Last year on Jan. 29, Alexandre Bissonnette opened fire during evening prayers at an Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City. Six people were killed and 19 were injured.
Canadians were shocked, and the tragedy made headlines around the world.
This year, many called for the government to mark the day in commemoration as National Day Against Islamophobia, to not only remember the victims, but to take a stand against Islamophobia across Canada.
This was a horrific act that directly targeted the muslim community, and we as Canadians cannot let something like this happen again.
As a nation we must ask – do we have a problem with Islamophobia and how can we stop it?
Aisha Ahmad, is an assistant professor in the University of Toronto’s department of political science. She said in an interview with CBC News that statistical data shows that we do have a problem.
“In our society it’s become more socially acceptable to target and discriminate against Muslims than any other group,” she explained. “There is a disparity between how Canadians feel about non-Muslim immigrant groups and Muslims and it’s clear there are far higher negative responses about Muslims.”
According to Statistics Canada the number of police-reported anti-Muslim hate crimes jumped by 60 per cent in 2015. Since then it is common to see hate crimes against Muslims reported in the news on almost a weekly basis.
In 2016 The Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council (AMPAC) launched a toll-free Islamophobia help hotline for Muslims who have faced discrimination. In the wake of the Quebec Mosque shooting last year, they reported calls going up dramatically.
Despite these reports polls have found that the majority of Canadians do have a generally positive impression of Muslims.
Eighty-eight percent of those surveyed said Muslims should be treated no differently than any other Canadian and 78 per cent thought they should maintain their religious and cultural practices.
But a majority of respondents thought that there was ‘an increasing climate of hatred and fear towards Muslims in Canada and that it will get worse.’
Canadians pride themselves on being a country that is diverse and open to all cultures. As incidents of Islamophobia rise, we need to all do our part to show that we will not accept this kind of hate in the workplace or anywhere in society.
Teamsters Local 362 intends on implementing committees of rank and file members to represent the five key equity groups recognized by the Canadian Labour Congress. These committees will help address many forms of discrimination in the workplace and in the community.
Unions have fought hard against all forms of discrimination inside and outside the workplace, including Islamophobia. No matter your race, religion or gender, you should always feel like a part of the community in Canada.