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Commission reports on inquiry into assaults against Asian Canadian Anglers

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May 13, 2008

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For immediate publication

Toronto - The Ontario Human Rights Commission today released the results of its Inquiry into assaults on Asian Canadian Anglers launched last November in partnership with the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic.

Entitled Fishing without Fear, the report confirms that racial profiling played a role in the experiences of harassment and assaults on Asian Canadian anglers. Specifically, concerns were raised throughout the Inquiry about stereotyping Asian Canadians as more likely than others to engage in unlawful fishing. This is a form of racial profiling.

A number of organizations and institutions have taken accounts of the assaults very seriously. The Commission began meeting with police services, municipalities, provincial government ministries, community associations and others to seek cooperation and obtained significant commitments to address discrimination and make communities safer and more welcoming to everyone. For example, the Ontario Provincial Police will be creating a brochure to advise anglers of the issue and where to call if they need assistance. Other commitments focus on addressing hate activity, racism and discrimination more broadly. The town of Georgina has established a local race relations committee, and the Ministry of Education will be working with various school boards to develop teaching materials on anti-racism, using the angler incidents as examples.

Others, like the Ministry of the Attorney General, have already been putting solutions in place. “Ontario is a destination of hope throughout the world because of our vigilance against racism and violence,” said Attorney General Chris Bentley. “The Human Rights Commission’s report gives voice to victims of racism by adding to our ongoing progress in preventing hate crimes through victim support, prosecutorial expertise and public education.”

The York Regional Police has also established initiatives to increase community safety during this year’s fishing season.

Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall stated, “If we are to combat discrimination and support people who experience it, it is critical that Ontario’s institutions show strong leadership by acknowledging that racism exists and taking action whenever and wherever discrimination occurs. I am very pleased by the positive responses we received and the commitments made. They are a step in the right direction that can lead to the creation of inclusive environments where everyone can enjoy pastimes like fishing, without fear.”

In total, the Commission met with 21 organizations and obtained over 50 commitments that will collectively work towards preventing future occurrences of racism and discrimination.

The Commission intends to follow up on reports of any similar incidents, support organizations in fulfilling their commitments, and share information on progress made throughout the year.

Ontario’s human rights system is in the midst of a major transformation. This inquiry is an example of the type of work the Commission will do with communities in the future.

For more information:

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Afroze Edwards
Sr. Communications Officer
Communications and Issues Management
(416) 314-4528

Jeff Poirier
Senior Policy Analyst
Policy Education, Monitoring and Outreach Branch (PEMO)
Ontario Human Rights Commission