need to go and read those documents and educate ourselves.  We need to lean into discomfort.  There's a great spoken word artist buying Jay Smooth, a Black man from Brooklyn who describes the gentle dental hygiene model of anti-racism.  So it says we need to move away from that on selecting the model.  But hey in that thing you said sounded racist.  No can't possibly be.  I had my racism removed in 1993.  Move away from that model towards a model of dental hygiene, which is that we have to floss and brush every single day, otherwise White Supremacy reasserts itself.  Racism reasserts itself, and then when somebody points out something that we did is racist, we respond in the way that we do it would if somebody said you've got spinach in your teeth.  What did you say?  Say thank you for pointing that out.  I don't want to go through my life behaving like this.  Creating those thing feelings about people I've clearly got work to do.  Thank you for pointing that out.  And then we need to step back so if there are positions of leadership that come open and someone nudges you as a White person to take that position, this is our opportunity to say no.  I think that position, the impact of that position will impact Black, Indigenous and People of Colour.  I think that should and then I think we need to step up.  It doesn't mean that we take our marbles and go home.  It means we need to step up in behind their leadership, and we need to step in when racism happens right in front of us.  We need to hone our skills and interrupting it, stepping in and not leaving it.  As Cecil pointed out, for Indigenous Black and People of colour to do the heavy lifting, we as White people need to be doing the heavy lifting.

I just want to speak a little bit about some reflections that I had on the day that this statue came down, and it was a really powerful moment of reflection for me.  As I saw young Indigenous women and their kids stand on this statue, and see smiles come across their face as I saw multi-generational families sitting for a photo on the statue as they saw an elder listen help make his way up onto the statue inside his chest.  Phil and his see him feeling some power return, and I think that this is a really important moment of reflection for me with the little flags marking the graves of the young ones who were lost, were killed at the residential schools.  This was a moment of reminding me of my status here as a guest and as a visitor, and that I need to behave in on this land a guest would, which is to tread lightly to seek permission to make sure that we're operating within the rules of the land that existed before my ancestors came here.  In terms of the work that we need to do as I already mentioned, there's no end of a guiding documents we don't need to be asking.  Buy hot people what we should do.  It's always good to check in, but there's lots of resources for us to get started and as the Honorable Mary Sinclair said, we have described for your mountain.  We've shown you the path, the top and we call upon you to do the climbing.  And he said also together Canadians must do more than talk about reconciliation.  They must learn how to practice it in our everyday lives within ourselves, our families, our communities, governments, places of worship, schools and workplaces.  And I don't know if you've seen this, but the manager, Mohammed Action Network, has reading guide for non-indigenous organizations to work through.  It's a workbook to really work through our commitments to TRC. 

There's no end of courses, so there's this University of Alberta free online course as twelve lessons, 21 hours that anyone can take.  And there's a one-month kind of workbook for White people to work through called “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla Saad.  There's all kinds of other examples, but there's no shortage of opportunities for us to do the learning that we need to do to sharpen our skills in working towards anti-racism, and to get out of the way as White barriers to anti-racist progress, and to getting behind the leadership of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour to do this work. 

At the community level, we need to just as I said, hone our skills and disrupting racism we have to be more comfortable with confronting racism than witnessing it.  And as my colleague and mentor, and an incredible leader Doctor Marcia Anderson says ver racism happens, we have to mark the moment even if we feel awkward or nervous or unsure about what to do.  Even just saying something like, “can you repeat what you just said or that didn't?”  Alright, and then there's a whole bunch written about ways to mark the moment we all as White people should have some in our back pocket, ready to bring out in all locations to mark moments in which racism has occurred.  And that's the very least we should do as mark the moment, more important would be to confront it, to push back on it, to work towards education of the White people that we were interrupting, but marking the moment is the very least we can do.  You have to commit to holding each other accountable and being held accountable.  We have to process our feelings and other White people time and time again from Black, Indigenous and other People of Colour about White people who have come to them either seeking an alibi for something they said or done, or to process the feelings that I have been guilty of this also.  But over time I realized the burden of work that BIPOC people are doing every day dealing with racism to add managing the feelings of White people.  On top of that is an intolerable burden, and we absolutely have White people cannot ask the BIPOC people in their lives begin that work for us.  That's the work we need to do on our own and with each other.  It doesn't mean don't have feelings, it just means don't process them with people.

This one is related to tone policing which is we need to anticipate anger and frustration.  We need we understand that the intense pressure that by puck people are under because of racism because of unfair expectation performance.  Expectations that White people and the daily microaggressions overt racism that people are exposed to the expectation that people are going to engage racism peacefully, or without anger or frustration is totally unrealistic, and we shouldn't expect other people.  And we should still say thank you if somebody says, “he and your jerk for that thing you said”, that my response still needs to be seems to be “thank you for raising that”.  And we need to keep showing up and doing the work, and so even if it's tense and even if there's conflict, then even if we're afraid we have to keep showing up and getting the work.  There's a great article by Derald Wing Sue who is the original descriptor of the term micro-racial microaggressions.  I had a subsequent article where it actually describes techniques for disarming racial microaggressions and these micro intervention strategies for targets, White allies, and by standards, so bystanders might be worth reading.  And then lastly for our institutions and the structures in which we work, we need leadership from Black, Indigenous and People of Colour.  Being organizations, we need to review and report on representation in senior leadership, and on our boards need to make sure that those boards are representative of the communities that are served by the organizations which those boards exist.  We need to ensure the anti-racism is embedded in the metrics, so if it's not measured it doesn't get action in this day and age of Lean and Six Sigma etc.  We'd need to have anti-racist metrics built in.  We need to enact policies that advance progress towards equitable outcomes.  A four by hot people we need to pay for the expertise of people with lived or living experience I still hear time and time again from traditional knowledge keepers, elders, or community members, members of racialized communities who are asked to be consulted, or to give their opinion with no compensation.  We need to ensure that the mechanisms to hold people accountable for racism are designed by racialized people.  We can't have White designed accountability mechanisms for racism, and White adjudicated mechanisms, for deciding phrases into the curd that are blind spots around race and racism are just too big, and we will end up applying respectful worksheet workplace policy when we need to be naming and looking at racism in the workplace.  And lastly, If we're going to talk about decolonization, you really don't need to be adopting Eve, Tuck and Wing Yang’s definition, which is it's not decolonization.  If you're painting a feather on it or having some know some other artwork as the total of the colonization work.  It really has to mean the transfer of power land or resources with people. So, so, this is the concept of nothing about us without us leading it and so in other provinces.  

The Regional Health authorities, for example, have a provision that requires them to have Indigenous representation on the boards of the health authorities in Manitoba.  There's no such provision in Ontario according to the principles, coming appointment process it person selected must reflect the true face of Ontario in terms of diversity and regional representation, and so we need these kind of structural interventions to ensure that our boards are representative.  We need to be working towards substantive equality which is equality in outcomes, so not just equal access to services but that the outcomes start to equalize, and it is required in order to address the historical disadvantages. Intergenerational trauma and discrimination.  If we think back to COVID19 and a disproportionate impact, the fact that we reported these results by race was as a result of the great work of Doctor Marcia Anderson, and what they did that was incredible is they took that data that they demanded and turned it into a change in policy which allowed for First Nations people to be vaccinated at 20 years younger than that until the age-based vaccine.  And when people say that's not fair, Doctor Anderson asked what she would say to those pinky differential fair, Anderson said disappear health outcomes Indigenous people face aren't there.  So we've got work to do with ourselves within our communities, our friends, our family, our coworkers, our neighbors, and we need to change our institutions to change our structures.  And this is the work that we have to do as White people, and I'm still leave you with this quote from Aaron, Daddy Roy who's an Indian author says, “historically, pandemics of forced humans to break with the past and imagine the world anew.  This one is no different.  It's a portal gateway between one world and the next.  You can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, or abaris our databanks and dead ideas or dead rivers and smoky skies behind us.  Or you can walk through lightly with little luggage, ready to imagine another world and ready to fight for it.”  And I hope in the next ten minutes, so, don't sorry five minutes, sorry about that.  We can talk a little bit.  I'd like to ask some other questions and I hope that you feel galvanized to pick up this fight as White people and take on our duty of dismantling White Supremacy. So thank you.  If you've got any questions or comments that you don't get checked task now please feel free to email me.  Thanks a lot.

Question and Answer Period moderated by Diane Burelle and responded to by Dr. Ian Whetter

Diane:  Thank you so much, Doctor Whetter with powerful the address on how Whiteness, White Supremacy, White Privilege and White Fragility get in the way of anti-racism and anti-oppression work, it is truly moving.  You've highlighted for us many important lessons including how the White culture has benefited, and continues to benefit, from colonization and oppressive social structures we've inherited this fact perpetuates the racial disparities, and your commitment to dismantle these structures helps us all to examine this critically.  It is truly a collective responsibility and a collective action that are needed. Root out racism in all its forms to create cultural safety for all community members and for all employees you've outlined.  Education is key, and we will do the climbing to achieve substantive equality we are committed to that.  So some of the questions that are have come in Doctor Whetter I will ask if you here and I noting that we won't be able to get through them all.  We will commit to gathering responses and posting them with a recording of this session on the Anti-Racism in Action 2022.

Here's a question for you, White Privilege has been absorbed as the dominant belief for many non-white people.  I walk around as a Person of Colour, but think like a White person.  How can we push back against people falling into the harm of White Privilege?  You'll need to unmute yourself Doctor Whetter.

Dr. Whetter:  No, I'm sorry, I was just taking a deep breath at that question.  I'm might take a cop out on this one only in the sense that I feel very hesitant as a White person to be giving advice to BIPOC people about pushing back on white privilege.  But I am really keen on White people pushing back on it and I think.  I think it's just some of the ways that I've outlined around how we can push back on that privilege, or the way we have to do it.  We have to step back when they're when there are opportunities that should be built by other people, and we should and we need to come in behind the leadership of Black, People, Colour as White people.  So I don't know if that answers your question, but I think it hits upon the kind of internal or interpersonal racism that gets felt, and it's the impact of these social constructs that we've inherited.

Diane:  Thank you for that.  Another question that we have is, your definition of White Supremacy really surprised me, as most of the senior management within my organization is White.  How can we change this because what you said will most likely be denied that it exists and so it perpetuates, it just continues?

Dr. Whetter:  Yeah, I mean, I think that if you were in an old White management structure who denies White Supremacy?  I would just really encourage people to sit with that dissonance.  If you were in an old White management structure that is White Supremacy in action, and the cognitive dissonance that creates if you are going to deny that is powerful.  But it is real and I would encourage Pete, I would encourage that management team to do some deep dives.  Perhaps it's seeing if you can get your management team to engage in the 28 day, a process that Layla Saad lays out in her book, “Me and White Supremacy”.  That's actually four group, what groups of White people to work through White Supremacy.  Pretending that is not the case is willful ignorance, and exactly the barrier to progress on right and racism that I'm talking about.

Diane:  Thank you Doctor Whetter.  Here's another question for you, can you provide any advice or examples of how we can add in the accountability that you referenced, if not through a respectful workplace standard?

Dr. Whetter:  So the Doctor Delia Douglas and others at the back of the Health Sciences Rd piece of policy called disrupting racism in all its forms, and it was to really make sure that we were identifying racism as the problem when racism is the problem.  But it's not about respectful workplace, because sometimes it happens with respectful workplace policy is that the person who's calling out racism if they do it angrily I'm gets identified as.  In that example of the woman of colour in the White workplace, that person gets identified as the disrespectful worker. And so we need policy and there's policy around that could you could draw from, and I would encourage that they disrupting in all its forms policy at the rating.  Faculty is available publicly to read it and consider adopting a policy like that, and making sure the people indicating racism are not like people.

Diane:  Thank you very much.  Another question Doctor Whetter is, what are some great responses you have heard or used to respond to the that's not fair phenomenon from White people?

Dr. Whetter:  I mean, I find that Stephanie Nixon’s model to be really helpful.  So when I get people to work through that list of attributes that it can be helpful because then I can sort of say is validate for them. Yes on the from a class privileged perspective you do not have class privilege that's true, you still have White privilege so that I find that to be helpful sometimes then.  And then I sometimes like to ask people what would be the consequences for you for speaking out about racism and for me.  Hopefully the consequences would speaking out about racism Arnel for BIPAC person.  The consequences of speaking about out about racism can be losing their job.  And so I like to sort of give some examples and then those examples that Peggy McIntosh lists in unpacking the invisible backpack.  I found I find them helpful 'cause they are really hard to deny, and it's really it has been helpful in mixed race room for me to talk about that.  Because in the White people will say things like yeah “I don't like course but nobody gets followed around them”.  Everyone, Shoppers Drug Mart and then all of the BIPOC people in the room go over.  Sure we do and so that can also be helpful just to do a little bit of reality testing for people.  It sounds like normalizing those discussions is absolutely key in raising awareness, and moving to productive action.

Diane:  Another Whetter to one last question.  I'm mindful of the time.

Dr. Whetter:  I'm actually good, so I wanna honor your time.  But if you got if you wanna keep asking me questions I'm good.

Diane:  OK, here's another one from your experiences in the patient care setting.  What are your thoughts and perspectives on addressing racist comments made by White patients?  How does the power dynamic between care provider / patient further impact that interaction when naming the racism?  And I'll add that our transit bus drivers face this as well and so forth?

Dr. Whetter:  So great question, this is a great question, especially when we've got an obligation to provide the service.  And so I try to make it clear in those moments that so I mark the moment I point out to the person that is that I'm providing care to make those types of comments are unacceptable and won't be tolerated, and I make it clear that I will continue to offer them care as long as those if they, the care provider is a BIPOC care provider providing care, to wait patiently making those comments.  It can be helpful if there are other White bystanders to have them engage in the interruption of that anytime.  As a White bystander that I'm gonna step into that I usually like to check in with my BIPOC calling, before I do just to even if it's just like a little, like make eye contact in the head nod.  And then I sometimes create an opportunity the for BIPOC calling to step away from that care and then step into that.  So firstly you want to protect BIPOC people from harm in those scenarios, and make it clear to patients that bad behaviour is acceptable.  Or for transit riders example that you gave up and then yeah, and then make clear the expectations of behaviour on the part of the person receiving the service.  And I think right now we largely have left providers alone in managing those, and I think that we need to do a better job of making it clear to people receiving care of that type of behaviour is not tolerated in the same way that we wouldn't tolerate physically aggressive behavior.  We need to do tighten up our zero tolerance or racist commentary plantations, OK.

Closing Remarks by Natalie Durocher

Thank you so much Doctor Whetter for your impactful keynote address, and also insightful responses to these questions.  Just trying to be respectful and mindful of everyone's time, so thank you so much and thank you to everyone for attending today's session. 

So everyone knows tomorrow does mark the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic slave trade, which honours and remembers the millions of men, women, and children who were brutalized under a slavery system.  So tomorrow's event, our speaker’s event for tomorrow is entitled, “A Living Legacy: Canadian Anti-Blackness and the Transatlantic Trade of Enslaved Persons, as to mark this important date.  So for employees who may be interested in furthering their knowledge you can register for this event in PeopleSoft, and for the public we are also included the later Anti-Racism in Action 2022 to our website, where you can access the link to the session. 

And I know there are a lot of other questions that have been asked, we will be taking those offline with Doctor Whetter in terms of trying to get some responses for those questions, and they will be posted online along with the recording of the video.  So that'll be done sometime in the upcoming week or so, and we hope that you will join us tomorrow. 

And I just also wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who made today’s speaker event a success, and just once again thanks to everyone for attending.  Thank you Doctor Whetter, and have a great rest of the day.

Dr. Whetter:  Thanks everyone.


  1. Your definition of White Supremacy really surprised me as most of the senior management within my organization is White, how can we change this because what you said is most will deny this exists and so it will continue?
  2. White privilege has been "absorbed" as the dominant belief for many non-white people.  I walk around as a person of colour but think like a "white person".  How can we push back against people falling into the harm of White Privilege?
  3. Can the moderators please provide a list of resources provided in this presentation?  If there are any other resources specific to deconstructing White Supremacy and institutional racism in a large organization (like the city)? sorry, *and any other resources specific to deconstructing….
  4. Can you provide an advise or examples of how we can add in "accountability" if not through a Respectful Workplace Standard?
  5. Thanks so much.  I have a very similar background of speaker (except gender).  Really appreciate you saying all the things that I could not find words for and setting out the work to be done.  I will continue my journey to do my part.  I think this should be a course for WRHA staff to take - annually.
  6. What if they hear all this but still think the…
  7. What are some great responses you have heard / used to respond to "that's not fair" from White people?
  8. How do you handle to someone who refuses to hear my cultural side of things?
  9. You've given a really, really good presentation Ian.  Thank you for doing this.
  10. Hey Ian, wonderful talk.  From your experiences in the patient care setting, what are your thoughts and perspectives on addressing racist comments made by White patients?  How does the power dynamic between care provider/patient further impact that interaction when naming the racism? I should identify myself as a White cisgender man.
  11. I would be quite interested to attend a panel discussion that included Dr. Smith & Dr. Whetter.
  12. How do you respond/educate someone who says" White Privilege does not exist anymore"?
  13. What would you recommend as a tool or a resource for White people to learn how to safely and effectively disrupt racism?
  14. Anti-Racism in Action 2022 website:
  15. I am White and I was recently with a White family member who once said, "Black people should be grateful for how far they've come since the 1800s", and I was left dumbfounded.  What's your recommended response to that type of racist comment?  I regret not saying something.
  16. What are your thoughts on the Indigenous women who take taxis and are either facing sexual assault, or anger and threats.  The complaint process has been going on for over two years at least, and the taxi company is asking for more time.  However, this request is not being done in good faith and as a way of avoiding accountability.
  17. Hey Ian, wonderful talk.  From your experiences in the patient care setting, what are your thoughts and perspectives on addressing racist comments made by White patients? How does the power dynamic between care provider/patient further impact that interaction when naming the racism?
  18. How do BIPOC employees "push-back" on the power imbalances, when being directed on initiatives from a White persons ideas on what are thought to be good approaches to Anti-racism activities, programs and policies, but are in fact harmful?
  19. Do you see any significant / meaningful changes happening in the healthcare system, or are anti-racist actions / awareness building being left to individual medical professionals (for the most part)?
  20. Patrick Lemoine [3/24/2022, 18:04]:  (More of a comment...) Thank you once again for a fantastic presentation. Dr. Whetter managed to touch on and clearly explain the important points pertaining to White Privilege.  I will certainly be revisiting this presentation with my colleagues and students when it is made available.
  21. Can you post the information to the course that you referenced here please?
  22. Thank you so much!!
  23. How would you explain the Kafka trap of anti-racism?
  24. Is there a helpful resource about appropriate language when discussing anti-racism?  Sometimes my co-workers and I aren't sure if it's ok to say someone is Black, or Asian, or how to address the issue without being disrespectful or very hesitant?
  25. Great session.
  26. Respectfully, Dr Whetter, that is a slippery slope for many of us who are health care professionals.  I get that you may have the opportunity to check in with and possibly offer to stand in for a BIPOC colleague who may be encountering racism by the racially insensitive patient.
  27. Thanks Dr. Whetter for your insightful input.
  28. This was a fantastic webinar, thank you.  As a White person I took many notes to help inform the actions I can take to dismantle White Supremacy.
  29. But having an advocate like yourself at the ready to stand up and defend as an ally, is a luxury that the majority of health professionals do not have in most settings.  And despite the brutal impact of the racially insensitive commentary, often my experience is that we are in fact rendered powerless as a BIPOC person we've been targeted or insulted by the comment or behaviour, yet out of a duty to care an ethical and legal responsibility to provide care to that client "Walking away" or denying that person care is not an option.