Two Saskatoon organizations are steadfast in their mission to support diverse communities after their buildings were vandalized this week.
The posters referenced the gradual “replacement of European Canadians” — rhetoric that Open Door Society CEO Ali Abukar described as threatening.
“This is a threat to our diversity in the community, our inclusiveness, and the vibrancy of Saskatoon,” Abukar told Global News.
“This is a misrepresentation of how immigration works in Canada and it creates that sense of othering to marginalized and racialized groups. And it creates an us-versus-them kind of mentality in the community, which is a big concern for us.”
Both of the society’s downtown locations were hit.
Security cameras captured images of the vandal, Abukar said, but the suspect was wearing a mask. The footage was shared with police, who confirmed an investigation is underway, but would not comment on the motives of the suspect.
Abukar said people have the right to live peacefully in their community.
“That is threatened now, so we’re quite concerned if this is not dealt with and if we don’t all speak up against it, that it may create more problems for our safety and our well-being as a community,” he said.
“This messaging is quite hurtful, especially to newcomer clients who are not white — who are not Europeans.”
He urged community members not to tolerate discrimination — something OUTSaskatoon education manager Amanda Guthrie noted is alive and well in Saskatoon.
“These values and belief systems do exist within our communities, but it’s a shock when your own organization is targeted,” she said.
“We will not allow this to persist within our community. And so the louder we can be with kindness and love and affirmation of diversity and minorities within our community, the better off we’re all going to be.”
OUTSaskatoon staff won’t be deterred from supporting diverse communities, she said.
“In no sort of way were we going to let this slow down our work or make us second guess the validity of our work,” Guthrie said.
“If anything, it made us more aware that our work is continuously needed in our community, and the same with Open Door.”