Canada’s Racially Segregated Library - Ask Abe

Canada’s racially segregated Library.

Did you know that the capital city of Alberta has a policy that racially segregates children?

The other day I went to the downtown Edmonton Public Library. Our EPL is not a private entity, it is part of our municipal government. And something surprised me inside.

As is common, there is a large designated children’s area where kids play and read. However, within the EPL’s main branch there was a large conspicuous sign at the entry to the children's section that read, “Brown Family Playspace”.

I was shocked. The government of Edmonton, under Mayor Sohi, had instituted an apartheid policy within the Public Library and had segregationist signage.

Please note that the signage was not a temporary paper sign taped to a wall. It was permanently spray-painted to a pillar.

While I was there, I did note that only brown children and parents were in that space. Non-brown children were present at the library, but none were inside that area. It seems the policy was being enforced.

South Africa was known as a racist country (pre-1994). Its distinguishing characteristic which garnered this unpleasant moniker was its apartheid policy.  Bing defines apartheid this way: “a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on [the] grounds of race”. This describes the EPL.

In the United States past, racism later took the form of segregationist policies, where one particular hue of skin melanin was excluded from areas permissible to another divergent hue of melanin. This again describes the EPL.

Racist policies are repugnant and Canada is notable in that it never practised institutionalized slavery. There were never any slaves in Canada. Canada has always recognized and legally enshrined the equality of its citizenry, whatever their ethnic makeup: That is until now.

The government of Edmonton has racist policies within its institutions, and racist policies usually come from racist individuals that make those policies. These apartheid policies need to be removed and the individuals that enacted them should be identified and fired. Hell, every staff member at that library location that didn’t lodge a formal complaint or quit over this should be fired. And it saddens me that Edmonton apparently has a racist Mayor and racist city councillors. They need to be removed from office in the next election. Perhaps they didn’t know, but these policies are occurring under their oversight, without an investigation, policy correction, and segregationist policymakers being terminated, they are complacent and approving.

One last note, while I was at the library dumbfoundedly staring at their conspicuous racist sign, a legacy TV news crew was setting up to engage in (from their perspective) hard-hitting journalism. A reporter and cameraman were asking a librarian questions. The library had started a new program where, instead of signing out books, you could sign out garden and flower seeds; apparently without returning them. They all stood there giggling and smiling and interviewing people about seeds. Then they walked out of the library, past the racist, apartheid, segregationist play area where light-coloured children were not allowed to enter, where they were not allowed to play or read because of their race. Apparently, the seeds were more newsworthy for the mainstream media.

Or maybe I'm just crazy.

Ask Abe.



  1. Question: Could it be a donor surname?
    Answer: that possibility did cross my mind: but a library is an institution that exists to advocate for literacy, so if it was meant to reference a surname, that would be a fragmented sentence. it seems odd for a library to communicate like someone who speaks english as a second language. if the sign is fragmented, and meaning a surname, they could have said: "the" brown family playspace. but even then, is the playspace only for that particular family's members? "A" brown family playspace would clearly delineate it as woke. if it isn't a fragmented sentence then its meaning, whether indended or not, leans woke.

    the choice of "family" is also curious. normally you'd think it would say "brown children playspace' if it was woke. the inclusion of "family" instead of "children" leans to the surname interpretation. but to those in the cultural revolution, where safe spaces are weapons of warfare, how do you designate a safe space only for children: without parental supervision? since a library requires parental supervision the rendering of "family" in a safe space would be a necessity.

    at the end of the day, the library's messaging is as confusing as hell and as clear as mud. donors are usually presented on nice brass plaques and not spray painted to the wall. and given today's political climate, and the presumption that a library is the one place you'd expect to find a high literary standard, the sign seems destined to offend the patriotic, or the brown family, lol.


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