The first time Muslims were killed inside a mosque in North America happened on January 29, 2017 and it happened in Canada.
“Many of us remember where we were when we heard the news and we knew then that much more needed to be done to make Canada a safer and more inclusive place,” said National President Jerry Dias.
Yet, while our union recognized the hate and Islamophobia of both this act and the society in which we live in, many others refused to. Last year, when a federal MP Iqra Khalid put forward a non-binding motion calling on the Government of Canada to do no more than condemn Islamophobia, it inspired widespread criticism and more hate.
But one year later small change is evident by actions at a municipal level. Councillor Neethan Shan, one of three racialized representatives on Toronto City Council, put forward a motion to declare January 29 an annual Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia. The motion which passed on Thursday, February 1, 2018 also calls on City Council to request that Ontario and the federal government do the same.
Unifor Ontario Regional Director, Naureen Rizvi wrote a letter of support for the motion and stated: “It is a fundamental right to be able to gather to worship, to advocate for equity, to be respected in our jobs and to earn a decent and fair wage. Anything short of this is an affront to our values as a progressive movement.”
Rizvi also reminded the Council that it has an important role in establishing and governing the social justice and economic policies that reflect the diversity of the city. “Racism, bigotry and exclusion in all its forms should not be tolerated and a strong endorsement from the City of Toronto against these injustices is strongly supported by our union,” wrote Rizvi.
At a time when hate crimes against Muslims have been growing at a distressing rate and when requests to call this what it is - Islamophobia - are met with so much resistance, Councillor Shan’s successful motion is a necessary step forward.
Unifor remains committed to working vigilantly against Islamophobia and all hate-based violence in the workplace and the community.