What happened recently in New Zealand should make us reflect on hate crimes in our own country. There are 15 categories for victims of hate crimes set out by Statistics Canada. Every single one of those categories saw an increase in the number of crimes in 2017. In the same year, someone was assaulted with a deadly weapon or suffered an aggravated assault because of their ethnicity, their faith, or their sexual orientation every four days. The two groups most likely to be targeted by a hate crime in Canada are Jews and Muslims.
We need to move past thoughts and prayers. We need to do more than express our disapproval and disgust at outrages and instead start to reach out to the communities that were attacked. Don’t just talk about the need to build bridges, show up for Eid al-Fitr with something for people to eat and build a better community. Hope and trust are frail things, but they are the lifeblood of a stable democracy.
Because if we turn a blind eye to our collective responsibility, it is not only the affected minority that is impacted. We also turn our backs on the generations of hard work and tremendous sacrifice that have built Canada into what it is today. We forget the painful lessons on the need to learn from the mistreatment of minorities inscribed in the annals of our nation’s history. We become deaf to the voices from our past who had the courage to speak truth to power, and we cheapen the sacrifice which purchased whatever credit our country has in the affairs of the world.
We have come so far, although the journey before us remains. It is not a heroic struggle that is required to carry on our momentum but a simple gesture. A phone call. A card. An awkward question that is well-intentioned. If someone wants to break apart our communities, then break bread with those who were targeted. Few countries have come as far as Canada. We should stand together to ensure that every Canadian feels welcome in our society.