Grande Prairie Mayor Bill Given has penned a statement in response to global protests spurred by the death of George Floyd. MyGrandePrairieNow.com has published it in full below:
Like many Grande Prairie residents, I’ve been shaken by the tragic and preventable death of George Floyd, the global protests that have followed and the unjustly authoritarian government response. As the protests have shown, many people around the world are similarly angry, confused, hurt, and fed up.
Locally friends, coworkers and neighbours are sharing stories about the racism they’ve experienced in their lives, at work, online and, in the community right here in our corner of northern Alberta. As I reflect on the experiences people are sharing, I am saddened because people I care about in my City have had to carry an often painful burden that many others like myself cannot begin to comprehend.
I believe human beings are fundamentally good and would like to be kind and caring toward each other. Many of us act in alignment with what we see as being acceptable behaviours in our families, workplaces, communities, or countries.
These systems, of people living together and relating to one another, collectively define our culture. The problem is that some areas of the culture we are all a part of, are founded on unjust, outmoded, and just plain racist ideas.
In spite of the hard work of many committed people and organizations in our community, it is clear that there will be no quick fix for these systems, nor simple solutions to the generations of harm experienced by people who are Black, Indigenous, and of colour.
It can be very difficult to see and diagnose the faults in a culture, when your entire existence and all your experiences have been inside a system that was flawed at its roots. For many of us, these kinds of injustices are invisible. That’s why I’m thankful we are having this global conversation; we have been given an opportunity to examine the systems we live our day to day lives within to see if new knowledge and perspective might bring to light faults that we can fix together.
At the City of Grande Prairie, we are committed to building an inclusive and welcoming City, for all residents. I invite our community members from Black, Indigenous, and coloured backgrounds to share your experiences of racism. I invite the rest of our community to listen and hear.
Now is the time to support our friends and community members who are Black, Indigenous, and of colour by listening to their experiences with open hearts. Next, we must reflect on our own lives and summon the courage to acknowledge that things haven’t always been right in the past. Finally, we must each make a commitment to take action to dismantle systemic racism by speaking out when we see it and naming it when we hear it.
Building a better city and a more just society, will take all of us acting together.
Mayor Bill Given
City of Grande Prairie