The city of Ottawa and several partners, including the United Way and Ottawa Police, announced Friday that they have created a coalition to combat hate-based crime in the city.
The coalition, dubbed “United For All”, consists of over 30 organizations, and the group says they will coordinate local efforts in order to overcome hate and violence in the city.
According to Statistics Canada, hate crimes in Ontario have seen a rise of 67 per cent in 2017. In that same year, Ottawa was ranked among the top 10 cities with the highest reported hate crime in the country says the city.
Mayor Jim Watson, who represented the city at the coalition announcement on Friday, says hate has no place in Ottawa and the city is going to do all it can to fight the issue.
“Whether it’s Islamophobia or anti-Semitism or homophobia, it’s a problem,” said Watson. “We saw a 67 per cent increase in hate crimes in Ontario in 2017.”
“This coalition is trying to bring leaders together so that we can do our best to fight these kinds of hate crimes and can do a better job of really helping those people who don’t understand how hurtful it is to use foul language or show such hate towards another human being.”
As its first act, members of the coalition signed the United Nations Strong Cities Network Agreement. SCN’s main goal is to bring members of a municipality together to fight violent extremism. As members, the coalition will have access to the data, learning resources and training in order to formulate a plan to fight hate.
The mayor knows that the majority of Ottawans are caring and kind but he says even one hate crime is too many and the city needs to do all it can to stop the hate.
“When you see someone that spray paints a black Canadian’s garage door with the N-word, that is appalling,” said Watson, referencing an incident in the city earlier this year.
“And it’s not reflective of really the vast majority of well-intentioned, kind people that live in our city. So we have to isolate those incidents and we have to make sure that the police have the resources to track down these people and charge them as a hate crime.”
Leading the coalition are the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Police Service and the United Way East Ontario.