January 27th was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating the genocide of 6 million Jewish people, and many others.
And January 29th marks one year since the horrifying attack that killed six worshippers in a Quebec City mosque. It should be recognized as a National Day of Remembrance & Action on Islamophobia.
We are not immune to hate here in Canada, and we are not immune to hate here in Beaches-East York.
Arthur Potts, MPP, and I hosted an anti-racism town hall on Thursday, February 22nd at Grant AME Church (Woodbine and Gerrard).
Many important questions were answered by Iqra and Minister Coteau, from carding practices, to inter-cultural / inter-faith engagement, to updating school curriculum to address racism, to continued work towards reconciliation. They were both engaging and thoughtful, with poise and patience.
And Lisa Kinsella spoke about her organization’s important work to fight against a racist newsletter in our neighbourhood.
The vast majority of people in attendance were respectful and wanted a constructive conversation. And we did get a good amount of that.
But, we were also confronted with a series of interruptions by racists, and had to ask some people to leave because of their repeated and unacceptable conduct. To see such hate so close was jarring, upsetting, and certainly made my blood boil. I can’t imagine experiencing such hate as a minority.
Of course, Minister Coteau did an amazing job of engaging the racists and putting them in their place. And Iqra greeted their hate with kindness and a warm smile. It was as heartening to watch their responses as it was depressing to watch the racist questions and attacks.
While many people from different backgrounds thanked us for hosting the conversation, I will be thinking a lot about how we can improve any future conversation / consultation on this topic to limit the hostility and racism we witnessed tonight.
In Iqra’s words: “Just goes to show how much work we have to do on this.”