The Liberal government will begin to search for a special representative to combat Islamophobia in Canada, the minister for diversity announced on the first anniversary of an attack that killed a Muslim family while they were out for a walk in London, Ont.
Ahmed Hussen, the minister of diversity, inclusion and youth of Canada, said Monday that applications are now open for the special representative, who will advise the federal government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and offer recommendations.
“The special representative to combat Islamophobia will be the champion, the expert, the advocate and the adviser to the government on Islamophobia,” Hussen said.
The new role was a key recommendation made by the National Summit on Islamophobia that took place in July 2021 following the deaths of four members of the Afzaal family who were hit by a truck on June 6, 2021. Only one member of the family, a nine-year-old boy, survived the attack.
A 21-year-old man faces four counts of first-degree murder in the attack. The case has not yet gone to trial.
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Trudeau was present in the London, Ont., community on Sunday for a memorial marking the deaths.
“The lives of three generations of the Afzaal family were taken by a brutal, cowardly and brazen act of terrorist violence,” he said, noting that people should not ignore the reality that millions of Canadians are facing microaggression, discrimination and systemic racism every day.
Hussen said Monday that it was a “somber occasion” and that the new representative will “work tirelessly to combat Islamophobia.”
The Liberals’ 2022 budget included $1.2 million in funding for the role and Hussen said there will be a “transparent” process for selecting the representative.