The City of Toronto and OCASI - Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants launches an educational campaign addressing xenophobia & islamophobia



June 14, 2016



The City of Toronto and OCASI-the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants are launching a Toronto public education campaign to address xenophobia, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant sentiments.

The war in Syria has created a massive humanitarian crisis. Since November 2015 approximately 4,500 Syrian refugees have settled in Toronto. Many residents and community groups have been very supportive and welcoming to these new Torontonians and have provided monetary, material and social support.

The City Council approved the Refugee Resettlement Program in October 2015. As part of that program Council directed that a campaign be created to dispel and prevent rumours and stereotypes that undermine social cohesion and community-building between immigrant and Canadian-born populations, through education and awareness.

“We worked with OCASI to implement this campaign as we wanted this to really resonate with residents,” said Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina), Toronto's Newcomer Co-Advocate. “OCASI has an extensive history of working with refugees and understand the barriers they face to integration. We appreciate their insights.”

“OCASI has the experience and reach to implement an effective educational campaign,” said Debbie Douglas, Executive Director of OCASI. “It is important that Torontonians from all walks of life take responsibility for not only welcoming refugees but also examining assumptions and stereotypes they may hold about Muslims, racialized communities, refugees in general, and refugees from the Middle East and Africa in particular. We hope this campaign will start to shift some of people’s erroneous and harmful assumptions,” stressed Douglas.

“Racism hurts our communities in so many ways,” says Amira Elghawaby, Communications Director at the National Council of Canadian Muslims, a partner on the public awareness campaign. “It’s uplifting to see several key national and provincial organizations come together to encourage Torontonians to unite against discrimination. We all have a responsibility to speak out against all forms of racism, including Islamophobia. We must work together to ensure our cities are welcoming for all.”

“Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world ─ this diversity contributes to our strength,” said Councillor Joe Mihevc (Ward 21 St. Paul's), Toronto's Newcomer Co- Advocate. “Our goal with this campaign is to get people thinking, talking and challenging the assumptions they may be making about others, not just new Torontonians.”

The campaign, created in coordination with social impact agency Public Inc., includes out of home advertising as well as a digital and social media strategy aimed at sparking conversation.

The overarching long-term goal is to create a Toronto that says “No” to all forms of discrimination and racism.

To find out more about the campaign, go to

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Debbie Douglas, Executive Director, OCASI-Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants.
Cell: 416-729-9805, Email:

Chris Brillinger, Executive Director, Social Development, Finance & Administration, City of Toronto. Tel: 416-392-5207,