The Southern Chiefs’ Organization is documenting incidents of discrimination and violence experienced by indigenous peoples through Taxicab companies and drivers.
Below is a letter we have sent to the Taxicab Board, Province of Manitoba, and City of Winnipeg.
If you have had a bad experience while taking a Taxicab and feel it was a result of discrimination and/or was violent in nature please fill out this Taxicab Incident Report and send to Pamela Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org fax: 204-946-1871 or you can contact our office 204-946-1869. If you would like to maintain confidentiality we encourage you to call and we will accommodate your requests.
November 26, 2015
RE: Taxi Cab Service in Manitoba
David Sanders, Chairperson
200-301 Weston Street
Winnipeg, MB R3E 3H4
Dear Mr. Sanders,
The Southern Chiefs’ Organization of Manitoba (SCO) represents 32 southern First Nations communities and is tasked with advocating for the rights of First Nations people. In Manitoba there are over 100 known cases of missing and/or murdered Indigenous women. Many of these cases remain unresolved and still open to investigation. Our people have become frustrated and angry over these unresolved disappearances and murders of our women. SCO has documented incidents of Taxicab drivers who have been violent and abusive to Indigenous women.
SCO has consistently heard from Indigenous peoples over many years that have experienced ignorance, aggression, discrimination, and violence when acquiring Taxicab service. These actions are perpetrated by Taxicab drivers, dispatch clerks and management. In particular, Indigenous women have expressed that drivers have demonstrated behaviour which can be classified as sexual harassment, sexual violence, and other forms of assault.
We want to bring to your attention some of the concerning behaviour that has been relayed to us about the Taxicab drivers that are under your direct supervision. Recently, we had a call from a young woman in the Portage La Prairie region that had a negative and violent experience in a Taxicab. Additionally, we have credible witnesses that have expressed concern with the video monitoring systems that your units are equipped with, being shut off when receiving Indigenous clients as their fare. These instances are concerning to us; you as a representative Board are not only responsible for the safety of your drivers, but also for the well-being of the passengers.
We would like the opportunity to share the documentation of cases of violence and discrimination with your Board. As a First Nations advocacy agency, it is our responsibility to address concerning matters which jeopardize the safety of our people. We believe that a meeting between SCO and the Taxicab Board is essential to moving forward in a positive direction.
While SCO does not condone vigilantism, we understand that our people have become increasingly concerned about the safety and well-being of our women. Taxicab drivers are in a position of power; we are acutely aware that your primarily male drivers often find themselves in situations where they can abuse this power to the detriment of our First Nations women. Are cameras in Taxicabs allowed to be shut off?
I am sure that your Board is as concerned as we are with such accusations. We must be seen to have done everything to ensure the safety of the drivers and their passengers.
We look forward to your positive response.
Grand Chief Terrance Nelson
Honourable Kerri Irvin-Ross
Honourable Drew Caldwell
Mayor Brian Bowman
Councillor Ross Eadie