January 29 marks six years since a lone gunman stormed the Quebec Cultural Islamic Centre, killing six Canadian Muslim men in cold blood.
It was the first such massacre to take place at a house of worship on Canadian soil.
When the rampage was over, Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Azzedine Soufiane, and Aboubaker Thabti were dead, and many others were injured.
Sadly, in the six years that have passed, hate crimes targeting Muslim communities across Canada continue to rise, according to Statistics Canada.
Most recently, police-reported hate crimes data for 2021 show an increase of 71 percent from the previous year. Acts of hate include vandalism, harassment, threats and violence.
In Quebec, various religious minority communities say they continue to feel unsafe since the passage of Bill 21. The legislation curtails the right to wear religious clothing in certain professions. This past October, for instance, women wearing headscarves were targeted in three separate attacks in Montreal over the span of just six days.
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) supports community calls for the federal government to establish a National Support Fund for Victims of Hate-Motivated Crimes. The CRRF conducted its own research this past summer, culminating in a published report titled, “Reimagining a path to support all Canadians: A review of services for victims of hate in Canada” that found a need for greater investments in victim support.
The study found that many victims have nowhere to turn for help and that major gaps and inconsistencies exist in the services available. The CRRF recommended the federal government invest $44 million to create a national fund for organizations that support victims of hate and a direct fund for survivors of hate crimes.
These efforts complement the CRRF’s work to support the creation of national standards for police services through its National Task Force on Hate Crimes, co-chaired with the RCMP.
For this upcoming National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action Against Islamophobia on January 29, the CRRF encourages Canadians to continue to denounce Islamophobia and all other forms of racism, hate and religious discrimination.
Together, we can take action to combat this harmful phenomenon while ensuring adequate support for its victims.