One year ago today – January 29, 2017 – Canadians learned of the mass murder of six people, and the wounding of many others at a Centre culturel islamique de Québec in Quebec City. I was riveted by my tiny screen as the events were reported in real time on social media late into the night – a bystander watching from behind a glass window powerless to do anything.
The Government has the power to take action to protect people who are being harmed by racism and Islamophobia, and we call on it to boldly do so. There is considerable scope for the Government to develop positions, policies and programs that promote inclusion and respect, especially for racial and religious minorities. These types of actions are consistent with the values of Canadians and the Charter.
A few months ago, I visited Thunder Bay and had the opportunity to speak with members of the Indigenous community. Community members told me about their concerns related to policing and child welfare, trafficking of Indigenous women and girls, and everyday racism in almost every facet of their lives including employment, housing, healthcare and retail. Most strikingly, people talked about being “garbaged” – literally having garbage thrown at them while walking down the street, all because of their Indigenous ancestry. I brought these concerns to the leaders that I met later in the day, including the Mayor and police.
Toronto – After intervening in the case of The Estate of Kulmiye Aganeh v. Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the OHRC has reached a settlement with the Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care (formerly known as Mental Health Centre Penetanguishene).
This policy statement is based on the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) Policy on language and discrimination. The statement explains the relationship between the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code), language-based discrimination and French-language minority rights under other laws.
What is racial profiling?
Racial profiling is a specific type of racial discrimination that pertains to safety and security. The OHRC currently defines racial profiling as:
[A]ny action undertaken for reasons of safety, security or public protection that relies on stereotypes about race, colour, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, or place of origin rather than on reasonable suspicion, to single out an individual for greater scrutiny or different treatment.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission has released a Policy statement on religious accommodation in schools.
March 2017 - Education providers are responsible for many things, including delivering a curriculum, managing the various other aspects of educational services, ensuring student safety, fostering pluralistic environments that respect human rights, and managing tension and conflict as they arise in the school setting. Schools ought to be a place for healthy discussions about acceptance and where a diversity of views can co-exist. Educators should communicate messages about difference in a fair and respectful manner and be sensitive to the views of everyone protected by the Ontario Human Rights Code. Students, staff and parents should realize that they cannot reasonably expect their own views and beliefs to be respected if they are not willing to respect the views and beliefs of others.
February 28, 2017 - Dear Minister Lalonde, I am writing today to provide you with a summary of what we learned. There are some issues that appear unique to the Kenora Jail that raise human rights concerns and warrant further consideration and action on the part of the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS). I look forward to discussing these issues further at our upcoming meeting scheduled for early March.
Beyond remorse – to action. It has now been two weeks since the tragic attack on a Quebec City mosque. Many individuals and organizations across Canada properly voiced their outrage, their sorrow and their support for our Muslim neighbours. But there is more to be done – and this is the time to do it. Taking lasting action is the best way to remember and honour the victims. First, we must acknowledge that Islamophobia is real, and is embedded across our society including right here in Ontario.