*Content Warning*: Islamophobia, violence
While Canada has popularly celebrated being a diverse and multicultural country, the racism and genocide that this country is built on, is seen in the ways Black, Indigenous and people of colour are treated today.
Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, their daughter Yumna Afzaal, 15, and Salman's mother, Talat Afzaal, 74, were four out of the five announced deceased, with a 9-year-old boy surviving the accident but suffering from injuries.
Shortly after, video surveillance revealed Veltman was seen at a nearby mall, with possible swastika’s on his clothing, according to an eye witness nearby.
Since this horrendous crime, Veltman has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder, and one count of attempted murder and was seen in court on Thursday. He will also face terrorism charges.
While there has been some progress made to address anti-Muslim hate crimes in our country, such as passing the M-103 a motion to address racism and discrimination, many community advocates have made a call for action regarding anti-Muslim hate crimes, including the National Council for Canadian Muslims (NCCM) who have called for all levels of government to pass a National Action Summit on Islamophobia.
While the motion and these conversations are a start, we cannot ignore the fact that many Conservative politicians voted against the motion. In addition, with Quebec’s “secular” Bill 21, a ban on religious symbols in public professions, it has deeply impacted Muslim women.
As conversations around Islamophobia are happening once again on a national level, many are pointing out how Bill 21 is an example of discrimination that fuels this kind of racist logic.
However, with Bill 21 being criticized once again, Quebec Premier François Legault has expressed his ‘anger’ for comparing Bill 21 and the recent attack in London, Ontario, stating that “Bill 21 has nothing, nothing at all with what happened in London, Ont.,” and further claimed that journalists were to blame for targeting Quebecers for being racist by the media.
While other leaders across the country have expressed their sincerest gratitude by ‘sending prayers’ and ‘sincerest apologies’ towards racialized communities for hate crimes, this is not the response these communities need when there is little to no action taken to dismantle white supremacy in Canada.
According to the NCCM, more than 300 incidents of hate crimes against Muslims in Canada were reported between 2015 to 2019.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has since expressed his concerns with the phrase “This is not our Canada,” with many news outlets highlighting the same idea -- that Canada isn’t a racist country. But as Singh points out, if something as innocent as a walk can turn fatal solely because of one’s race, there is a deeper problem.
Rumneek Johal, Host and Producer of Decomplicated News and editor of 5X Press also called out The National Post for calling Canada a country that is “one of the most tolerant places on earth” just days after the story of the attack became public.
Racism, discrimination, oppression are present in Canada, and to act like it isn’t further perpetuates violence against marginalized communities.
The same Canada that welcomes immigrants, spreads the message of multiculturalism and tries to act like a “tolerant” country for racialized people is the same Canada that does not meaningfully address the many issues marginalized communities face.
This isn’t anything new. This country has always been home to the same injustices many other countries face as well. And it’s time we put an end to this.
This is our Canada.