Saskatchewan Country Music Association forming inclusivity committee after racist comment

It is never easy having to have a discussion about systemic racism within your organization and how to remove it, but that is what the Saskatchewan Country Music Association has had to do this month.

During a meeting to talk about the 2021 awards show, Saskatoon’s Jarrid Lee asked what had happened to the Indigenous Artist of the Year award.  Board member Reg Wilke responded by saying “why should we give them an award when they’re just going to pawn it off anyway?’ in what he thought was a joke.  Lee, who is indigenous, did not take that as a joke and was furious as he left the meeting in disgust.

Wilke did apologize for what he said and has stepped down from the board.  SCMA president Wes Labrash issued a statement saying he, and many others within the SCMA, recognize accept and regret that racism and system discrimination exist within Saskatchewan, within the country music industry, and within the SCMA.  As a result, he says an inclusivity committee is being formed as the association is made up of diverse individuals from different ethnicities, sexes, sexual orientations, economic backgrounds, and social circles whict is something that should be encouraged and celebrated.

Lee is glad the SCMA has his back, but while they do and are taking steps to correct past behaviours, he does have one question.

“Why wasn’t this talked about a long time ago.” Lee said. “It shouldn’t have taken an incident like this to happen for the conversation to get started, but I am kind of glad it did.”

Lee says you need to look at your moral compass and that while change is uncomfortable, it is inevitable.


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