Another racist graffiti incident in Calgary raises concerns among anti-hate experts

The Calgary Police Service headquarters seen on Thursday, April 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Another building in northeast Calgary has been vandalized with racist graffiti, an incident that might be indicative of a rising trend in hate crimes, experts say.

On Wednesday, a Global News viewer sent in a photo of a swastika spray-painted on the front door of Calgary Buddhist Temple, located at 658 1 Ave. N.E. The photo also showed some letters missing from the temple’s signage out front.

Robert Gubenco, the temple’s resident minister, said the Calgary Police Service notified the temple about the incident at approximately 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

A CPS spokesperson confirmed to Global News the hate crimes unit is investigating. No further details were provided.

Read more: Man given 8 months in jail for racist graffiti on Vancouver Chinese Cultural Centre

Gubenco called the incident “quite unfortunate” and said the temple is looking into repairing the damage.

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“We’re just staying calm and doing the best we can and trying to work with and help out the community that we live in,” said Gubenco.

The incident comes after the words “Kill all P—ies” and “F— the Indians” were found spray-painted on the side of a residential building in Bridgeland on Tuesday morning. The graffiti has since been covered with paint, and CPS is investigating the incident after it was reported on social media.

Read more: Police investigating racist graffiti in northeast Calgary

Anti-hate experts say the incidents in Calgary are part of a rising trend in hate crimes and incidents across the country.

According to a Statistics Canada report, there was a 37 per cent rise in police-reported hate crimes in 2020 compared to 2019. Alberta, B.C. and Ontario reported the largest increases in hate incidents that year.

“It really just comes down to cultural norms that are accepted in this province. We’ve seen Alberta as a hot spot for hate activity, and it’s been a hot spot for hate activity for a long time. This is really just reflective of that, unfortunately,” said Elizabeth Simons, deputy director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.

Read more: Charges laid after alleged attack on Muslim woman near Edmonton mosque: police

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Simons said an increasing number of young men and boys are being groomed and recruited into hate groups in Alberta. A common tactic white nationalists use to recruit them is to introduce ideas as jokes that get increasingly extreme, which is why platforms like TikTok are rife with hate propaganda, she said.

But it’s not just high school or university students who are being targeted. Simons said recruits can be as young as nine years old.

“If your kid is on Roblox or Minecraft or any website that is geared to 13-year-olds, they’re going to encounter this kind of material,” she said. “There’s so much activity on platforms such as TikTok, and kids may not have the ability to parse what it is that they’re seeing.”

Read more: Anti-Asian racism still experienced within Canada, poll shows

When asked if the national anti-mandate protests are fueling hate crimes in Calgary, Simons said she isn’t sure if the protest is causing a spike in hate incidents.

The Canadian Anti-hate Network previously alleged those with white nationalist and Islamophobic views don’t just represent the fringes of the movement but are also among the organizers.

Swastikas and Confederate flags were also flown at a trucker convoy in Ottawa over recent days.

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Simons said the convoy is part of a bigger problem in Canada.

“I think the convoy, really, is more indicative of perhaps the fact that this increase is happening in general. I think that we’re seeing the convoy is kind of like an evolution of where all of this is heading. It’s certainly contributing to the culture,” she said.

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