Hon. Michael Coteau, MPP
Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism
56 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, ON M5S 2S3
July 14, 2016
Dear Minister Coteau,
I would like to first commend you and the Directorate for undertaking to host nine public community meetings over the course of the summer.
However, I am writing you to request that Waterloo Region be considered as a location for a public community meeting hosted by Ontario’s Anti-Racism Directorate.
Waterloo Region is one of the most innovative and collaborative communities in Ontario. In a spirit of generosity and enthusiasm, Waterloo Region has welcomed more Syrian refugees per capita than any other Canadian community. Our local municipal government partnered with local community services to create a refugee support network, Waterloo Region Welcomes Refugees.
In spite of this, incidents of racism and of racially motivated hate crimes continue to occur in our community at an alarming rate.
As Brice Balmer of Interfaith Grand River noted in his letter dated July 4th, only “five years ago, [Waterloo Region] had the highest rate of hate crimes in Canada.”
Last week, it was reported that Waterloo Region’s reported incidents of hate crimes in 2014 doubled from 2013.
It was also reported last week that a Waterloo man of Somalian heritage who had applied for a job at a financial firm had his application denied because the employer had “read stories about how Somalia has a culture of resistance to authority.”
I believe the best way to eliminate racism and hatred is to establish open and honest dialogue.
I know that you have received letters from other community leaders requesting a public community meeting in Waterloo Region. I also know that the Anti-Racism Directorate has said that there will be nine such meetings this summer and all of those locations have already been set.
It is my hope that you will consider adding another meeting in Waterloo Region.
Catherine Fife, MPP
Brice Balmer, Interfaith Grand River
Michael Hackbusch, House of Friendship
Idrisa Pandit, Muslim Social Services KW