Federal government must increase efforts to end Islamophobia in Canada

January 28, 2022

On this first ever National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action Against Islamophobia, Canada’s unions are calling on the federal government to take increased action to confront Islamophobia and hate in Canada.

January 29 marks the anniversary of a gruesome and deadly day in Canada’s history. On this day in 2017, worshippers at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City were subject to a deadly act of hate when a gunman entered the mosque and opened fire. Six people were killed, and many more injured. Canada’s unions supported community calls to commemorate the anniversary with a national day of remembrance and action.

“We welcome the recognition of January 29 as a day of commemoration, reflection and dialogue, and a strong national reminder of the deadly impacts of Islamophobia and rising hate in Canada,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “But Islamophobia, and anti-Muslim sentiment specifically, have only grown since that terrible day in 2017. We must work together to put an end to the hate rhetoric, violent acts, and harassment of Muslim people in Canada, and the federal government has a responsibility to take the lead.”

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of hate crimes reported to police has gone up from 1,951 incidents in 2019 to 2,669 in 2020, with those reported crimes targeting ethnicity or race almost doubling from one year to the next. This shows the highest number of police-reported hate crimes since Statistics Canada began tracking this data in 2009.

On June 6, 2021, five members of the Afzaal family were out for a walk in London, Ontario, when a vehicle attacked them, killing four members and leaving one survivor ꟷ a nine-year-old boy.

“The violent attack on the Afzaal family showed us that we must redouble our efforts to combat Islamophobia and hate in all its forms. Threats, harassment, intimidation and hate speech are also experienced online, where hate spreads easily and rapidly, and goes largely unchecked,” said Larry Rousseau, CLC Executive Vice-President. “Those spewing hate pose a serious threat to the well-being of all workers, especially those who are members of marginalized communities.”

Canada’s unions look forward to seeing the federal government introduce legislation to address online hate as soon as possible in order to properly and effectively help combat this rising issue.

The federal government’s announcement in the Speech from the Throne in November 2021 of a renewed anti-racism strategy, and campaign promise of presenting a National Action Plan on Combating Hate by 2022, must include meaningful and ongoing consultation with Muslim communities to address Islamophobia. The renewed strategy and Action Plan must also incorporate policy recommendations made by Muslim organizations coming out of the National Summit on Islamophobia that took place in July 2021.

Canada’s unions are committed to fighting Islamophobia and all forms of hate, and will continue to work with all levels of government to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all workers.

Show your support:

  • Join the Green Square Campaignto remember and stand in solidarity with the victims and survivors of the Quebec City mosque attack;
  • Join or organize a vigil in your community or attend an online event or webinar.

Read CLC’s report on confronting Islamophobia in our workplaces and communities: Islamophobia at Work: Challenges and Opportunities, which includes recommendations for employers, unions, and government on how to address this issue.

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