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Islamophobia: Constructive Action is Required

June 8, 2021

On June 6, 2021, five family members were purposely run down by a man driving a pickup truck. They were out for an evening walk, waiting to cross a street in London, Ontario. Four members of the family were murdered while the other, a child, was seriously injured. The perpetrator of this violent act has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. Police say the attack was premeditated, and that the family members were targeted because they were of Islamic faith.

Leaders from across Canada have called this an intentional act of terror and hatred. An act in which three generations of a family were lost at once.

In the wake of this horrific crime, people throughout Canada have declared their support for the grieving Muslim community in London, and have stood in solidarity with Muslim communities across the country.

This solidarity affirms that an attack on people of the Islamic faith is an attack on the fundamental freedom of conscience and religion of every Canadian.

Violent and hateful acts predicated upon Islamophobia have no place in our society – and yet, they persist. From 2015 to 2019, the National Council of Canadian Muslims tracked more than 300 incidents of hate targeting Muslims, including more than 30 acts of physical violence. According to the most recent data available from Statistics Canada, there were 696 police-reported hate crimes against Muslims between 2017 and 2019.

This is unacceptable. We all know what our country should be – what it can be – and this is not it.

It is time for transformative and lasting change. Time for governments, society, and individuals to take action and stamp out Islamophobia and hate. We need strong leadership. We need explicit, purposeful, and intentional action led by government. We need a rigorous, clearly defined strategy and action plan to quell the rising tide of hate. We must prosecute domestic terrorism to the fullest extent. We need to invest in K-to-12 education on the rights of citizenship, the responsibility of citizenship, and the respect that every citizen deserves, so that the youth of tomorrow do not espouse the hate we see today.

The Commission is mandated by The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, 2018 to uphold “the principle that every person is free and equal in dignity and rights without regard to religion, creed, marital status, family status, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, age, colour, ancestry, nationality, place of origin, race or perceived race or receipt of public assistance.”

Under its mandate, the Commission is committed to work with leaders to create an explicit and purposeful strategy that will help eradicate hateful words and actions in our communities.

As Canadian citizens and members of one human family it is our duty to respond to hate, to uphold democracy, to act on our collective responsibilities, to stand with those whose rights and freedoms are under threat, and to make our country and the world a better place. We can no longer be idle bystanders.



David M. Arnot, Chief Commissioner
Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission