As we reflect on current events, sociopolitical uncertainty throughout the world seems to have only risen from where it sat at the beginning of the year. Nearly every day brings news of yet another racist, bigotry, or sexist comment from south of the border. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are under serious threat.
Recently, with rising Islamophobia, a Muslim child was threatened on school grounds by someone wearing a mask. Though schools may see themselves as "neutral," the sense of safety and well-being of many children continues to be hijacked with the ongoing rhetoric of political leaders and increasing hate incidents and crimes.
To be exceptional is to be unusual, rare or outstanding. Right now, we are none of those things. To be exceptional is to figure out a way to make it safe for refugees fleeing the U.S. to come to Canada and to give them a chance to contribute to our country, without having to go underground yet again.
In 2011, financed with Canadian taxpayer money, the government initiated a billboard campaign in the predominant countries of origin of Roma claimants. It sought to deliberately deter Roma from seeking asylum in Canada, stating that "people who make a [refugee] claim without sound reasons will be processed faster and deported faster."
It's getting pretty frustrating having to tell people, especially white people, what racism looks like. As a black woman, it's heartbreaking to see how such incidents are handled and how they are reported and discussed in the media. Most frightening, is the direction in which Canada is going regarding race relations.
All of a sudden, it was OK for America to get back into hate crimes again. Behaviour that had been previously seen as scary stories from a discarded history text book are suddenly back in the news. Here we are, a long history of "haven't we become so much better" wiped clean with story after story of bigotry, Islamophobia, and Neo-Nazi ideals rising from the ashes.
When Rebel Media sent out emails claiming that "Canada is on the verge of passing a law that would prohibit criticizing Islam" and that "If this motion passes, Canadians can be persecuted for expressing any criticism of Islam, even when warranted," I pointed out that M-103 is a motion, not a law, and that it will not change a single comma of existing speech legislation. Apparently, Prime Minister Trudeau disagrees.