Asian Canadians have been the targets of racially motivated attacks near fishing spots in south-central Ontario, Ontario Human Rights Commissioner Barbara Hall said yesterday, as she announced an inquiry into such incidents.
Ms. Hall said the first step will be a toll-free line for victims to report alleged hate crimes.
“Asian Canadians are being targeted. The repeated use of racial slurs and negative terms make it likely that racial stereotyping or hate are at play in communities in Ontario,” Ms. Hall said, referring to a total of eight incidents in which fishermen were verbally or physically assaulted. Six of the incidents took place in the town of Georgina on the southern shore of Lake Simcoe.
The commission is already working with the Ontario Provincial Police and its hate crime unit, York Regional Police and several community groups.
Susan Eng, who spoke on behalf of the Reference Group, a community action organization that will be working with the commission, said the inquiry will help to identify hate crimes.
One example of the extent of the problem, she said, was written on a bridge in Hastings County, just outside of Peterborough. The graffiti referred to “nips” and “fish thieves.”
“It was snapped on Oct. 25 after a reporter was coming back from a news conference where they had just finished saying: ‘Oh this doesn’t happen here,’ ” Ms. Eng said.
“Unless the person shouts a racial slur at you as they’re pushing you in the water, it’s difficult to prove it,” she said, adding the media and politicians have presented the attacks as “isolated incidents that can be explained by poaching – which is the most ludicrous thing I can think of as an excuse for racism.”
According to York Regional Police Chief Armand La Barge, “all the victims in these incidents were fishing legally” and “in no way, shape or form does it justify what’s been happening in Georgina.”
News of an inquiry was welcomed by one Georgina resident who asked not be named for fear of retaliation, and said that after he moved from Toronto he was surprised by the pockets of racism that he encountered.
“As a newcomer, it’s embarrassing, as far as I am concerned,” he said.
He said he knows the public area at Jackson’s Point where fishermen congregate and that, during the day, it is a pleasant sight as black, white and Asian children fish together with their parents looking on.
“But at night,” he said, “the local teenagers get in their pickups, and it’s Alabama North.”
…this post forwarded by Windsor Humanist, Alexander Hodgins, after a November 3, 2007 article by Erika Beauchesne and James Rusk in The Globe And Mail