Canada’s unions mark January 29 with a call to action

January 29, 2024

Canada’s unions demand immediate action from the federal government to put an end to the alarming rise of hate and Islamophobia in Canada. The government must release its National Action Plan on Combatting Hate, as well as its long-promised and overdue online harms legislation without further delay, to combat the spread of fascism and
far-right extremism contributing to the rapid growth of anti-Muslim hate groups and online dissemination of Islamophobia.

January 29 is the National Day of Remembrance for the Quebec City Mosque attack in 2017. This tragic event took the lives of innocent worshippers and shook the nation.

“The 2017 attack on the Quebec City Mosque left deep scars on us all. As a society, we can’t keep telling ourselves that these attacks won’t happen here at home, because we’ve seen that they do,” said Bea Bruske, President of the CLC. “In fact, over the past several years we’ve seen a sharp rise in hate-motivated incidents here in Canada. We must confront the root causes of this rising tide of hate, whether it’s xenophobia, racism, or religious intolerance. It’s up to us to take a stand against hate and bigotry, and to call it out anytime we see it, whether it’s in person or online.”

The rise of hate in Canada is an alarming trend that demands urgent attention and collective action. There has been a disturbing increase in hate crimes in recent years, including those targeting religious, racial, and ethnic minorities. The National Council of Canadian Muslims has also reported a sharp rise in Islamophobic incidents since October 7, 2023 as a result of the escalating violence in Palestine and Israel. This surge in hateful incidents underscores the need for a comprehensive and unwavering commitment to combat all forms of hate and discrimination.

“We honour the lives lost on January 29, 2017, and since, by standing united against discrimination and bigotry within our ranks. This means actively addressing incidents of Islamophobia, whether subtle or overt, as well as the structures that allow it to persist, and working towards creating union spaces where every member is and feels valued and protected,” said Larry Rousseau, Executive Vice-President of the CLC. “By fostering a culture of respect and solidarity, unions can contribute significantly to the dismantling of prejudiced attitudes and practices.”

In workplaces, it is crucial to cultivate an environment that values and embraces differences. This includes providing education and awareness to combat stereotypes and misconceptions about Islam and Muslims. It means promoting inclusivity and eliminating barriers in hiring practices, and ensuring that individuals of all backgrounds have equal opportunities for advancement and success in the workplace.

In order to properly reflect the compounding inequities experienced by specific communities, the federal government must update the Employment Equity Act. The collection and analysis of disaggregated data is critical to applying an intersectional lens to the updated Act.

The government must also take action on the thirty recommendations submitted by the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in their report Taking Action Against Systemic Racism and Religious Discrimination Including Islamophobia.

“It’s easier to stand together against hate, than to stand alone. We call upon all Canadians to actively engage in dismantling hate, and to promote understanding, empathy, and solidarity. Working together, we can build a Canada where every individual, regardless of their background, can live free from the fear of discrimination and violence,” said Bruske.

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