A Canadian Muslim group has welcomed the decision of Alberta’s premier to offer grants to pay for security upgrades for Muslim organizations fearing rising hate crimes, calling for more effort to combat racism.
“Security grants are one piece of that puzzle and we welcome that,” Yasin Cetin, a spokesman for the Muslim Association of Canada in Alberta, told CTV News.
“But this should just be the beginning of the work to dismantle white supremacy, racism and Islamophobia. There needs to be more done to address the root cause of these feelings. It’s more a matter of taking an anti-racist lens and inclusive lens to addressing different policy pieces.”
Cetin, a community outreach and engagement adviser for the association, added that Alberta’s government needs to commit more resources to address hate instead of putting aside funding “that is a small drop in the bucket compared to what’s needed.”
Jason Kenney announced Friday a program of $500,000 offering $10,000 grants for each organization. He said these grants could save the lives of people who are targets of hatred because of who they are or how they worship.
Kenney called on Albertans to reach out to their Muslim neighbors, colleagues and friends to challenge hateful sentiments and white supremacy.
“The single most powerful weapon against hatred is simply relationships,” he said.
More Steps Needed
Welcoming the premier’s comments, Cetin, however, lamented that these grants would not protect Muslims facing daily threats in the street.
“How is that going to support a young Black woman wearing the hijab (while) riding the LRT or leaving the bus station?” he asked. “There needs to be tangible pieces of legislation.”
Cetin also pointed that changing pro-colonial public school curriculum was another example of how the government should challenge racism.
“Yes, get to know our neighbors, but an education system should recognize the contributions and the history of Canadians of all stripes and backgrounds, including the Muslim community, including the Indigenous community,” he said.
“How many more times do these attacks need to happen? How many more victims do we need to have? and how many more people need to die, need to be victimized before governments take action?
“We’ve had enough of the thoughts and prayers.”
The Alberta’s government announcement comes as Canada grapples with last week’s hate crime against a Muslim family in London, Ontario.
Four Muslims, two women aged 77 and 44, a 46-year-old man and a 15-year-old girl, were killed Sunday when Nathaniel Veltman, 20, used a black pick-up truck to jump a curb and strike them.
A nine-year-old boy was seriously injured and is recovering in hospital.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the killings a “terrorist attack” and vowed to clamp down on far-right groups and online hate.