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Waterloo region among top municipalities in Canada for police-reported hate crimes

A new Statistics Canada report says police reported hate crimes in Waterloo region are up 260 per cent over previous years

Waterloo region remains among the top 10 metropolitan areas in Canada for most reported hate crimes for its population size, with local police reporting a significant increase in hate crimes in the first year of the pandemic.

A new Statistics Canada report shows hate crimes reported to Waterloo regional police increased 260 per cent between 2019 and 2020.

The region has consistently been in Canada’s top 10 for hate crimes according to the report, but hate crimes in 2020 were the highest ever recorded, up 37 per cent across Canada in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, Waterloo region reported the most hate crimes since comparable data became available in 2009.

There were 54 incidents reported in 2020 compared to 15 in 2019. 

The report notes that an increase in numbers may be related to more reporting by the public due to increased outreach by police in communities where heightened sensitivity to the issue exists following high profile events.

It could also represent a "true increase in the extent of hate crimes being committed."

Across Canada the hate crimes against East or Southeast Asian people went up 301 per cent while crimes targeting Black people were up nearly 92 per cent.

The Jewish community saw a five per cent increase in hate crimes.

The communities that were targeted the most were Black and Jewish communities, with the majority of these being non-violent crimes like vandalism and mischief. 

According to the report, a police-reported hate crime is defined as, “a criminal violation against a person or property motivated by hate, based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or gender identity or expression, or any other similar factor.”

The report says hate crimes are solved at a lower rate than non-hate related crimes.

This includes one of the most reported types of hate crime, common assault. This is due to the fact that most of these crimes are being committed by strangers, so they can be harder to solve, says the report. 

Statistics Canada graph

Waterloo region is seeking to bolster its defense against hate related incidents with new funding targeting anti-Islamic hate.

Last year, the Coalition of Muslim Women of KW started a program in collaboration with local and federal governments to help people report these incidents online. 

Since the website went live last spring, has processed 87 reports, consisting of 82 reports of hate and five of discrimination.

According to the Waterloo Regional Police Service website, hate crimes are vastly under reported.

Two recent hate crimes reported to WRPS happened in January in Waterloo where officers responded to a report of graffiti that included a hate-motivated symbols and writing, and an incident later the same week in which a 33-year-old Waterloo man was charged with mischief in relation to spray painting hate symbols inside a business.

Police encourage the community to report any incident believed to be motivated by hate and say all crimes and matters surrounding hate will be investigated.

“Incidents and crimes rooted in hate continue to be under reported in Canada. But your voice can change that. If you see or experience hate, report it. We want everyone to live in a safe space, and by reporting, we can investigate these matters, bring appropriate charges and help support victims to create a safer, more inclusive community.”

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Joe McGinty

About the Author: Joe McGinty

Joe McGinty is a multimedia journalist who covers local news in the Cambridge area. He is a graduate of Conestoga College and began his career as a freelance journalist at CambridgeToday before joining full time.
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