Many people who have been born and raised in Canada seem to take it for granted that our country is relatively safe and free from extremist racism and bigotry.
But we can see in recent months and years a strengthening of bigotry most easily seen manifested as a blanket hatred toward Muslim populations in general, or light-brown skinned people who are mistaken as Muslim. We have seen in the news reports of Muslim women in communities in Ontario and BC being pushed down to the ground and physically abused. Even one or two of these women have been pregnant!
Also, closer to home, there is a Lebanese family who was recently delivered a hate note in a plastic bag with a rock, urging them with profanity to go home to their own country and telling them they don’t belong.
Adding to this racial and religious bigotry, we still have issues regarding acceptance for our gay, lesbian, and trans-gender community members. We have come a long way in this regard since I was a kid in the 70’s, but we cannot afford to become complacent.
Apathy toward bigotry and racism allows it to fester and grow stronger.
We need to develop a collaborative plan to help carry on with educational programs to help young people avoid falling prey to bigoted thinking.
We need people to understand that skin color or country of origin is not a determining factor for the value of any member of our community.
Now, much more so than 10 or 20 years ago, we need people to understand that Muslims, just like members of any demographic, are people first! By and far the majority of Muslims are peace loving humans who want to take care of their families just like people who adhere to any of the world’s major religions.
We need to remember that extremists exist in ANY demographic, and radicalized violence is not limited to members of any one religion or race. Let us not forget that it was not long ago in North American history that extremist Christians grouped together under white hoods and perpetuated countless lynchings and violent acts towards African Americans. Thankfully, Canada escaped the worst of the effects of that racism, but racism towards black skinned community members has been pervasive in the past, and still lingers on with its after effects today.
I have a vision, and we have an opportunity in the HRM to become recognized as a truly progressive and tolerant society by recognizing all humans as having equal value, no matter what wave of immigration brought them to this fine land!
We will not achieve this goal without effort and courageous leadership!
It is better to work sooner rather than later to combat racism and bigotry, for the longer we are complacent and apathetic toward this issue, the stronger the troubles will manifest in days, months, and years to come.
Respect and equality starts now!
I have the courage to move ahead hand in hand with all of the different peoples in our communities.
Hand in hand for respect! Hand in hand to make a statement of solidarity for people of all colours, all faiths, and all demographics.