It isn’t always easy being a visible minority in Red Deer.
The experiences some people of colour have had with racism and discrimination in our community are recounted in a film made by Red Deer resident Love Nwigwe with a $20,000 grant from Telus Storyhive.
Nwigwe chose the film’s title from George Floyd’s last words: I Can’t Breathe. It will be screened for the public at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5, at Carnival Cinemas in Red Deer.
This will be followed by a question-and-answer session on racism and discrimination at about 4:30 p.m.
The latest Statistics Canada survey results released this week show fewer immigrants are choosing Red Deer as their new home. The percentage of overall immigrants living in the city fell from 5,235 in 2016 to 3,925 in 2021, reflecting an overall Alberta-wide trend over the past five years.
Yet, economists are stressing that attracting new immigrants is crucial to keeping the province’s economic engine humming as the Canadian-born population dwindles in the years ahead.
Nwigwe can understand the difficulty of settling in a new place with few people who look like you or share your background.
“It’s hard. People want to belong,” she said, so anyone who feels disconnected from a community will go elsewhere — perhaps to bigger centres that have more people they can relate to.
I Can’t Breathe, which will also be shown starting in February on the Telus Optik channel, dramatizes some incidents of discrimination that Nwigwe heard about in the Red Deer area.
This includes a time when police officers “traumatized” a young Black girl by questioning her about why she was exercising in a local park. The film also recounts patients who abruptly leave a doctor’s office upon realizing he is African, as well as other forms of workplace discrimination and schoolyard bullying.
Nwigwe, a wellness consultant and first-time filmmaker, said she wanted to help spark a community discussion around the impacts of racism. Her film shows how these negative encounters reverberate through a community, not only impacting victims but also their families and friends.
The screening of I Can’t Breathe and following question-and-answer session are free to the public, but donations will be collected.