The Alberta Hate Crime Committee has launched a website in order to document hate-related incidents across the province by type, time and location.
While Statistics Canada tracks hate crimes, there wasn’t a method to record incidents without a criminal element.
“From our committee perspective, those are just as important to understand and examine because it does kind of fuel some of those seeds of hatred,” Irfan Chaudhry said.
The Criminal Code of Canada defines a hate crime as a crime 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. Hate crimes should be reported to police.
A hate incident is a non-criminal action committed against a person or property motivated (in part or entirely) by the same characteristics that define hate crimes.
“At the end of the day, if no criminal element is involved – even if it’s fuelled by a real or perceived hate or bias – police are limited in their ability,” Chaudhry said.
But now, that doesn’t mean hate incidents will go undocumented. Albertans are being asked to document them through the #StopHateAB website to help build a real-time map of these cases.
“There wasn’t anywhere else that documents these incidents – both in Edmonton or Alberta or in general in Canada – because we often don’t track this information. When you can’t see what you can’t measure – it just assumes there’s no real issue. When we’re able to at least make visible these types of daily occurrences – to be quite frank – at least it gives a space for people to report,” Chaudhry said.
“Having a slur thrown at them, or a derogatory comment… One of the things we’ve asked – as an optional feature – of folks as they’re filling out the form online is… give us information or ideas around how you think these incidents should be handled.”
Chaudhry also feels it presents an opportunity for groups to respond.
“How can we collectively work better together not always downloading the responsibility on the police? Communities and organizations also have a role to play in this as well.”
The submissions will be vetted before being posted on a map of Alberta that will be updated monthly.
“On the hot spot map specifically, you’ll be able to see things like city, the motivation, the location where it happened and the date,” Chaudhry said.
The data will help the Alberta Hate Crime Committee tailor its educational initiatives in the future. It could also help different organizations looking for funding to address related issues, he said.
“It’s been really humbling, to be quite honest, what people are willing to document and report and from that perspective, it showcases that this is needed, right?”
Chaudhry hopes seeing the reality of hate in Alberta communities will spark a desire for action.
“Reigniting that conversation. I know a lot of times folks who are uncomfortable with this stuff try to shy away from it,” he said. “We want people to talk about this stuff. If it makes you uncomfortable, that’s good because then we can get that conversation started.”