@MosaicInstitute: Through Our Eyes: Understanding the Impact of Online Hate on Ontario Communities

While not representative as organizations and individuals were invited, nevertheless the highlights from the interim report are interesting:

  • 92% of respondents felt uncomfortable because of negative on social media about their race and/or ethnic origin.
  • 42% of people felt unsafe because of negative on social media about their race and/or ethnic origin.
  • 76% of respondents had witnessed online hate speech towards Black, Indigenous, Jewish and/or Muslim communities.
    • Only 25% of people think that social media posts promoting physical violence against Black, Indigenous, Jewish, and Muslims communities are not increasing.
    • Most people who identify as Black, Indigenous, Jewish, or Muslim either feel unsafe or aren’t sure if they feel safe responding to offensive content online
    • Most people think that there is more harmful than helpful content about minorities on social media
  • 38% of Black, Indigenous, Jewish, and Muslim respondents felt unsafe due to somethingthe experienced online
  • 24% of respondents knew someone who had experienced online hate with respect to COVID-19
  • 1 in 5 respondents sought mental health support due to experiences with online hate
  • Respondents generally feel that social media is a public place, and therefore subject to Canadian law
  • Only 35% think that people should be allowed to send any kind of message that they want, regardless of whether it is discriminatory

Source: https://mosaicadmin.hypertextlabs.com/uploads/KEY_FINDINGS_Through_Our_Eyes_Research_The_Mosaic_Institute_59145c82f2.pdf

Canada Confronts Growing Tensions Between Its Ethnic Communities | US News

Always interested to see how Canada is portrayed in the international media.

While this piece is refreshing in that it provide a more critical look than most, it presents a limited range of views (no matter how much I value the work of the Mosaic Institute).

And could reporters be less lazy in their reporting of hate crimes by looking at trends, not just one year results – the overall numbers have been relatively flat with some variation among groups:

During this past season’s observation of Hanukkah, at least a dozen synagogues and Jewish centers across Canada received the same letter — a sheet of paper bearing the depiction of a blood-soaked Star of David with a swastika in the middle. The message, written in bold black letters, was explicit: “Jews must perish.”

The incidents triggered police investigations across the country and critical declarations by Jewish leaders. But it also revealed blemishes on the social fabric of a country known for its harmony. “… this isn’t something that should upset just the Jewish community, it has to upset every Canadian because that’s not what we stand for, ” Judy Shapiro, associate executive director of the Calgary Jewish Federation, told reporters.

Canadians today find themselves grappling with issues that, from outside of the country, may appear very un-Canadian: reported hate crimes are increasing, some ethnic populations in the country increasingly are critical of how they’re treated by authorities and lawmakers are debating minority protections versus free speech rights.

“We like to hold on to the notion that Canadians value something called multiculturalism or pluralism,” says Pamela Divinsky, executive director of the Mosaic Institute, a Canadian think tank that promotes dialogue within diverse communities. “But there is growing discomfort with differences.”

To be sure, Canada is celebrated for its diversity and multiculturalism. In the 2015 Prosperity Index, put out by Legatum Institute, a London-based think tank, Canada finished first in the personal freedom category thanks to high scores in tolerance and civil liberties. Indeed, most Canadians would agree with the results of this week’s Best Countries survey results that for three consecutive years has ranked Canada as the country offering the greatest quality of life among the assessed nations.

But prominent social justice advocate Bernie Farber summed up today’s Canada by noting recently that relations between the country’s various communities “are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.”

Statistics Canada recently reported a 3 percent increase in hate crimes from 2015 to 2016, when 1,409 such crimes were reported to police. Jews were the most targeted group (221 incidents), followed by blacks (214 incidents) and members of the LGBT community (176 incidents). While hate crimes account for less than 0.1 percent of overall crime in Canada, government statisticians suspect that two-thirds of such crimes are not reported. They add that reporting rates might vary by population; some targeted groups might be more willing to report hate crimes than others.

Months before the letters addressed to synagogues and Jewish centers were put in the mail, members of the Jewish community reported a handful of other anti-Semitic incidents in the Toronto area, including the appearance of swastikas on the walls of a university classroom and the phrase “Hitler was right!” painted on highway infrastructure.

A year ago, meanwhile, a gunman burst into a Quebec City mosque during evening prayers and opened fire. Six men were shot and killed and 19 others were wounded. The alleged shooter, identified as 27-year-old French-Canadian Alexandre Bissonnette, will stand trial on charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder.

 Vigils across the country expressed support for the Muslim community, but that groundswell was soon overshadowed by heated debate over a proposal in the House of Commons to pass a non-binding motion condemning Islamophobia and religious discrimination. Opponents argue that it will limit free speech or single out Islam for special treatment in Canadian law. Thousands of Canadians signed petitions against the motion and some took part in organized protests, where they clashed with supporters of the motion. It was passed in late March.

The Muslim community, which was the target of 139 hate crimes in 2016, was at the center of controversy again last October, when Quebec lawmakers passed legislation requiring people in that province to uncover their faces when giving or receiving public service. Many Muslims see the law as an attack on women who wear the niqab.

Muslims are not the only Canadians who take issue with how they’re treated by authorities. Many members of the black community believe police discriminate against them. In March 2016, Black Lives Matters members staged a protest outside police headquarters in Toronto, spurred to action by police shootings of black men in two separate incidents. One victim was shot while wielding a hammer and the other was killed while holding a BB gun.

Three months after that protest, the organization’s members brought Toronto’s annual Pride parade to a halt by staging a sit-in on the parade route. Organizers said they were protesting “anti-blackness” by parade organizers and police. Today, blacks are the target of more reported hate crimes in Canada than any group except for Jews.

“There’s an unacceptable gap between the promises we project to the world [as a country] and the realities African-Canadians get to experience every day,” says Canadian human rights lawyer Anthony Morgan. He has written about various attacks on black Canadians, including one in which several nooses were placed in the work area of an assembly plant worker in Windsor, Ontario.

A Hard-Right History in Canada

“There has always been a ripple of hard-right activity in Canada,” says social activist Farber, who is the former CEO of the Mosaic Institute, a Canadian nonprofit organization that promotes diversity. He points to Heritage Front, a Canadian white nationalist organization founded in 1989 and disbanded 15 years later, as an example. But he says that, for the first time in recent history, Canadians who hold such views feel emboldened to act on them and to share them with others. Farber attributes that development, in large part, to Donald Trump.

“When the president of the United Statesmakes common cause with Neo-Nazis, bigots and racists, it gives those people permission to climb out of garbage cans and pursue their hateful business,” he explains. “Unfortunately, it is no longer just street kids who are attracted to white nationalism. We now see articulate university students creating closed Facebook pages and organizing through social media.”

He notes that Bissonnette, the accused Quebec City mosque shooter, was a political science and anthropology major at a nearby university and had reportedly made online statements inspired by extreme right-wing nationalists. He “liked” Facebook pages of several politicians including Trump and far-right French politician Marine Le Pen.

Bissonnette denounced refugees in online posts, and he is not the only Canadian who has expressed antipathy toward newcomers. Last fall, ultranationalists staged a protest at the U.S.-Canada border.

Politicians have condemned attacks against minorities and some community groups have requested more funding and resources for police forces to combat hate crimes. But that won’t fix the problem, says Divinsky of the Mosaic Institute.

“We continue to look at differences as a problem, as something that needs to be managed, controlled, contained and silenced,” says Divinsky. “But we need to shift out mindset and see differences as our best asset. Our country is great place to live. For the most part, we live pretty damn well with our differences,” she adds. “But we must improve on that.”

via Canada Confronts Growing Tensions Between Its Ethnic Communities | Best Countries | US News

Federal study disputes claim diaspora communities breed extremists

The latest study showing that diaspora communities largely play an integrating role, similar to the Mosaic Institute study on imported conflicts (see Unpacking conflict: “We don’t import conflict. But we do import trauma.”):

Canada’s immigrant communities are not breeding grounds for terrorists, as some would argue, but should be enlisted to reduce any violent radicalization in their midst, says a newly released report.

The research, ordered by the Harper government in 2014, appears to repudiate Conservative measures that alienated Muslim communities in the months before last year’s election.

The authors examined four diaspora communities in Canada — Afghan, Somali, Syrian and Tamil — and found them to be willing allies for rooting out extremism among their often young and isolated members.

“More resilient diaspora communities represent the best line of defence against violent extremism,” says the March 30 report, obtained by CBC News under the Access to Information Act.

“Diasporas are not a threat, as some of the mainstream discourse on counterterrorism has often implied, but rather Canada’s most valued asset in the fight against terrorism.”

The authors found a mutual distrust between these communities and security agencies, driven partly by news media and academics who have “framed diaspora communities as partly complicit in terrorist activity, a source of threat for host countries like Canada.”

“It has fostered suspicion and even discrimination against certain diaspora groups.”

The research says security agencies such as the RCMP and CSIS need to build trust, especially among Muslim groups in Canada who can often alert police to potential terror activity.

“Dispelling Islamophobia and other forms of discrimination should be a centrepiece of any community engagement strategy surrounding anti-radicalization, as it has fuelled distrust of the state and wider Canadian society in Muslim diaspora communities.”

Helps restore balance

The $180,000 study for Public Safety Canada was carried out over a year by the Kitchener, Ont.-based Security Governance Group, a private consultant firm.

Former Canadian Security Intelligence Service analyst Phil Gurski, a specialist in homegrown radicalization, applauded the findings, saying they can help restore the balance between “hard security” — surveillance, arrests and charges — and “soft security,” or building trust within ethnic communities.

“We had the balance fairly good a couple of years ago, and then some unfortunate things happened towards the end of the Harper government that kind of maligned the trust we had built with communities and put us back a few steps,” Gurski said in an interview.

Among those setbacks was the government’s removal of Hussein Hamdani in April 2015 from the Cross Cultural Roundtable on National Security, after a Quebec blogger alleged Hamdani harboured terrorist sympathies.

The removal resulting from “baseless allegations” was “the biggest blow to the government’s relationship with the Muslim community,” said Gurski, who was Hamdani’s colleague and friend. “It had a chilling effect.”

The incident was followed by last summer’s niqab controversy, in which the Harper government pressed to have Muslim women remove their face covering at citizenship ceremonies, and the Oct. 2 announcement by Conservatives Kellie Leitch and Chris Alexander of a “barbaric cultural practices tip line,” allowing citizens to call RCMP anonymously with allegations about their neighbours.

Not too late

Gurski, who was a CSIS officer from 2001 to 2013 and then with Public Safety until retirement last year, said it’s not too late to rebuild trust.

“The communities are willing to play ball again, despite the disappointments they had toward the end of the Harper government,” he said.

Sara Thompson, who teaches criminology at Toronto’s Ryerson University, said the report’s findings parallel her own work with the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security and Society.

“Our findings are remarkably consistent: on the whole the communities under examination should not be viewed as ‘suspect’ but rather as important allies in efforts to prevent radicalization,” she said.

“Community-based tripwires are often activated via a concept known as ‘leakage’ — the tendency among radicalized individuals to broadcast their views and intentions to commit violent acts in advance, typically to friends, family, acquaintances and/or community members.”

Source: Federal study disputes claim diaspora communities breed extremists – Politics – CBC News

After Paris, we must tune out the hatred: Farber

Bernie Farber on the need for respectful and sensitive dialogue:

When it comes to these tragic and sensitive issues, there is a dire need for careful and meaningful “dialogue.” We need to create safe spaces for people from different communities and with perspectives to come together, mourn together, learn together, and act together. This cannot be superficial; it needs to be more than holding hands and playing nice. This is complex and long-term work. It does not require that we abandon our beliefs and values, but we do need to move outside of our respective comfort zones.

There will always be people who have no interest in peaceful dialogue, preferring instead to cower behind their computers waiting for the next opportunity to spew their caws of hatred. Dealing with these people can feel like playing a game of “whack-a-mole,” as they duck down and re-emerge from time to time.

The best use of our energies is to drown out these voices by creating platforms for people, communities and organizations who are interested in constructive rather than destructive dialogue. As we have seen, these positive voices are already out there. We just need more opportunities to hear them, and the discipline to tune out everyone else.

Source: After Paris, we must tune out the hatred | Toronto Star

A bad month for diversity-focused fear-mongers | Toronto Star

Good piece by Natalie Brender on the fear mongers, citing the defeat of the PQ and its values charter, the Mosaic Institute’s study on imported conflicts (Do new Canadians leave old conflicts behind?) and the Pew Research study on how increased diversity tends to correlate with lower levels of violence (Countries With Less Religious Diversity Have More Faith-Based Violence):

Fear-mongers keen on stirring up angst about the increasingly diverse nature of Canadian society have had a bad month of it, on the whole. That’s because three recent sets of evidence suggest that really there’s not that much to worry about in face of a blossoming patchwork of religious headgear being worn, languages being spoken and national soccer teams being cheered for across the land. Such reassurances are relatively undramatic to report on — but it’s worth taking some sedate pleasure in a trio of dogs that didn’t bark alarms of warning in the past month.

A bad month for diversity-focused fear-mongers | Toronto Star.

Do new Canadians leave old conflicts behind? – The Globe and Mail

Good report from Mosaic Institute on imported conflicts and some of the factors that increase and decrease the likelihood and impact:

Social inclusion is the single biggest factor in encouraging that change to happen; respondents spoke over and over about the importance of meeting, speaking with, living and working alongside people who are different from them in affecting that change of perspective. That is Canadian multiculturalism living up to its full potential.

Conversely, racism and exclusion can undermine that process of reframing conflict, and can impede new Canadians’ attachment to Canada. Sadly, all across the country, the darker our skin and the more we are visibly identifiable as a member of a racialized community, the more likely we are to experience racism and other forms of social exclusion at school, at work, and on the street.

Do new Canadians leave old conflicts behind? – The Globe and Mail.