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Toronto groups call for stronger action against racism, Islamophobia

The call coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21.

Kiruthiha Kulendiren, centre, and other members of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council are calling for stronger mechanisms to fight against racial discrimination.

Eduardo Lima / Metro Order this photo

Kiruthiha Kulendiren, centre, and other members of the Toronto & York Region Labour Council are calling for stronger mechanisms to fight against racial discrimination.

Local community advocates are putting pressure on authorities to do more to stop racism and Islamophobia.

The Toronto & York Region Labour Council has teamed up with members of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations to produce an action plan to help end the spread of acts of racism and support the truth and reconciliation process.

The call coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. It also follows a rash of recent hateful attacks targeting Muslims, and comes at a time when people around the world are wary of Donald Trump’s immigration policies.

“We need strong mechanisms to deal with these issues,” said labour council member Kiruthiha Kulendiren, noting there’s a cyclical wave of acts of discrimination against immigrants and minority groups. “Politicians keep talking about sanctuary cities but we don’t see enough implementation. The time of just pretty words is well past.”

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The plan specifically calls for all public institutions to develop strategies to counter bigotry, anti-Semitism and anti-Black racism. It also specifically calls for the Conservative Party to “act decisively” against the politics of division and intolerance, and encourages corporations to take a firm stand against discrimination and xenophobia.

The labour council recently submitted a report to the Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate, detailing its concerns around criminal justice and mass incarceration of black and other minority people, as well as issues of racialized discrimination in education and public service sectors.

Kulendiren said part of the plan is to engage the general public about what they want to see happening in the fight against racial discrimination.

“Incidents of racism and Islamophobia are going up exponentially in our city, which is really troublesome,” she said, referring to last year’s report from Statistics Canada that showed hate crimes against Muslim-Canadians had doubled over a three-year period. “We really need action now or things will get worse.”

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