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Statement from the Ontario Human Rights Commission on the recent attack on the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City

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February 15, 2017

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Beyond remorse – to action

It has now been two weeks since the tragic attack on a Quebec City mosque. Many individuals and organizations across Canada properly voiced their outrage, their sorrow and their support for our Muslim neighbours. But there is more to be done – and this is the time to do it. Taking lasting action is the best way to remember and honour the victims.

First, we must acknowledge that Islamophobia is real, and is embedded across our society including right here in Ontario.  We see Islamophobia all over the airwaves, in the comments sections of mainstream news and on social media. Canada is not immune to the senseless and constant expression of racial intolerance and violence.

We must also admit that as a society, we have failed to take on racism and Islamophobia, and we have not treated it with the urgency that is required. That means shifting the conversation away from religious attire towards the many contributions Muslim Canadians continue to make across Ontario everyday. We must continue to counter the paralyzing fears by promoting and educating about the inherent human values of equality, solidarity and democracy that are the cornerstones of our country.

The aftermath of this tragedy is also a moment for governments and communities, and each one of us, to ask again, what we can do, what we must do, to eliminate Islamophobia. When we witness acts of Islamophobia, we all share the responsibility for calling out this action and working together on solutions – or we can all share the blame when our silence perpetuates more hurt, discrimination and violence.

For example, we can ask someone to stop telling a racist joke. Or we can start a conversation with someone we see is being harassed because of their religious attire. Or we can go to websites like and learn how to fight Islamophobia and racism. Each of us needs to do these little things, and we need to come together to do the big things necessary to build the kind of society envisioned by Ontario’s Human Rights Code.

Let’s all seize the moment and do the right thing – let’s take action so Muslims really are accepted and valued as members of everyone’s community. That’s the kind of Canadian value that’s worth fighting for.

Renu Mandhane, B.A., J.D., LL.M
Chief Commissioner
Ontario Human Rights Commission