Thunder Bay Hate Crime Capital of Canada?

    Hate Divides a Community

    Hate Divides a CommunityTHUNDER BAY – OPINION- Statistics Canada has reported on hate crime in Canada. The good news is that overall, reported hate crimes are down 17% across the country. The bad news for Thunder Bay is that the city has more reported hate crimes than any other city in Canada on a per capita basis.

    Thunder Bay and Hamilton top the list. Thunder Bay has 20.9 hate crimes per 100,000 populations. The issue is one of both increased reporting, and increased awareness of hate crimes. It is also a sign that Thunder Bay still has a lot of hard work to do in effectively ending racism and hate in our community.

    The title of “Hate Crime Capital of Canada” is one that really hurts our city. It would be easy to blame the media, or blame Statistics Canada, but the real blame faces each of use when we see our reflections in the mirror.

    Having the title of hate crime capital, likely changes the meaning of the city’s slogan “Superior by Nature” twisting it from a positive to a questionable.

    The average per capita reported hate crimes in Canada was 3.3 per 100,000 populations. Thunder Bay is just under seven times the national average in police-reported hate crimes.

    Statistics Canada reports, “Canadian police services reported 1,167 hate crimes in 2013, or 3.3 hate crimes per 100,000 population. This represented a 17% drop from 2012, as 247 fewer hate crime incidents were reported to police. The annual decline was mainly attributable to a 30% decrease in non-violent hate crime incidents, primarily mischief.

    “In 2013, three primary motivations accounted for 95% of hate crimes. Hate crime motivated by hatred of race or ethnicity represented about half (585 or 51%) of all hate crime incidents, followed by religious hate crimes (326 or 28%) and crimes motivated by hatred of a sexual orientation (186 or 16%).

    “Between 2012 and 2013, there was a 17% decline in police-reported hate crimes motivated by race or ethnicity, with 119 fewer incidents reported. The decline was greatest for hate crimes targeting Arab and West Asian (-16 incidents) and Black populations (-40 incidents). Meanwhile, there was an increase in reported hate crimes targeting East and Southeast Asian populations (+11 incidents) as well as White populations (+9 incidents).

    “There were 93 fewer religion-motivated hate crime incidents reported in 2013 compared with 2012, down 22%. The decrease occurred for hate crimes targeting every religious group except Muslim populations (+20 incidents).

    “There were 186 police-reported hate crime incidents in 2013 that were motivated by sexual orientation, one more than a year earlier.”

    Dealing with the issue on a local basis falls to first and foremost the citizens of Thunder Bay. Generating a lower tolerance for racism is a key first step. The Crime Prevention Council is working hard and started to show noticeable change in crime in our city.

    The Anti-Racism Committee should likely be put under a microscope and looked at seriously in Thunder Bay. Establishing solid performance indicators that determine if the efforts of the committee are generating results is a key next step in the process.

    It is time for far more front-line effort most likely, and less behind the scenes discussions and status quo effort.

    Thunder Bay does not need to be wearing titles of dubious distinction like the city in Canada with the greatest number of hate crimes reported to police.

    Later this year, when the report comes out, Canada will officially be crowned as the murder capital of Canada for the year 2014.

    It won’t matter that so far (knock wood) in 2015 there has not been any homicides, the media coverage will hit the city hard as a dangerous place to live.

    That is not good for the city and it is not good for the economic future of the community.

    Putting some of the very positive energy in our city forward in a manner to change this is likely more likely to come from the citizens at large however than from government efforts.

    We all have a part to play.

    Let’s play!

    James Murray



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