Opinion: Discrimination still exists in diversity

Not more than a year after the tragic mosque shooting that took place in Quebec, this past week on Jan. 30, the Jami Omar Mosque in Ottawa was plastered with racist posters. This news should shock citizens  because to think that someone could possess such a strong hatred towards a minority group is unfathomable, but I am far from surprised.

What was supposed to be a time to solemnly mourn, remember and mark the first anniversary of the Quebec shooting that killed six worshippers, while also injuring 19, derailed into yet another anniversary of an unfortunate event to be marked next year.

Events such as the vandalism of a mosque have just become another blurry page to flip past in the paper, evolving into a norm of society. While people continue to express their hatred towards targeted groups, citizens feel a pang of sadness for a moment, then it disappears until the next event.

The harsh reality is that Canada’s image of a perfect land, where a wide range of people live in harmony without conflict is just that—an image that has been constructed and maintained over the years.

We do not do enough to demolish racism simply because our citizens are blind to the fact that it occurs in a country known for its apparent diversity. While it is acknowledged, misfortunes such as the damage caused to the Ottawa mosque continue to occur as people continue to be blind to the reality of racism in Canada as soon as the issues are forgotten.

Often, the phrase “I see no colour” is used to prove one is not racist. But this is quite hypocritical, because if one does not see colour that implies that everyone looks the exact same. Instead of resorting to this line that may seem as if it is accepting, we should look to embrace colour and embrace our differences. Once people start to accept that it is okay to acknowledge differences, it will bring forward a new realm of acceptance.

In an article in the Globe and Mail, the author speaks about how the Quebec mosque shooting was the first attack on a place of worship in Canada. While a tragic event, it is a shocking reminder to citizens across the nation that despite our pride in being a multicultural society, Canadians of colour are far from being free of discrimination and the target of hate crimes.

To urge Canadian citizens to speak out against racism, we must first acknowledge it exists. And to do this, we need to create awareness of hate crimes and other forms of discrimination that are intolerable. We must not move past the issue of racism without seeking answers on what is to be done about it.

Islamophobia is rising, according to a survey released by Angus Reid last fall, showing that almost half of Canadians view Muslims in Canada as “damaging,” which is quite disturbing to myself as I identify as a proud Canadian who also happens to be Muslim.

For action to actually occur, we need to be diligent and make it known that we will not settle for anything less. The National Council of Canadian Muslims, with the support of over 70 Canadian Muslim associations and the United Church of Canada, are now urging the federal government to designate Jan. 29 as a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia.

To honour those who were killed in the Quebec shooting, and now also to reflect on the damage done to the Muslims of Ottawa, designating a day to them is necessary to acknowledge the hurt that was caused.

It is our duty as citizens seeking inclusivity to support them.

Racism in Canada is still a problem, and it will only grow if we continue to turn our heads when it approaches us.

Photo by Meagan Casalino