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Quebec saw an increase in racially motivated hate crimes at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report by Statistics Canada.
Police recorded 86 more crimes motivated by race, ethnicity and religion in 2020 compared to the previous year, bringing the total to 571. And the province is not alone.
Hate crimes increased by 37% in Canada during the study period. In fact, the number of recorded crimes committed on racial or ethnic grounds has nearly doubled, with communities of color bearing the brunt of the attacks.
The highest number of race-based crimes in Canada were committed against Black people, with 318 recorded incidents, a 92% increase from the previous year.
East and Southeast Asian groups faced a staggering 301% increase in race-based attacks with 202 recorded crimes; while police recorded 44 hate crimes against Indigenous people (up 152%).
The federal agency notes that self-reported data shows a significantly higher rate of racial violence against First Nations communities. He attributes the lower number of official police reports to widespread distrust of authorities.
Quebec was just behind British Columbia (+198) and Ontario (+316) for the largest increase in hate crimes, but all but two provinces and territories reported an increase hate crimes.
“In some cases, these attacks reflect pandemic frustrations directed at people of color. But we also have the only government in Canada that doesn’t acknowledge the existence of systemic racism. That’s a problem,” said Joel DeBellefeuille of Red Coalitionthe only federally registered advocacy group in the nation fighting to eliminate systemic racism and discrimination.
“If Prime Minister François Legault and [Quebec’s Minister for the Fight Against Racism] Benoit Charette recognized the existence of systemic racism, it would show these people that racist attitudes are not acceptable,” he said.
DeBellefeuille said the new Statistics Canada report is undeniable evidence of systemic racism.
“It’s a good thing that these realities are coming to the surface so they can be resolved,” he said.
“We will continue to raise awareness. Soon, Mr. Legault will have no choice but to admit that [systemic racism] exist. It’s a bubble that’s about to burst.