OCASI Statement: Speak out against racism and hate in Canada



Toronto / October 19, 2023

As we witness a long-standing humanitarian crisis escalate in Palestine and Israel, we are deeply troubled by the impact on people here in Canada as well – many who have themselves fled violence in the region and other parts of the world.

We mourn with all those who have lost loved ones in Gaza and Israel in recent attacks. We condemn all acts of violence that have harmed and continue to harm civilians in the region. We are especially concerned about the safety of those who are most vulnerable and who are at the greatest risk, particularly children, women, the elderly and people with disabilities, and people who are sick and injured.

We add our voice to those calling for an immediate ceasefire in the region, immediate relief, safety, and aid for Palestinians trapped in Gaza, and immediate safe release of all hostages.

Here in Canada, we are alarmed by the rise in anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian hate and racism, the rise in anti-Semitism, and rise in threats and harassment faced by those who are visibly Muslim - particularly Muslim women. We are deeply concerned by shrinking spaces for public discourse and dialogue at this difficult time, and the silencing of people and organizations who express solidarity with Palestinians. We are troubled by the clear bias in media coverage that serves to demonize or discredit one set of experiences and opinions, and can make worse the threats faced by people at risk of hate and racism.

Canada has worldwide respect for welcoming refugees and migrants from anywhere in the world, to settle here to build new lives and live together in peace. Many who came here have also fled repressive regimes that denied their right to express an opinion or gather in peaceful demonstration. But it seems now that even these basic rights in Canada are threatened for some groups.

Violence, terror, coercion and repression must never be an option in Canada or anywhere in the world.

We urge the Government of Canada and all other orders of government to speak out against all forms of hate and racism and support all residents equitably including their right to freedom of expression and peaceful protest.