New campaign targets racism, discrimination and hate in Mississauga

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Published February 6, 2024 at 5:51 pm

Mississauga campaign against racism, discrimination and hate 2024

Mississauga is looking to unleash a new weapon in the fight against racism, discrimination and hatred — education.

City councillors are expected to discuss a report from senior staff at Wednesday morning’s general committee meeting that calls for, among other measures, the development of a “comprehensive anti-racism, discrimination and hatred public awareness and education campaign.”

The report from Mississauga city manager and CAO Shari Lichterman, which provides an update on the work of Mississauga’s relatively new Combating Racism, Discrimination and Hatred Committee, notes the city has not previously “engaged in a public education and awareness campaign to address the sources and/or implications of hate, racism and discrimination in the community.”

The cities of Toronto and Hamilton and region of York, meanwhile, have taken the lead with such public campaigns in recent years, the report observed.

“Municipal governments, being closest to the people, have a role to play in investing in building ‘civic resilience’ of local communities,” Lichterman wrote in her report.

That includes, she added:

  • helping communities resist and recover from instances of hate, racism and discrimination
  • building public awareness about what constitutes hate, racism and discrimination and how it impacts certain communities
  • fostering pro-active partnerships (with law enforcement bodies, etc.) to meaningfully address any incidence of hate, racism or discrimination
  • using data to build municipal capacity to minimize risk factors and enhance ‘protective’ factors

While Mississauga “remains a peaceful community overall,” Lichterman observed, a public awareness and education campaign could significantly contribute to things staying that way.

“Mississauga is home to a globally diverse multicultural community. According to 2021 census data, approximately 60 per cent of the city’s population identify as visible minority and 53 per cent as immigrants,” the report stated. “This means that global is local in Mississauga, and events occurring around the world have deep resonance with many local residents. At times, this can lead to rising tensions and conflicts amongst certain groups and even lead to acts of racism and hate.”

There were 123 hate-related crimes reported in 2022

Staff’s recommendation that the city develop a public awareness and education campaign sprung from councillors’ direction last fall that it prepare a report on how best to address the rise of Hinduphobia in Mississauga.

From that, the idea for a campaign that would cast a wider net to also include others who are similarly targeted was born.

“Unlike antisemitism and anti-Muslim hate, Hinduphobia is a relatively new and emerging phenomenon and manifests itself in a dislike or prejudice leading to acts of vandalism/negative propaganda against people identifying as Hindu. This report provides recommendations to address all forms of hate and discrimination in our community, including Hinduphobia,” the report to be presented to councillors reads.

According to data compiled by Peel Regional Police, there were 123 hate-motivated crimes reported in Mississauga and Brampton in 2022, of which 30 per cent resulted in charges being laid.

“Incidents of hate crime rose through 2022 and the trend appears to have continued through 2023,” the report from Mississauga’s city manager noted, adding complete 2023 hate crime data from police will be released later this year.

The Combating Racism, Discrimination and Hatred Committee was formed in late 2022 to replace the city’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Committee. Its mandate is to gather feedback, input and advice from committee members and the public about how best to combat racism, hate and
discrimination both within the corporation of the City of Mississauga and across Canada’s seventh-largest city.

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