Imagine you are walking on the streets of Red Deer and a driver in a vehicle yells out, “You are an ISIS terrorist, go home.”
Such racial slurs are common on the streets of Red Deer, said Tymmarah Sheculski, human resources specialist — inclusion and diversity with the City of Red Deer. People of colour and Indigenous populations are subject to racial discrimination in the city, she said.
“They are walking down the street in Red Deer and somebody would yell out of their car, ‘You are an ISIS terrorist, go home,’” she said while giving examples of the type of issues that have been brought to her attention.
In another example, Sheculski said, while a woman was crossing a street, a vehicle charged at her to give her a scare.
She said racial slurs were reported to the Welcoming and Inclusive Community Network since the arrival of Syrian refugees in Red Deer.
When asked if the women in the examples were Syrians, Sheculski said no, which brings up another issue.
“Even if you’re not a Syrian refugee and maybe you’re not a Muslim but just because you’re a visible minority you are being treated disrespectfully because of the colour of your skin,” she said.
She has also been part of a conversation when two women of visible minority groups were discussing exercising more. The conversation went something like “Don’t walk out on the streets by yourself because they are not safe. Go to the track instead,” Sheculski said.
Under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which includes freedom of speech, it is not illegal to utter racial slurs. She said the intention of the Charter was not to utter racial slurs but some people use it to spew hate.
When asked if racial profiling or ‘carding’ by law enforcement officers is a common practice in Red Deer, she said it isn’t something that’s been brought to her attention.
She hopes, if it is an issue as some reports suggest it is in other cities such as Edmonton, people would bring it up.
“This issue has not been brought to my attention as a problem in Red Deer, that doesn’t mean it isn’t an issue. If it is, I hope people would bring it to my attention,” she said.
Alberta Justice has announced recently that it’s conducting province-wide checks to get community’s feedback on street checks.
Barry LaRocque with K-Division in Edmonton said street checks are based on behaviours and suspicious circumstances.
When asked if colour of a person plays a role in street checks, LaRocque said no and RCMP conducts biased-free policing.
What are you supposed to do if someone is discriminating against you? Sheculski is working to help minority groups with that.
Red Deer Welcoming and Inclusive Communities Network and the city is working together to put procedures in place that would answer questions like what are the procedures to follow if there’s a hate rally or what do you do when you are experiencing hateful slurs. Sheculski is hoping to have a plan in place before the end of this year.