Anti-Hate Toolkit Launched for Canadian Schools
Anti-Hate Toolkit Launched for Canadian Schools
By Michelle Chermaine Ramos
The Philippine Reporter
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network launched their new toolkit to support educators, community organizations and parents to help identify, confront, and prevent hate in Canadian schools. It is an independent nonprofit organization composed of Canada’s leading researchers and experts on hate movements.
In a virtual press conference on June 29, 2022, Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion expressed his support for the initiative, which will be delivered through workshops in schools across the country. He reported that through the anti-racism program, the government has invested $35 million to fund 175 anti-racism programs nationwide, including this toolkit which aims to remove systemic barriers for indigenous and other racialized communities and religious minorities.
Paul Chiang, MP of Markham Unionville and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion, was a police officer for 28 years. His experience in the diversity hate crime office for 15 years has made him well-aware of this issue. “Our government believes that everyone, no matter who they are, or where they live in this country, deserves a fair chance at success,” he said. “I’m so upset that the hate crime is on a rise in Canadian society. So I’m hoping that with this toolkit, we will be able to help our victims out there and get them to the road where they need to be.”
Minister Hussen shared his concerns about the first time he sent his children to school hoping that they would be in a healthy, safe, and nurturing environment. “I always like to say that in Canada, diversity is a factor, but inclusion is a choice. Inclusion is a choice that we must make, and inclusion is something that we must fight for every single day. You know, this includes what we do teach,” he said.
How the Internet and the evolution of language has contributed to hate crimes
One of the major concerns especially with the recent shift to online learning, is that most youth have unsupervised access to the Internet where they can be exposed to hate online or recruitment by hate groups. According to Maryam Faisal, Project Manager of the anti-hate initiative at the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA), “Canadian youth are also more likely to experience hate online than other groups of people.”
The internet has also given rise to the evolution of language creating derogatory racist and sexist terms. Faisal explains, “Just as an example, we know that youth are using terms like ‘incel’ and creating memes with overly sexist connotations. And these terms have become a part of popular culture, without always leaving room to discuss the gravity of the term and how sinister the ideology behind it is.”
The danger is hate ideologies don’t just remain ideologies and can escalate to heinous crimes like the murder of the Afzaal family in London last year. “We’re seeing with the rise of hate crimes against Asian Canadians. We’re seeing the rise of systemic and institutional Islamophobia across the globe, which will have repercussions for Muslims in Canada as well,” Faisal added.
The “incel” subculture
According to Meriam-Webster’s dictionary, the term “incel” is short for “involuntary celibate”. It came from an online Reddit group where tens of thousands of users, mostly young men who regard themselves as unable to attract women, express extreme resentment and hostility towards women for denying them sex and men who are sexually active (labelled “Chads”). Many members of this online subculture commiserate about their lack of sexual activity and fantasize about violence.
Alek Minassian, a self-identified “incel”, told investigators that he drew inspiration from the group to execute the van attack that killed 10 people in Toronto in 2018. In February 2020, a 17-year old Toronto teenager became the first Canadian charged with carrying out an “incel”-inspired attack after he fatally stabbed a 24-year old woman at an erotic massage parlour.
The alarming Anti-Black language and Swastikas found in schools and parks
Nigel Bariffe, a teacher and board member of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network shared his concerns recounting a recent incident when a fellow black teacher returned from her lunchbreak and found the N word along with a swastika etched into a locker in her classroom. Bariffe and a friend also found a swastika painted on a park bench. “As a schoolteacher, I’m telling you, and as a parent, we know that children are born innocent. They aren’t born with hate. Hate is learned,” he said. “If it’s really important for us to address hate, make sure that we also have the resources that are going to be necessary.”
The importance of early intervention with youth
Bernie Farber, Chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network is a descendant of Holocaust survivors and expressed alarm over the growing racism in Canadian schools including the recent beating of a black Edmonton eight-grader by seven children shouting racial slurs and the children who marched across a playground in North Bay, Ontario, throwing Sieg Heils and shouting “Heil Hitler.”
Farber also pointed out how the last two mass shootings in the United States were perpetrated not by older adults, but by teenagers. On May 14, 2022, 18-year-old gunman Payton S. Gendron committed a racially motivated mass shooting in a Buffalo supermarket. Of the 13 people shot, 10 who were killed were Black. In Texas on May 24, 2022, 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school were murdered by Salvador Ramos, an 18-year-old high school student. Alexandre Bissonnette was 27 when he opened fire in a Quebec mosque in 2017.
“We know that if one of them is reached either through some of these very dastardly and racist websites–only one–that’s really all it takes, just one to be moved towards violence. Sadly, I mean back in my day, we were worried about what I call hateful words and hateful symbols when we saw swastikas on synagogues, and we saw horrible nasty words virtually all the time. But the fact of the matter is these words have now turned to hateful actions, assaults and even murder and they’re coming from someplace,” said Farber.
Anyone can access the free Anti-Hate toolkit and resources here: https://www.antihate.school/
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