Alberta-Hate-CrimesThe new resource will provide Albertans a space to record and document hate incidents in the province. The Alberta Hate Crime Committee (AHCC) announced today the launch of its new initiative, www.StopHateAb.ca. The StopHateAB.ca website will provide a space for Albertans to record and document hate incidents in order to improve awareness and education about hate incidents in our communities to the wider public. Given the recent amount of hate-related incidents that have come to public attention, there is a significant need to collect and track these incidents. While Statistics Canada provides annual reports on hate crimes, there is currently no space to document hate incidents. 

The purpose of the StopHateAb.ca website is to fill this gap in an effort to make information related to hate incidents in the province accessible.Key features of the website include an online form where users can directly document a hate incident, as well as a “heat map” to visually display where these incidents are occurring. While this tool is one way for the wider community to be aware of hate incidents in Alberta, the AHCC reminds the public that it is important to continue to report hate crimes and incidents to the police.

What’s the difference between a hate crime and a hate incident?

A hate crime is an offence committed against a person or property, which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the suspect’s hate, bias or prejudice towards an identifiable group based on, real or perceived, race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor.

A hate incident is a non-criminal action committed against a person or property, the motive for which is based in whole or in part upon the same characteristics mentioned above.

While not all incidents of hate are criminal in nature, the impact on the individual or community is similar. For a variety of reasons, it is important to report these occurrences to police.

About the Alberta Hate Crime Committee (AHCC)

As a collaboration of community, police and justice representatives, the AHCC is committed to bringing comprehensive insight to the issue of hate crimes and incidents in Alberta through the principles of transparency, responsiveness, innovation, collaboration, and inclusiveness. The vision of the AHCC is to foster an environment where Albertans are living in an inclusive, safe, caring and respectful hate-free community.

To learn more about the AHCC, visit www.albertahatecrimes.org

Media contact:

Email: AlbertaHateCrimes@gmail.com

Who is the most frequently targeted for hate crimes?

In addition to race, color, national origin, and religion, individuals are targeted because of other aspects of their identity including disability status, sexual orientation, gender, and gender identity. Hate crime laws are designed to protect all individuals. While minority group members may be at greater risk for hate crimes, anyone can become a victim of a hate crime. For example, in 2007, the FBI reported that 18.4 percent of hate crimes based on race stemmed from anti-white bias.

Who are the perpetrators of hate crime?

Nearly two-thirds of all known perpetrators of hate crimes are teenagers or young adults; not organized groups. Some perpetrators commit hate crimes with their peers as a “thrill” or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; some as a reaction against a perceived threat or to preserve their “turf’; and some who out of resentment over the growing economic power of a particular racial or ethnic group engage in scapegoating.

How does hate crime impact communities?

Hate crimes are different from other crimes in that the offender—whether purposefully or not—is sending a message to members of a given group that they are unwelcome and unsafe in a particular neighborhood, community, school, workplace, or other environment. Thus, the crime simultaneously victimizes a specific individual and members of the group at large. Hate crimes are often intended to threaten entire communities and do so. For example, a hate crime that targeted children in a religious day care center and an ethnic minority postal worker was intended to instill fear in members of these minority communities (Sullaway, 2004). Being part of a community that is targeted because of immutable characteristics can decrease feelings of safety and security (Boeckmann & Turpin- Petrosino, 2002). Being a member of a victimized group may also lead to mental health problems. Research suggests that witnessing discrimination against one’s group can lead to depressed emotion and lower self-esteem (McCoy & Major, 2003). Hate crime can lead to lessened social cohesion and trust.

Why are so few hate crimes reported to the police?

A victim of a hate crime is far less likely than a victim of a similar (but not bias- motivated) crime to report the crime to the police, even when the individual knows the perpetrator. This reluctance often derives from trauma the victim experiences, a fear of retaliation, or belief that law enforcement is biased and will not support them.

How does hate crime differ from hate speech? Where does freedom of speech fit in?

Under Criminal Code provisions 319 (1) and (2), speech that publically incites hatred or willfully promotes hatred against an identifiable group is indictable. As well, under 318, advocating genocide is also an indictable offence. However, there are a number of defenses to these provisions. As such, free speech in Canada is well-protected and only when it falls under these provisions is it limited. The controversy in Canada has erupted not over criminal code provisions, but those in the Human Rights code. In 2008 Richard Moon, Professor of Law University of Windsor, ON was appointed to report to the Canadian Human Rights Commission concerning Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act on this issue and the Regulation of Hate Speech on the Internet.

In a free society, can we really expect to rid ourselves of hate?

No, some people will always hold negative attitudes towards others. However, we can send a loud message through our communities that over acts of hate will not be accepted and will be dealt with by community and/or legal action.

We don’t have target groups in our community so why should I care?

We all have friends and families from different target groups. Attacks on them create a province and a nation that does not protect its most vulnerable citizens. You may be surprised to learn that your community has individuals who have experienced hate activity, but never reported it. Creating an inclusive, welcoming community helps to attract diverse Canadians to our local areas who bring with them new energy, skills, and ideas that can help us create stronger economic, social and cultural opportunities.

Why do we need hate crime legislation? Isn’t the current criminal code sufficient?

Currently, hate crime definitions and data collection differ across the country and even within provinces. We need a more unified approach in Canada in order to better track and deal with hate crime and activity. Data collection depends entirely on hate motivation being identified and included in reports by front- line policing. However, if the Criminal Code were amended to apply hate or bias as a motivating factor, the data would be routinely collected along with other police data and rolled up into the national crime statistics data. The Alberta Hate Crime Committee supports a stand alone section for hate in the Criminal Code that might read:

  1. Everyone commits a hate crime who, while committing a criminal offence is motivated by hate, based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor.
  2. Hate crime is a criminal violation motivated by hate, based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor.

This section would be a stand alone provision of the CCC and would be an additional charge to the primary offence, for example assault motivated by hate. The accused would be charged with two sections of the CCC (Assault 266 of the CCC and Hate Crime new section of the CCC). If a new section were added, hate motivation could be noted right at the time of the investigation and would go into the system regardless of whether or not charges are laid or the Crown uses the motivation to obtain a conviction. This has the benefit of taking the burden off the Crown to prove hate motivation if there is little evidence, but the criminal code violation, e.g., an assault conviction, could still go ahead. What this also does is place the hate motivation on the perpetrator’s criminal record providing investigators with an opportunity to see trends in past behaviour should the individual repeat the offence. It makes it possible to track hate-mongers and develop a pattern of behaviour.

Why do hate crimes have enhanced sentencing provisions?

Canadian law has a principle of proportionality in the sentencing process which argues that the severity of sentences should be directly proportional to the seriousness of the crime. In the case of hate crimes, because there is a disproportionate harm due to the threat to other members of the target community and an affront to the general community.

What can I do if I’m a victim of a hate crime or witness a hate crime?

Contact your local police service or the RCMP immediately. Contact Victim Services in your area.

What can I do to stand up against hate?

  • Speak out
  • Get informed
  • Support targets of hate crime
  • Report hate crime and incidents
  • Talk to your local politicians about joining the Coalition of Canadian Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination.
  • Talk to the Media – letter to editor, press conference, news release
  • Advocate for technical assistance and training for police and justice
  • Create Public Education & Awareness
  • Engage in Contingency Planning
  • Talk to youth

Is there a contact phone number or e-mail address so that I can talk to somebody?

You can contact us at the Alberta Hate Crimes Committee for a referral (780) 453-2638 or your local police service or victim’s assistance service or directly.

In case of a hate assault and INJURY who should I contact?

Contact your local police service and EMS immediately.

What should I do if I see hate graffiti?

Some police services and/or municipal governments have graffiti removal programmes, such as here for Calgary. Other communities have developed a contingency fund (by raising money through bake sales, etc.) to purchase supplies needed to cover graffiti. They have also received donations from local home improvement stores or from re-cycled paint depots at fire halls for paint and other materials that may be needed for repairs.If you think the graffiti is a hate crime (such as defacement of a religious property), you should report it to the police.

We all have friends and families from different target groups. Attacks on them create a province and a nation that does not protect its most vulnerable citizens. You may be surprised to learn that your community has individuals who have experienced hate activity, but never reported it. Creating an inclusive, welcoming community helps to attract diverse Canadians to our local areas who bring with them new energy, skills, and ideas that can help us create stronger economic, social and cultural opportunities.

To learn more about the AHCC and report a hate incident, visit www.albertahatecrimes.org