NCCM welcomes Ontario government’s pledge to combat systemic racism and Islamophobia

Announcement latest in several positive national and provincial moves to confront anti-Muslim discrimination

– For Immediate Release –

(Ottawa – September 26, 2016) The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a prominent civil liberties and advocacy organization, welcomes the Ontario government’s latest move to examine and confront systemic racism and Islamophobia through its recently created Anti-Racism Directorate (ARD).

In a mandate letter issued last week to the minister responsible for Anti-Racism, Minister Michael Coteau is tasked with meeting a number of important objectives including “developing a cross-government approach to combat racism including, but not limited to, Indigenous racism, anti-Black racism and Islamophobia.”

The commitments include to engage with anti-racism leaders, experts and community partners.

“The Minister’s mandate letter reflects conversations and input that have been happening across diverse communities around this province, since the creation of the ARD,” says NCCM’s Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee. “The NCCM is looking forward to continuing to engage on this issue with the ministry, to communicate the concerns and issues identified by community members when it comes to issues around all forms of racism and Islamophobia.”

Also, this past week, the leader of the Ontario NDP Andrea Horwath announced her party would be presenting a bill to designate October as Islamic Heritage Month in that province. For the past several years, provinces and municipalities across Canada have marked October as Islamic History Month.

At the federal level, a petition to condemn all forms of Islamophobia was introduced earlier this year by Liberal MP Frank Baylis and has so far garnered close to 50,000 signatures. The petition can be signed up until October 6, 2016.

“Canadians are working towards removing and addressing barriers and discrimination across this country. Islamophobia, like other forms of racism, bigotry, and hatred, hurts all of us. We stand firm with all communities in pledging our commitment to helping encourage more dialogue, understanding, mutual respect and appreciation for the enriching power of our nation’s great diversity.”

The NCCM maintains an interactive database of reported hate crimes and incidents, which was launched in 2015 as part of a national awareness campaign. The number of hate crimes and incidents documented in the database more than doubled between 2014 and 2015. Statistics Canada data shows a doubling between 2012 to 2014. Individuals and organizations across Canada also recently signed on to NCCM’s Charter for Inclusive Communities, launched earlier this year to bring attention to this growing trend.