For immediate release
October 15, 2021
Treaty One Territory, Winnipeg, MB – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) continues to be concerned about the safety of First Nations citizens from Northern Manitoba in regard to using taxis in the City of Winnipeg.
This month, there have been two taxi drivers charged in relation to their treatment of Indigenous women as follows:
- On October 6, the Winnipeg Police Service arrested a 44-year-old taxi driver and charged him with forcible confinement and assault.
- On October 13, the Winnipeg Police Service arrested a 51-year-old taxi driver and charged him with extortion, dangerous operation of a vehicle, careless driving, and failing to exercise due care for a pedestrian.
In both cases, the people who used the taxis were young Indigenous women, ages 19 and 23. Both women came forward to share their experiences via media.
“On behalf of MKO, I want to commend Serenity Mousseau and Carrie Hill for their bravery and strength in sharing what they have experienced when it comes to Winnipeg taxi drivers. Indigenous women should never experience violence or discrimination when using public transportation,” said Grand Chief Garrison Settee. “There must be mechanisms put into place to hold taxi companies and licensing bodies accountable to ensure the safety of First Nations citizens. I encourage anyone who has witnessed or experienced unsafe incidents in taxis to file a report with the Winnipeg Police Service.”
“Any form of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and Two Spirit and gender-diverse people is unacceptable, especially at the hands of taxi drivers,” shared Hilda Anderson-Pyrz, Director of MKO’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Liaison Unit. “We have raised our concerns about the safety of First Nations citizens using taxis in Winnipeg in the past. We call on all taxi companies and the City of Winnipeg to step up to ensure First Nations people can access safe taxi services. MKO calls on all levels of government to recognize this ongoing harm and to implement Calls for Justice 4.8 and 17.9 from the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.”
Calls for Justice 4.8 and 17.9 from the Final Report are as follows:
4.8 We call upon all governments to ensure that adequate plans and funding are put into place for safe and affordable transit and transportation services and infrastructure for Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people living in remote or rural communities. Transportation should be sufficient and readily available to Indigenous communities, and in towns and cities located in all of the provinces and territories in Canada. These plans and funding should take into consideration: • ways to increase safe public transit; • ways to address the lack of commercial transit available; and • special accommodations for fly-in, northern, and remote communities.
17.9 We call upon all governments to provide safe transportation options, particularly in rural, remote, and northern communities, including “safe rides” programs, and to monitor high recruitment areas where Métis women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA individuals may be more likely to be targeted.
Indigenous citizens from across Manitoba often need to utilize taxis to access services and attend events in Winnipeg.
A few safety tips for those who must access taxi services include:
- Take a picture of the cab number and/or license plate number
- Ride in the back seat of the taxi rather than in the front, if possible
- Enable the location services or GPS tracking on your phone
- Input local emergency numbers into your phone before you use a taxi
- Try to travel with a friend or family member
- Let someone know where you are
You can find more detailed safety tips online here.
There is also a volunteer group called “Ikwe Safe Rides (Women Helping Women)” on Facebook. The group has a limited number of volunteer drivers; however, it may be a useful resource to women and their children who need to access rides in Winnipeg. The private group is on Facebook here.
For more information:
Melanie Ferris, Communications Officer
Email: [email protected]