Communities urge all levels of government to take action to confront hate
-For Immediate Release-
Number of reported hate crimes rose in 2015: Statistics Canada
(Ottawa – June 13, 2017) The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), along with a coalition of community representatives and subject matter experts, is calling on all levels of government to do more to address hate crimes in Canada based on latest figures which indicate a rise in such reported crimes against several communities.
The NCCM was joined in a press conference today on Parliament Hill by representatives from Black, Indigenous, Muslim, and Jewish communities in responding to Statistics Canada’s 2015 police-reported hate crimes data and report.
« Hate crimes rose by 5% in Canada in 2015, largely due to an increase in incidents targeting certain religious and ethno-cultural groups, specifically the Muslim population and Arabs or West Asians, » reads a summary of the Stats Can report. Hate crimes against Muslims rose by 61%, the most significant increase.
« The tragic and cold-blooded murder of six men at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec last January is a painful reminder of how hate can destroy lives and deeply shake communities, » says Khalid Elgazzar, NCCM Vice-Chair and legal counsel. « Today’s numbers capture only a fraction of what is happening in our neighbourhoods, in our workplaces, in our schools, and at our places of worship. »
Others added their deep concern about the racism and hatred experienced by various communities.
« Canada’s Indigenous Peoples have been facing racism and hate for centuries now, » says Robert Bertrand, National Chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples (CAP). « The Residential School system was a direct bi-product of that racism and hate. We must use these statistics to spark change and shine a light on the status quo. They must trigger a change in attitude and policy. Anything less would be accepting hatred into our society. »
Black communities represent 17% of all hate crimes, ahead of any other population. Overall, 48% of all police-reported hate crimes in 2015 were motivated by hatred of a race or ethnicity.
« Anti-Black racism is a serious problem in Canada, » says Chelby Marie Daigle, author of Addressing Anti-Black Racism in Ottawa report, sponsored by the Ottawa Local Immigration Partnership (OLIP) in collaboration with the City for All Women Initiative (CAWI). « My community needs to become a priority for government and other institutions to consult with on addressing this issue and we definitely aren’t now, despite the years of being one of the most targeted groups. »
While hate crimes targeting Jewish communities have declined, these communities are still the most targeted religious group in Canada.
« The Jewish community is traumatized by the types of anti-Semitic hate crimes that we saw here in Ottawa last November, » says Mark Zurecki from Jewish Family Services. « There is deep trauma related to the memory of the Holocaust. »
Statistics Canada reported that « females were more likely to be victims in incidents targeting a religion, and the presence of female victims in violent crimes motivated by hatred of a religion increased in 2015. That year, 53% of these victims were female, compared with 40% in 2014. The increase in female victims of religious hate crimes is attributed to an increase in female victims for Jewish and Muslim hate crimes from 2014 to 2015. »
« Muslim and Jewish women in particular bear the brunt of being targets of hate crimes. It has been an unfortunate reality with reported incidents on the streets, at the workplace or in a shopping mall, » says Farhat Rehman of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women (CCMW). « Being objects of such attacks is a key factor in causing trauma, alienation, depression and low self worth in young women and men. Civil society and all levels of government need to step up with resources and act quickly to allocate urgently needed funds to school programs and agencies involved in education, public awareness and prevention of conflict and violence in our communities.
Calling for concrete action
The representatives and subject matter experts joined the NCCM in calling for:
* The federal government to provide increased, stable funding to ensure that hate crime reports are made available to the public in a more timely fashion;
* The federal government to study the growth of online hate, a phenomena with which we are increasingly concerned;
* Municipalities and their respective police services to create or boost funding and resources for hate crimes units, provide officers with relevant training, and ensure that hate crime data is submitted to Statistics Canada more quickly;
* Police services to publish annual reports on hate crimes and hate incidents that are publicly made available by the end of every calendar year. The Hamilton Police Service and the Toronto Police Service are currently the only two services we are aware of which provide this information;
* Police services to provide greater documentation and transparency around how police determine whether or not to investigate an alleged hate crime;
* Provincial governments, through their Attorney Generals, to provide adequate support for investigating and prosecuting hate crimes.
« It is up to all levels of governments to ensure that perpetrators of hate crimes in Canada are held to account and that victims and communities are empowered to confront hatred regardless of who it targets or its motivation, » says Elgazzar. « We therefore call on our federal, provincial and municipal governments to work together to help eradicate this phenomenon. »