OCASI Calls on Federal Government to End Canada’s Hate Crime Problem
Toronto/June 15, 2017 / OCASI - Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants is deeply disturbed by the rise in hate crimes in 2015, particularly the rise in Islamophobia and targeting of Muslim and Arab residents.
These findings were reported in Statistics Canada’s recent Juristat article "Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2015", released on June 13. The findings confirm how much work there still is to be done to counter the prevailing and pervasive anti Black Racism, Islamophobia and anti- Semitism, and that as Canadians we can't be complacent about these realities.
The 2015 federal election and the recent Conservative party leadership race, as well as the often callous dismissal of the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and the treatment of Indigenous peoples in Canada, show us that xenophobia and racism against Indigenous and racialized communities and discrimination against religious minorities are deeply-embedded. We must continue the intentional and conscious work towards elimination of racism and discrimination if we are to achieve a just society.
We are especially concerned by Statistics Canada findings that hate crimes targeting Muslims rose 61% in 2015 and rose 33% for Arab and West Asian populations. The report noted a deeply troubling increase in female victims of violent crimes motivated by hate of a religion, 53% in 2015 compared with 40% in 2014. It also noted that in 2010 to 2015, Muslim populations had the highest percentage of female victims (53%).
Equally alarming is the fact that Black populations are disproportionately targeted by hate crimes related to race or ethnicity at 17% of all hate crimes. The report also noted the persistence of hate crimes targeting sexual orientation, and that they were most likely to be violent crimes. While the report notes a decline in these numbers they continue to be a serious concern.
The experience of OCASI member agencies and allies tell us that the Statistics Canada findings describe only a part of the reality for Indigenous, racialized and religious and sexual minorities. Hate crimes often go unreported to the police for a variety of reasons, including a fear of police, precarious immigration status, systemic racism and more, and therefore will not be included in the Statistics Canada data. The reality of Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia in Canada goes much deeper, and calls for urgent action by all levels of government.
The Statistics Canada findings also confirm the critical need for groups such as OCASI to persist in their ongoing efforts to counter these harmful attitudes and actions. OCASI launched the first of its recent series of public education campaigns to counter the rise of Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia through visual ads in Toronto bus shelters exactly one year ago in June 2016. We continued those efforts through a second bus shelter ad campaign to counter anti-Black racism as part of the ‘Toronto For All’ campaign in collaboration with the City of Toronto. We partnered with the National Council of Canadian Muslims, Canadian Arab Institute and the Ontario Human Rights Commission in ‘Break the Behaviour’ campaign to develop public education videos to counter racism.
OCASI calls on the government of Canada to:
- Undertake widespread public education to counter racism, hate, Islamophobia and xenophobia and work with Canadians to build a society where we all belong and are not merely tolerated.
- Regularize the status of those without immigration status in Canada so that they are not made further vulnerable to hate crimes, as well as discrimination and exploitation. They are members of our communities and deserve to be treated with dignity, live in safety and receive the full protection given to all other residents.
Senior Coordinator, Policy and Communications
Tel: 416.322.4950 x 239