The aftermath of the whistleblower article sent shockwaves throughout Canada. Although shocking to Canadians, several of the Hydro employees that were interviewed perceived racism to be openly accepted within Manitoba Hydro and the majority of the Hydro Dams across the country.
One Afro Canadian employee shared his story of the time he was working at a Hydro site in Saskatchewan and found a noose placed in his lunch bag after coming back from his break. He was afraid for his life and left the job site immediately. He filed a report with Hydro but nothing came of it as the union brotherhood is strong; no one would dare to implicate one of their brothers.
This brotherhood is similar to that of what Aaron Jones spoke about. Instead of sticking up for humanity and calling out racist behaviours, they laughed, snickered and bathed in their bigotry. Perhaps it’s time unions start receiving sensitivity and courage training?
We took the liberty of reaching out to all the parties involved to ensure they were given the opportunity to provide a statement of accounts of the events and racist culture within Manitoba Hydro.
The Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister, the Minister of Crown services Jeff Wharton and the human resources department of BBE the lead contractor responsible for the Keeyask site development, all declined to provide a statement.
It’s important to note several attempts were made to reach out to the NDP, MP Niki Ashton who represents the north in the Churchill—Keewatinook Aski riding and, she did not provide a response.
Manitoba Hydro provided the following prepared statement: “We’re saddened to read about the experience of Mr Jones at the Keeyask project. We do not tolerate such language and behaviour at Manitoba Hydro and we expect the same from our contractors involved in the Keeyask project. When we become aware of such activity, we will take appropriate action.
To be clear, a respectful work environment is a shared responsibility. Manitoba Hydro will not tolerate harassment, sexual harassment or discrimination of any kind”.
In the written statement from Manitoba Hydro, they failed to explain why a person with a history of racism was able to remain in their employee for so long. Furthermore, not a clear explanation of what actions they plan to take or have taken to ensure the toxic culture within the Crown Corporation changes.
We also reached out to Grand Chief Garrison Settee of the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak(MKO), and the following statement was provided;
“I was dismayed to read about the overt racism displayed by the workers of the Keeyask Dam being built in MKO Territory between Split Lake and Gillam, Manitoba. MKO has been a leading voice in the work on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) issues and a leading advocacy voice for the families and victims, which includes racism, discrimination and every form of intolerance. Earlier this year, MKO invited Amnesty International to meet with First Nations leadership and community members to deepen their understanding of human rights violations associated with hydroelectric development in the MKO Territory that resulted in a call by Amnesty International to Manitoba Hydro to: “Proactively institute mandatory intersectional gender-based analysis… [and] Take urgent steps to ensure the health, safety and well-being of Indigenous peoples… [and] Commit to working in collaboration with First Nations to address historic and ongoing human rights violations.”
The racism experienced by multiple Indigenous women at Keeyask has had a serious impact on the safety and mental well being of many residents in the north. This issue needs to be immediately addressed and resolutions must be enacted appropriately, fairly and above all, justly.
Judy Klassen, Former Interim Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party and MLA for Kewatinook
“We must stay united and put forth our differences and prejudice of our ancestors. It is important everyone has a safe and comfortable environment to put in an honest day’s work and contribute to society. Racism, Sexism and, Bigotry has no business being in the workplace”.
In a recent survey on race relations in Canada, the survey found Manitoba and Saskatchewan more likely to see race relations as worsening: Based on the first-hand accounts from the various Hydro employees, this survey confirms toxic culture within the work environment and the province’s problem with acceptance.
Manitoba and Saskatchewan have long ways to go to be on par with the rest of the country when it comes to handling race. We believe there will always be brave individuals like Aaron Jones who tries to see the good in everyone and stands up for rights anyone who may not have the courage and strength to be his brother and sister’s, keeper.
Read The Disturbing First Article About The Racism On Hydro Sites Here: Courageous Worker Stands Up Against Sexual Harassment And Racism At Toxic Manitoba Hydro