Charter for Inclusive Communities successfully launched across Canada
Community leaders & elected officials vow to fight Islamophobia
(Ottawa- July 5, 2016) The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a prominent civil liberties & advocacy organization, was joined yesterday by community leaders and elected officials in six cities across the country to endorse the NCCM Charter for Inclusive Communities to condemn all forms of Islamophobia.
The Charter for Inclusive Communities affirms the dignity of every person and calls for a concerted effort to counter prejudice and hate and to develop programs and policies specific to the reduction and elimination of Islamophobia in all its forms.
The NCCM’s call for action comes as an increasing number of Islamophobic incidents occur across the country, and as a new survey indicates that an « epidemic of Islamophobia » exists in Ontario. Across the country, discrimination and stereotyping of Canadian Muslims is growing in frequency and intensity. Statistics Canada shows a doubling of hate crimes against Muslims in Canada between 2012 and 2014.
According to a 2016 Environics Institute report, one in three Canadian Muslims reported experiencing discrimination in the past five years. When asked to identify the most important issue facing Canadian Muslims today, more than one in three Canadian Muslims pointed to discrimination or poor treatment by broader society.
« Communities across Canada came together to reaffirm their shared commitment to the values of mutual respect, dignity and equality for all, » says NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee. « Community leaders and elected officials from across party lines must continue to forcefully speak out against Islamophobia and these prejudicial attitudes. We must find ways together to counter such hate and ignorance that is impacting our communities. Everyone has a role to play. »
In news conferences held across the country in Calgary, Vancouver, London, Windsor, Toronto, and Montreal, the NCCM was joined by dozens of community leaders, law enforcement officials, elected representatives from all levels of government and from all parties, to denounce acts of Islamophobia and to vow to work together to build a more inclusive society.
The hashtag #inclusivecommunities was trending on Twitter and will be continued to be used on social media in the coming weeks and months to invite Canadians to endorse the Charter.
Statements by elected officials & community allies
« When we experience hate, when we see hate, it is incumbent on all of us to speak up. It is incumbent of all of us to stand; to say that there is no place for hate. So today I commit myself in support of this Charter, I commit to you that I will do everything I can to spread the word, to bring others to the table, to join united with us in one voice and say no hate crimes, to discrimination, to racism. »
– Jenny Kwan, MP Vancouver East
« It’s simply unacceptable that hates crimes against Muslim Canadians continue to rise. In the face of such violence, we must reaffirm our openness, our love for each other, and our determination to build a better future together. Islamophobia, like all other forms of racism, hate, xenophobia, and bigotry, affect people in real and lasting ways. We must be proactive in making sure that Ontario can be a better place for everyone-a province of greater inclusivity, respect, equality, justice, and opportunity. »
– Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath
« You are not here to become a generic Canadian. You are here to bring your faith, your culture, and to shine bright with those and to make this a better place. You are not just accepted in Vancouver and in B.C., you are valued and you are celebrated. »
– Councillor Heather Deal, Deputy Mayor of Vancouver
« The Labour movement must stand in solidarity with all working people, and challenge any form of prejudice or discrimination. In these trying times, we have a special responsibility to do so with our Muslim sisters and brothers. Learning from each other, building a culture of understanding, reaching out to those who are feeling marginalized, working to eliminate discrimination in all its forms – these are key steps to embracing our common humanity. We all need to work for the kind of future we want to share together as Canadians. »
– John Cartwright, President, Toronto & York Region Labour Council
Speakers endorsing the Charter at the news conferences included:
Leona Alleslev – Liberal MP, Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill
Teresa Armstrong – NDP MPP, London Fanshawe
Frank Baylis – Liberal MP, Pierrefonds-Dollard
Heather Deal – Deputy Mayor, City of Vancouver
Peter Fragiskatos – Liberal MP, London North Centre
Lisa Gretzky – NDP MPP, Windsor West
Paul Hubert, Deputy Mayor, City of London
Sandra Jansen – Progressive Conservative MLA, Calgary-North West
Jenny Kwan – NDP MP, Vancouver East
Brian Masse – NDP MP, Windsor West
Irene Mathyssen, NDP MP, Fanshawe North
Deepak Obhrai – Conservative MP, Calgary Forest Lawn
Brian Pincott – Calgary City Councillor, Ward 11
Peggy Sattler, NDP MPP, London West
Jagmeet Singh – NDP MPP, Bramalea-Gore-Malton
Kate Young – Liberal MP, London West
Dr. Reem Bahdi – Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Windsor
Michael Erikson – Co-Owner of Gladd Day Bookshop
Dr. Anne Forrest – Director of Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Windsor
Shawna Lewkowitz – member of the London Diversity and Race Relations
Supt. John St. Louis – Windsor Police Service
Dr. Ingrid Mattson – London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies, Huron University College, Western University
Barbara Martines – North Leamington United Mennonite Church
John Pare – Chief of London Police Service
Additional statements of support:
« NCCM is doing important work to draw together vulnerable communities and to make real the spirit of Ontario’s Human Rights Code. I applaud these efforts; the OHRC has participated with NCCM on recent initiatives to address Islamophobia and we look forward to further cooperation with future work. »
Renu Mandhane, Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC)
« Hate and bigotry can be muscular emotions. History has taught us well that like an immutable virus there is no lasting antidote. My parents were European Jewish refugees both of whom had to confront vile antisemitism and were forced to leave their ancestral homes in order to survive. Canada offered new hope. Today we must do the same for our Muslim brothers and sisters; offer hope. By endorsing the NCCM’s Charter for Inclusive Communities we can embrace that hope and stand shoulder to shoulder with them in fighting Islamophobia and all forms of hatred and intolerance. »
Bernie M. Farber, Executive Director, Mosaic Institute
« The Charter of Inclusive Communities is a powerful statement that those who endorse it remain committed to the core values of which Canadians are so rightfully proud: equality, respect, justice, and the dignity of all persons. The Charter is announced at a crucial time, that is, on the heels of an apparent increase in Islamophobic sentiment and behaviour nationally and globally. It stands as a reminder that xenophobia and racism are contrary to what most Canadians know to be right. I applaud NCCM and its partners for this very public commitment to challenging exclusionary practices at all levels of civil society. And I encourage agencies and individuals alike to publicly proclaim themselves to live and work by the principles set out in the Charter of Inclusive Communities. »
Dr. Barbara Perry, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, University of Ontario Institute of Technology
The NCCM maintains an interactive database of reported hate crimes and incidents, launched last June as part of a national hate crimes awareness campaign.