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USW Denounces Religious Hate Crime in London, Ont., Calls for Action

Statement by USW National Director Ken Neumann

On June 6 in London, Ont., a driver deliberately mounted a curb in his vehicle, and drove into a Muslim family. It resulted in the deaths of the grandmother, father, mother and a daughter. The remaining member of the family, a nine-year-old boy, is recovering from injuries in hospital. The police are treating this incident as a religious hate crime.

The latest statistics from Canada’s federal Anti-Racism Secretariat point out that hate crimes against Muslims comprise 17% of all hate crimes in Canada. Considering that self-identified Muslims comprise 3.2% of Canada’s population, the number of hate crimes directed against Muslims is disproportionately high.

As Steelworkers, we express our grief and send condolences to the family of those who died, and best wishes for the young survivor. We also denounce this latest incident. We call on governments at all levels to strengthen laws related to race and religious hatred.

Along with groups such as the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), we call on the police to vigorously prosecute those responsible for such acts, be it spreading hate on social media, directing verbal harassment in public or violent physical actions. But we must do more than that.

As a union standing for social justice, we need to confront a difficult, yet simple fact. Stemming from our settler culture, hate crimes, whether race or religion-based, are a characteristic of our society’s historical and current failure to treat diverse communities in Canada with equality and respect.

I call on our union to condemn the actions of religious hatred in London, Ont., and to continue educating ourselves on our deep-seated prejudices as a whole society.

Beyond the Steelworkers union, I urge the same for all Canadians – condemnation of single acts of hatred, combined with education of the effects of our settler and colonialist culture. This will lead towards concrete action making our society truly inclusive.

Ken Neumann
USW National Director

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