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Fighting hate in YYC

Last Updated Jun 24, 2019 at 12:13 pm MDT

In a special ceremony Tuesday afternoon, Mount Royal University unveiled the city's first year-round rainbow crosswalk. (Tom Ross - 660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Members of Calgary’s Muslim, Jewish and LGBTQ communities are speaking out about hate crimes in Calgary and across the country.

It comes on the heels of a new poll that gauged Canadians view on hate and intolerance.

It found that 42 per cent of responders have faced discrimination based on sexual orientation, identity, religion or ethnicity.

READ MORE: Canadians generally tolerant toward their neighbours; ‘tribalism’ an issue: poll

While there could be many reasons for hate-motivated crimes in Canada, local Rabbi Shaul Osadchey said a lack of knowledge and understanding is a factor.

“We’re basing a lot of our misinformation, stereotypes, prejudices and so forth.”

LGBTQ activist Pam Rocker agrees and adds that many incidents of hate are often unreported.

“I think there’s a lack of trust with police, there’s a lack of trust with authority, and when you get into intersections with people of colour and with vulnerable populations, it’s often really hard, or maybe you have attempted to report it, but it hasn’t been taken seriously.”

The issue of hate is not only a Canadian problem as was evidenced in the attacks on churches in Sri Lanka and the shootings at mosques in New Zealand earlier this year.

Local Imam Syed Sohowardy says it’s a troubling stat when hate crimes infiltrate mosques, churches, synagogues and temples.

“These are definitely not only mental health concerns. I think it’s a concern for the whole society. If we are not safe in the most safest place on the planet, which is a place of worship, where can you feel safe.”

Rocker adds that even one incident of hate can affect those in the broader community.

“Even if you haven’t experienced it, how you walk through the world is different if you know that people like you, who look like you or have your identity are at risk.”

So how do we combat the issues of hate and intolerance in Calgary? There are certainly some solutions to look at.

“There is an antidote which is religious literacy. This will help people to stop quoting sacred literature from other religions that they’ve cherry-picked that purports certain things that their religion really doesn’t represent,” said Rabbi Osadchey. “Government has a very important role to play,” adds Sohowardy. “Unfortunately, in my opinion, the government is not doing as effectively as they should be doing. Through their own resources and channels, they should spread the message that we’re all Canadian; we’re all human beings.”