News / Ottawa

Bernier Farber to hold talk on preventing hate crime

The human rights advocate is speaking in Ottawa in response to recent hate crimes.

Bernie Farber

Torstar News Service

Bernie Farber

Hate crimes like the rash of racist graffiti Ottawa saw this November are nothing new, and can be dealt with – but the problem likely goes beyond one teen.

That’s the belief of 30-year human rights advocate Bernie Farber, who will be the keynote speaker at a hate crime prevention talk in Ottawa on Friday.

Farber is the executive director of The Mosaic Institute, an organization that seeks to bridge the gap between diverse communities. Born in Ottawa, Farber has kept a close watch on the recent hate graffiti, and will be speaking at Crime Prevention Ottawa’s “Addressing Hate Crimes” speaker’s session Friday morning.

“It’s important for people to understand that it has happened before,” said Farber.

“Synagogues, mosques and churches have sadly been targeted by those with hate in their hearts, and we have found ways to come together as communities both for self-protection and for comfort, and to ensure that these kinds of things are dealt with to the best of our ability.”

This work has already begun, he said, with multi-faith gatherings taking place in the wake of the graffiti.

But another message Farber hopes to bring is that a youth being apprehended in connection to the crime is not cause for relief.

“I think quite the opposite. I think that we should be really concerned that it was a young offender, not just because of his age, but because he was so steeped in hatred,” he said.

 “I am surmising that while he may be the sole offender, he was mentored by somebody or by a group that might still be very present in Ottawa. So we may not see the end of this,” said Farber.

He said his belief is based on the accuracy of the swastikas and the use of particular references in the graffiti.

“The hate language that was used could only have been known really by a person who has been tutored in hatred,” he said.

Ottawa police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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