News / Calgary

Documentary explores racism in Calgary

Filmmaker asks why we can't talk about it

Iman Bukhari spent a year and a half working on YYC Colours, to explore the different opinions on racism in Calgary.

Courtesy Iman Bukhari

Iman Bukhari spent a year and a half working on YYC Colours, to explore the different opinions on racism in Calgary.

Are Calgarians racist?

That’s the discussion Iman Bukhari wants to spark with her documentary, YYC Colours.

It all started when a friend of hers recalled a racist incident – and other members of the group gave a startling reaction.

“One of them said, well, what do you expect? It’s Calgary. You live in Alberta,” Bukhari recalled.

She then put out a call for anyone in the city who had experienced racism, or wanted to talk about the issue in her documentary, to email her.

She received hundreds of replies, and found a ‘that’s the way it is’ attitude towards racism in Calgary was a common sentiment.

She talked to Calgarians who were shaken by big, racist incidents – and those that were affected by constant micro aggressions.

“A lot of time, if you have really curly hair, people go and touch it,” Bukhari recalled. “A lot of the people I spoke to said, we don’t like that. We’re not an animal, you can’t just touch our hair.”

Although people were willing to talk in front of the camera, Bukhari said many Calgarians shy away from discussing the issue in social circles.

“It’s such a taboo topic,” she said. For example, if I’m sitting in a café and I’m talking to my friends about this, they’re always turning around and saying, hey, keep your voice low. I think that’s ridiculous – why can’t we talk about this?”

Through making the documentary, people of colour told Bukhari that they don’t talk about racism because they’re afraid of being targeted – and Caucasians told her they don’t discuss it because they’re afraid of becoming known as privileged people in society.

YYC Colours premieres at the Globe Cinema Theatre on April 9.