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.”

Just Posted

Red Deer Express to publish final edition Wednesday

Black Press strengthens commitment to Red Deer Advocate

Red Deer County ponders garden suite proposal

Property owner’s garden suite plans exceed county regulations

Make Parsons house preservation an election issue, Red Deer city councillor suggests

Coun. Michael Dawe says candidates can be questioned about where they stand

PHOTO: Everybody Loves a Sale

Dozens of people wanted a chance to scoop up some discounted Canada Winter Games merchandise

Red Deer County posts big surplus

2018 operating budget came in with $5.8 million surplus

Slow cooker or Instant Pot?

Now that the viral craze surrounding the Instant Pot has quieted down… Continue reading

Millennial Money: There’s more than one way to slay a debt

The saying that debt is easy to get into and hard to… Continue reading

Bianca Andreescu’s win streak ends after early exit because of injury

MIAMI — The injury bug has derailed Bianca Andreescu’s impressive run. The… Continue reading

CONCACAF teams to learn Nations League draw on Wednesday in Las Vegas

Canada will learn its next CONCACAF Nations League opponents at Wednesday’s draw… Continue reading

Alanis Morissette announces pregnancy in Instagram photo

Alanis Morissette is pregnant with her third child. The Grammy-winning singer posted… Continue reading

“MLB The Show 19” allows video gamers a chance to relive baseball history

TORONTO — From Babe Ruth’s debut as a pitcher to Jose Bautista’s… Continue reading

Canada Revenue Agency tax services back online after ‘hardware’ problems

OTTAWA — The websites Canadians use to file their taxes online were… Continue reading

Roof structures failed before Radiohead stage came down, inquest hears

TORONTO — Metal structures meant to hold a roof over a stage… Continue reading

Most Read