Thunder Bay now has another way to report experiences with racism with the launch of a new racism-reporting tool open to the public.
The City of Thunder Bay’s Anti-Racism and Respect Advisory Committee, in partnership with Diversity Thunder Bay and Lakehead Social Planning, released an online tool for reporting racism experienced or witnessed by the public.
The tool comes hot on the heels of a Statistics Canada report released in June that listed Thunder Bay as the city with the most police-reported hate crimes per capita.
According to Statistics Canada, the rate of police-reported hate crime in Thunder Bay was mostly the result of 10 incidents against Aboriginal populations, which accounted for 29 per cent of the total anti-Aboriginal hate crimes reported in Canada in 2015. The launch of a hate-crime awareness campaign in Thunder Bay in 2012 is what Statistics Canada notes as influencing the rate of the reporting.
The Hate Divides a Community Campaign, an enterprise of the Thunder Bay Hate Crimes Awareness Committee, was developed with the Crime Prevention Council and Thunder Bay District Crime Stoppers. The Committee was formed as a grassroots response from citizens concerned about hate-motivated crimes and incidents in Thunder Bay.
The racism-reporting tool also comes after tensions between Indigenous and non-Indigenous flared in the city. Following the drowning deaths of two Indigenous youth in the Neebing-McIntyre floodway in May, social media lit up with the hashtag “ThisisThunderBay” in which people posted their experiences with racism in the city.
The Anti-Racism and Respect Advisory Committee, using the hashtag “NotinMyTbay,” has shared the tool across social media platforms.
The chairman of the committee, Amina Abu-Bakare, said racism is widespread in Thunder Bay, and elsewhere.
“Racism is prevalent in this community," Abu-Bakare said. "It's in every society, but we are having a lot of issues. It's time for us to start tracking where these things are occurring.”
City Counselor Rebecca Johnson, who is also a member of the committee, hopes to be able to keep track of incidents of racism and get a better picture of the issue in the city. She hopes the initiative will be able to identify incidences of racism, document them, and provide statistics about what is happening in the city. The aim is to also create ways to address racism in the future.
There are three ways someone can report incidences of racism: in person, online, or through the telephone. Information on the tool and where to submit reports is located at www.lspc.ca/incidentreport