Don’t let refugees become scapegoats, anti-racism groups say

As more news emerged Thursday of anti-Muslim incidents across the country, a coalition of anti-racism groups called on all Canadians to ensure Syrian refugees heading here in the weeks to come don't become scapegoats following the terrorist attacks in Paris.

TORONTO — As more news emerged Thursday of anti-Muslim incidents across the country, a coalition of anti-racism groups called on all Canadians to ensure Syrian refugees heading here in the weeks to come don’t become scapegoats following the terrorist attacks in Paris.

The coalition, comprised of groups that include the Canadian Arab Federation and the African-Canadian Legal Clinic, held a news conference at the Ontario legislature to decry what it described as an alarming increase in hate crimes.

“We cannot use these new Syrian refugees that we commit to bring here to Canada as a scapegoat for these crimes against other innocent civilians,” said Mohamed Boudjenane, the acting president of the Canadian Arab Federation.

“These same people we’re bringing into Canada … are the main victims of these terrorist groups.”

The news conference was held as the Toronto Transit Commission reported that two women wearing hijabs were harassed and assaulted on the subway during the evening rush hour on Wednesday.

Two men and a woman made abusive comments, suggested the women were terrorists and pushed one of the women, a TTC spokesman said.

“The TTC condemns this behaviour and racist act utterly and completely — there are no words, frankly, that are strong enough,” Brad Ross said in a statement.

An Ottawa radio station also reported Thursday that a Muslim student at Carleton University says she found a racist note in her mailbox saying: “Canada is no place for immigrants or terrorists. Go back home.” CFRA posted a photo of the hand-written note on its website.

Racist graffiti targeted at Muslim women was also discovered Wednesday night in the washroom of a commuter GO Train, said transit agency Metrolinx.

In Montreal earlier this week, police arrested a man after a YouTube video showed someone wearing a Joker mask saying one Arab would be murdered in Quebec every week.

Those incidents follow an attack on a hijab-wearing Muslim woman in Toronto and a fire at a mosque in Peterborough, Ont., that is being investigated as a hate crime.

The backlash has the anti-racism coalition worried about what’s in store for the 25,000 Syrian refugees Canada has committed to settling by the end of the year.

The refugees coming to Canada are not people just showing up at the border, as asylum-seekers often do, said Ontario Health Minister Eric Hoskins — they have mostly been “languishing in refugee camps for upwards of four years” where they may not have had good access to clean water, adequate food and education.

The province has formed an ad hoc cabinet committee on refugees to co-ordinate planning on offering them housing, education, health services, including mental health supports, and language and employment training.

But in addition to the government and social services help, Hoskins said he wants to tap into the outpouring he has seen from the general public, particularly around the holiday season.

Many people have been forming groups to privately sponsor refugees, but others who may not be able to do so could help. An Arabic speaker could act as a translator, Hoskins pointed out, while a retired teacher could help refugee children prepare to attend school. People can also donate clothing and non-perishable food items.

“We’re looking at how can we provide an appropriate channel for that goodwill to be realized,” he said. “What we’re doing is so beautifully Canadian and what this province stands for in terms of us wanting to come together and help people in need.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 1,731 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday

The province’s central zone has 992 active cases

Collin Orthner, manager at McBain Camera in downtown Red Deer, stands behind the store’s counter on Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
A few Red Deer businesses happy with Black Friday results

While this year’s Black Friday wasn’t as successful as it was in… Continue reading

Le Chateau Inc. is the latest Canadian firm to start producing personal protective equipment for health care workers, in a July 3, 2020 story. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Hundreds of millions of dollars for frontline workers yet to be released, says Alberta Federation of Labour

Information recently released by the Alberta Federation of Labour suggests more than… Continue reading

Red Deer RCMP say a 30-year-old man faces sexual charges against a teen. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Man killed in two-vehicle collision near Penhold, says Blackfalds RCMP

A 46-year-old man is dead following a two-vehicle collision on Highway 42… Continue reading

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Banff National Park. (The Canadian Press)
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

EDMONTON — A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths on railway tracks… Continue reading

Cows on pasture at the University of Vermont dairy farm eat hay Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Burlington, Vt. Canadian dairy farmers are demanding compensation from the government because of losses to their industry they say have been caused by a series of international trade deals. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Lisa Rathke
Feds unveil more funding for dairy, poultry and egg farmers hurt by free trade deals

OTTAWA — Canadian egg and poultry farmers who’ve lost domestic market share… Continue reading

Chief Public Health Officer of Canada Dr. Theresa Tam speaks during a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. Canada's top doctor says the country is still on a troubling track for new COVID-19 infections as case counts continue mounting in much of the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
COVID-19 cases in Canada remain on troubling course, Tam says, amid rising numbers

Canada’s top doctor says the country is still on a troubling track… Continue reading

hay
Hay’s Daze: Giraffe knows filling wishes can sometimes be a tall order

Last weekend, I had a lovely breakfast. “So what?” you may say.… Continue reading

A person enters a building as snow falls in Ottawa, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. Ottawa has been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 during its second wave thanks to the city’s residents who have been wearing masks and staying home, said Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
People to thank for Ottawa’s success with curbing COVID-19: health officer

The city’s chief medical officer said much of the credit goes to the people who live in Ottawa

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says tonight's public video gaming session with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is about reaching young people where they hang. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP leader stoked over ‘epic crossover’ in video gaming sesh with AOC

Singh and AOC discussed importance of universal pharmacare, political civility, a living wage

A south view of the Ward Hunt Ice Shelf breaking apart is seen from Ward Hunt Island, Nunavut, in an Aug. 20, 2011, handout photo. The remote area in the northern reach of the Nunavut Territory, has seen ice cover shrink from over 4 metres thick in the 1950s to complete loss, according to scientists, during recent years of record warming. Scientists are urging the federal government to permanently protect a vast stretch of Canada's remotest High Arctic called the Last Ice Area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-CEN/Laval University, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Scientists urge permanent protection of Last Ice Area in Canada’s High Arctic

Tuvaijuittuq has the thickest and oldest ice in the Arctic

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s $55 million Lotto Max jackpot

No winning ticket was sold for the $55 million jackpot in Friday… Continue reading

Most Read