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Progress of organizations' commitments

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The progress of the commitments is contained in a chart in Appendix C.

In reporting on the progress of each organization’s commitments, the Commission considered the following questions:

  1. Is the initiative completed? If it is a longer term initiative, is it in development?
  2. Has the organization dedicated time, resources and money to the commitment? Is there a plan and timeframe for completion in place?
  3. Does the commitment add to the overall goals of addressing the safety of Asian Canadian anglers and/or eliminating racism?
  4. Is the organization implementing the commitment while reflecting human rights principles and anti-racism principles?[3]

Most of the organizations that participated in the Inquiry have either implemented or begun implementing their commitments. Overall, organizations have made a positive start to establishing a safety net and a response to racist incidents; however, more work needs to be done to ensure that the momentum on these initiatives continues. Government has a broad mandate to address issues affecting public safety and the public interest. All government ministries have engaged with the Commission in response to the Inquiry, with some ministries showing considerable movement in addressing these issues, and some responding more slowly. One positive example is the Ministry of Natural Resources. Its message in the 2009 fishing regulations shows an increased commitment to acknowledging the existence of racial discrimination in recreational fishing, and sends a strong message to the public that it will not be tolerated. Other ministries can add to this progress by ensuring the timely completion of their commitments, and ensuring that anti-discrimination and anti-racism initiatives continue to be integrated into their ongoing work.

In addition, some organizations have begun to foster or consolidate partnerships around issues of anti-racism and/or hate activity. For example, greater links and ties have been made between the OPP and the YRP around reported incidents of hate activity and responses to the angler inquiry. Race relations committees and hate crimes committees in Peterborough and York region are working with police, government representatives (MAG and MNR) and educators on future initiatives.

The following are examples of some organizations’ comprehensive responses to the issue:

Example #1:

City of Kawartha Lakes

  • Community leaders made public statements condemning the assaults when they were brought to their attention in the fall of 2007.
  • The City has passed a motion to join the Coalition of Municipalities against Racism and Discrimination (“CMARD”), an international network aimed at helping municipalities to address racism within their communities. By resolving to join CMARD, this represents a commitment to longer-term anti-racism initiatives.
  • Has liaised with the OPP to increase presence in areas where people were assaulted.
  • Posted a strong message on the town website, identifying the angler incidents, indicating that racism and discrimination is not tolerated, and telling people about the City’s initiatives in response.
  • Investigated funding avenues for projects to engage at-risk youth
  • Will work with Chinese-language media to ensure the City of Kawartha Lakes is seen as a safe destination for outdoor activities for Asian Canadians.

Example #2:

Town of Georgina

  • Quickly responded to the incidents when they occurred by denouncing them publicly, and meeting with community leaders and educators.
  • Established the Diversity and Equity committee with representatives from racialized communities.
  • The City has also passed a motion to join the Coalition of Municipalities against Racism and Discrimination.
  • The committee which plans to create a protocol on how to address racist incidents when they occur.
  • Worked in conjunction with York Regional Police, OPP and MNR to host the “Safe Shores Fishing and Information Day.”

Example #3:

York Regional Police

  • Between April and June 2008, school safety officers talked about the assaults on Asian Canadian anglers in elementary and in two high schools.
  • YRP will continue giving presentations on this material.
  • Police provide media releases in multiple languages to improve accessibility.
  • When doing presentations with angler associations, the YRP highlights its multilingual hotline people can call.
  • Examples of the angler incidents were incorporated into the annual recertification hate crime training for all police officers.

Since the Inquiry, the YRP has engaged in additional initiatives, including:

  • YRP put together the Hate Crimes Community Working Group to serve in an advisory capacity to YRP. Representatives include members of the communities most vulnerable to hate: Jewish, Chinese, Muslim, LGBT, African Canadian and First Nations communities, and also includes an Assistant Crown Attorney.
  • YRP's Diversity and Cultural Resources Bureau has been restructured such that a hate crimes investigator will now be assigned to the unit. This will give the unit a capacity to investigate systemic hate crimes (like the angler incidents), in addition to monitoring them.
  • A poster, entitled "Fish Without Fear" was developed jointly with the OPP. The poster focused on fishing and hate crimes. It was posted in various regions.
  • The undercover operation, “Project Fisher” continued this year. There were no other incidents of physical or verbal harassment reported this year.
  • YRP have initiated the practice that whenever there is a suspected hate crime, community leaders are contacted to advise them of the incident.
  • In November 2008, YRP hosted a workshop for police on hate crimes. The community impact of the assaults on anglers was explored.
  • YRP is sitting as a member on the newly formed race relations committee in Newmarket.

The Ontario Provincial Police has also made some distinct contributions, including incorporating examples of the angler incidents into its hate crimes investigation training to all front-line officers. The Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board also quickly reacted to the Inquiry by arranging for sessions on hate crimes in schools prior to the end of the school year in 2008. The Peterborough Race Relations Committee, although not asked to provide commitments, demonstrated a high degree of responsiveness to this issue by holding press conferences and facilitating a community coalition.

All of these initiatives represent the beginning of a more coordinated response to hate activity and discrimination in and across communities.

Undertaking Anti-Racism Initiatives

The Commission applauds the many organizations that took immediate steps and established plans for action in response to a very tight time frame, particularly in response to longer-term or more systemic initiatives. Further Commission comments or recommendations about the status of the commitments are outlined in Appendix C.

The Commission’s last report, Fishing Without Fear, discussed the importance of naming racism. Because of the great stigma that is attached to allegations of racism, there is a tendency to deny its existence.[4] Similarly, with respect to implementing anti-racism initiatives on an organizational level, some organizations appeared to have difficulty maintaining a focus on anti-racism as part of their implementation plan. It is important that organizations focus on realistic, well-thought out anti-racist strategies that are well-resourced and can be evaluated and monitored to determine their impact.

Because of the widespread tendency to deny racism in society, without the organizational commitment and resources to see them through, even well-meaning anti-racism initiatives can fall off the agenda. In general, initiatives that are vaguely worded, half-implemented, under-resourced, without adequate representation or consultation with people from racialized communities, or focus only on the goal of “diversity” as opposed to anti-racism, may be unlikely to achieve the goal of addressing discrimination.[5]

The Commission is available to all organizations involved in the Inquiry to help them clarify their goals and projects to ensure that their commitments embody meaningful forward-looking initiatives that address the overall goals of eliminating racism and discrimination.

It is also worthwhile to note that the commitments recommended through the Inquiry were put forward to quickly respond to a series of serious incidents, and to help organizations start to address broader issues of racism within the public sphere. They do not provide a comprehensive provincial framework to address all hate activity. Instead, this is emphasized by the Hate Crimes Community Working Group in their 2006 report submitted to the provincial government.[6] The Commission encourages the provincial government to continue to implement fully the multiple recommendations from the Hate Crimes Community Working Group report to promote substantial change around hate crimes.

Another notable report released in 2008, the Review of the Roots of Youth Violence Report, by the Honourable Roy McMurtry and Dr. Alvin Curling, further reinforces Ontario’s need to address individual and institutional racism. Because of the alienating and self-esteem eroding nature of racism, the authors link it to other risk factors for youth violence, along with poverty, issues in the education system and other factors.

[3] An anti-racist organization is not one in which racism is absent. Rather, it takes a proactive stand against racism in all its forms. It is oppositional in nature and addresses racism at both the organizational and individual levels. Commitment in anti-racist organizations is based on an acknowledgement that racism exists, that it manifests itself in various forms at the individual, institutional and systemic levels, and that it is embedded in the mass culture of the dominant group. An anti-racist perspective begins by accepting that the perceptions of [racialized persons] are real and that there may be a multiplicity of realities in any one event. Carol Tator, Francis Henry & Winston Mattis, et al, The Colour of Democracy: Racism in Canadian Society. 2nd ed. (Toronto, ON: Nelson, 1998), at 378-379.
[4] Ontario Human Rights Commission, Policy and Guidelines on Racism and Racial Discrimination, (Toronto: Queen’s Printer, 2005) at s.2.2.1, also available online at
[5] Tator, et al. write that resistance to anti-racism initiatives takes many forms, among them: reluctance to create an anti-racist vision, lack of commitment, inadequate policies, inadequate training, lack of representation, ineffective monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, tokenism, insufficient resources, lack of organizational accountability, and deceptive dominant discourses, supra note 3, at 356. For example, with respect to training initiatives, as is noted in the Commission’s Policy and Guidelines on Racism and Racial Discrimination, training (or other initiatives) that emphasise “cultural sensitivity”, “race awareness” or “tolerance” does not lead to meaningful change because they fail to address the dynamics of racism and attributes racial discrimination to cultural misunderstandings, supra note 4 at s.7.3.1.
[6] Hate Crimes Community Working Group, supra note 2.

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