Opinion: It is time for Canada to move beyond hate

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A racist individual filled with hate toward Muslims drove his truck into a family out for a walk, murdering them simply because of their faith and how they dressed. He orphaned an innocent nine-year-old boy. I may not know the victims personally, but they could have been my family – or any of the Muslim families that I know. This should be incomprehensible in Canada.

Sadly, this has become part of the new normal. Over the past year, as we have been dealing with COVID-19, we’ve also seen the rising tide of racist, xenophobic attacks across Canada, and like many, this has me worried for the country I love.

No Canadian minority group across the country has been left untouched by this insidious and growing trend of violence and hate toward those who look differently, worship differently, or love differently. Since 2017, we’ve seen a sharp increase in the number of hate crimes motivated by race or faith, and there has been no signal of this trend slowing down. 

And so, yet again, we grieve. We grieve because this happened to our community, in our backyard, in Canada – to Canadians – and by a fellow citizen.

Sunday night’s attack struck me to my very core. I cannot help but recall the Islamophobia I’ve experienced personally. Whether it be a passing motorist yelling “Jihad” at me as I go for a walk, having to prove that I can be a Muslim AND be a loyal Canadian, being told that my Muslim name makes someone uncomfortable, or other more subtle manifestations of anti-Muslim sentiment.

But nothing I have experienced comes close to the violence that others have experienced. And so, I count myself lucky. Lucky because just like most other Canadians, I can’t fathom having so much hate in me that I would want to harm someone else.

We all find ourselves trying to make sense of this tragedy, and to find a way to emerge out of this horror that honours those who have been taken. We know we need to combat and defeat racism, and governments at all levels must do their part. It’s up to all of us.

For me – the answer lies in never forgetting that, as Canadians, we all have so much more in common than that which divides us, and we must seek to find strength in that diversity and in those differences. 

Like so many Canadians who came here from somewhere else, my parents fled persecution and arrived in Canada to build a life filled with opportunity, prosperity and hope. They came here knowing that it was their responsibility to build strong friendships, trust, and goodwill – and to contribute to Canada.