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February 5, 2021

Statement from Mayor Brian Bowman

Released: 12:11 p.m.

Winnipeg, MB“Earlier today, I wrote to the longstanding President of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg (UFFW), Alex Forrest, to express my concern regarding the lack of public communication from the UFFW regarding issues of systemic racism in the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) and the UFFW.

Combating racism, in all of its forms, requires a commitment to change by our community and, in particular, by our community leaders. The City of Winnipeg, including Council, have taken steps over the past several years to better addressing its role in becoming a city without racism.

In the last week, I have held press conferences alongside our Interim Chief Administrative Officer, Mike Ruta and WFPS Chief John Lane regarding the findings by an independent investigator that the City retained to address issues of racism within the WFPS. In both of those press conferences, we publicly acknowledged the existence of systemic racism and the ongoing efforts underway to address it.

I have asked Mr. Forrest, as President of the UFFW, to join the City of Winnipeg in its public efforts and speak out today to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism within the UFFW and to demonstrate what measures the UFFW has taken to date to address such issues.

In our city, our community has expectations for emergency services and the level of service that is provided to each person who lives here. That level of expectation has been challenged and we need, as leaders, to be accountable and work together to fix this.“

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