*WARNING: The following article contains language that may be disturbing. Discretion is advised.
Staff, students and politicians are speaking out against racism and xenophobia after a series of disturbing posters were spotted on the University of Alberta campus.
WATCH: MPs condemn ‘racist’ posters at University of Alberta
The posters feature a photo of a man with a beard and wearing a turban. The headline reads: “Fu*k Your Turban.” Below the photo, the caption reads: “If you’re so obsessed with your third-world culture, go the fu*k back to where you came from!” The hashtags “Non-Integrative” and “Invasion” are also used. The website ImmigrationWatchCanada.org is included at the bottom of the poster.
The group’s website says it wants Canada to “drastically reduce immigration” and believes “it should never be a social engineering experiment that is conducted on Canada’s mainstream population in order to make it a minority.”
When reached for comment, a spokesperson for Immigration Watch Canada denied any affiliation with the posters.
“These are not our posters,” he said. “We pride ourselves in bringing arguments to the table on the immigration issue that are supported by irrefutable facts, not vulgar posters.”
Once the university became aware of the posters, they were taken down.
“Earlier today, disturbing racist posters were discovered on our campus,” president and vice-chancellor David H. Turpin said in a statement. “As soon as they were brought to our attention, the posters were removed. Any new posters found will also be removed immediately. Unfortunately, similar posters have also been found on other Canadian university campuses. We are working with University of Alberta Protective Services to find the parties responsible. The University of Alberta is a space that is open to all people and we take pride in the strength of our diverse community.”
Photos of the posters were shared on social media, with people calling for education, inclusion and an end to racism, hate and ignorance.
Edmonton’s mayor even weighed in, calling for an end to racism and highlighting the Make It Awkward campaign.
“I noticed the poster on the Rutherford Library door this morning on my way to class,” a U of A student told Global News. “I took a photo before tearing it down and called campus security. They asked me where I found it, told me that some other reports had been made, and that they were responding by taking them down. The apparent lack of action being taken by the university lead me to make the Facebook post, linking the photo to an article on racism in academia. This is just one very blatant example of how racism is alive and well in Canadian universities – places we prefer to believe are safe havens from this kind of hatred.”
The World Sikh Organization (WSO) of Canada condemned “the racist posters … targeting Sikhs at the University of Alberta.”
The organization said there were approximately a dozen posters with the picture of a turbaned Sikh man put up across campus. It said similar posters appeared at York University in Toronto and in Brampton, Ont. in 2014.
“Similar posters appeared two years ago in Ontario and are a pathetic attempt at drawing the spotlight to deplorable views that have been rejected in Canada,” WSO President Mukhbir Singh said.
“Despite the claims on this poster, Sikhs are an integral part of the Canadian fabric and we are proud that many turbaned Sikhs serve Canada in the federal cabinet, armed forces and many other capacities.”
The WSO said it is in contact with the University of Alberta about the latest posters.
“We have been told that there is an ongoing investigation into the posters and they are being removed wherever they are found,” Tejinder Singh Sidhu, WSO vice-president for Alberta, said. “These racist posters don’t reflect the inclusiveness Canada is renown for and we know that the University of Alberta and the larger Edmonton community stand in solidarity with Sikh Canadians in saying that this type of messaging is not welcome.”
Federal Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who is Sikh, posted a Twitter message saying he’s proud to be a Canadian and proud of his turban.
The university said it does not know who put up the posters, but that it was done without approval.
The consequences of posting such material vary depending on whether the person is a student, staff member or not affiliated with the university in any way.
“If the individual is a student of the university, they would be subject to the Code of Student Behaviour. Consequences could range from a fine to probation to expulsion,” a spokesperson explained.
“If the individual is a faculty or staff member, they are subject to the university’s Discrimination, Harassment and Duty to Accommodate Policy, as well as rules outlined in their collective agreements. Edmonton Police Service will be involved in all of these cases, but if the individual is not affiliated with the university, the matter would be turned over directly to them.”
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