Abuse hurled at Iqaluit cab drivers discussed at safety committee
Public awareness campaign that profiles the lives of taxi drivers under consideration
Updated on Friday, Oct. 8 at 9:50 p.m.
Iqaluit’s public safety committee is mulling the launch of a campaign to encourage respectful behaviour towards the city’s taxi drivers, following last month’s incidents of rock-throwing and racial abuse.
At a Monday meeting, committee members discussed the abuse faced by taxi drivers in Iqaluit and potential solutions. Nearly a month ago, taxi drivers stopped operating their cars for over an hour on a Saturday night to protest a spate of rock-throwing and racist behaviour that the drivers said had been directed at them for several years.
Murielle Jassinthe, the representative from the Nunavut Black History Society, gave her own example of racism in taxis. She said that she and a taxi driver were called a racial slur when she getting out of a taxi.
Jessica Young, a representative from the Government of Nunavut Justice Department, said that a public awareness campaign that profiles the lives of taxi drivers could help residents see the drivers not simply for the job that they do, but as people.
“It’s not a cab driver, it’s who that cab driver is,” Young said.
Both Jassinthe and Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell agreed with Young’s idea.
Jassinthe said having taxi drivers seen as community helpers would be beneficial while Bell said a public campaign could make the positive change the committee is looking for.
“People will start knowing each other instead of hating each other,” Bell said.
To prevent children and young adults from harassing taxi drivers, youth in Iqaluit need more positive programs to occupy them, said Mads Sandbakken, the representative from the Government of Nunavut’s Department of Family Services.
Without programs, whether they are online or playing recreational sports, children and young adults in Iqaluit have a lot of time to get involved in negative behaviour, he added.
“It’s a pretty quick road until you’re hanging around Northmart or meeting up with people that are not particularly healthy for young adults to have,” Sandbakken said.
Bell asked both Young and Sandbakken to bring more information forward at the next public safety committee meeting so that a motion can be adopted and put forward to city council.
Correction: This article has been updated from a previous version to correct the name of the Nunavut Black History Society.