Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday May 19, 2022
‘Canada is not immune,’ leading Black voices say in response to Buffalo mass shooting
Members of the Black community in Canada on Monday are warning this country is also vulnerable to hate crime as they react with shock and horror to Saturday’s bloodshed in Buffalo that left 10 Black people dead.
“Canada is not immune to it,” Velma Morgan, the chair of Operation Black Vote Canada, told CBC News Monday.
“We’ve seen what happened at different places of worship, we see what happens in London, Ont., we’re definitely not immune to it at all.”
Payton Gendron, 18, is accused of a racist rampage after he crossed the state to target people at the Tops Friendly Market in one of Buffalo’s predominantly Black neighbourhoods. He had talked about shooting up another store as well, Buffalo Police Commissioner Joseph Gramaglia told CNN.
Authorities in Buffalo are working to confirm the authenticity of a 180-page manifesto posted online, which identifies the accused by name as the gunman. It cites the “great replacement theory,”‘ a racist ideology that has been linked to other mass shootings in the United States and around the world.
Referring to a Statistics Canada report, which says hate crimes against Black Canadians increased by 96 per cent over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Morgan says Canadians should “absolutely” be concerned when it comes to tolerance and diversity.
“We definitely have to be very conscious of [hate crimes against Black people] and we have to, I think, pre-empt it,” Morgan said.
“We need to start doing things to prevent that kind of behaviour here.”
Bartley says Canadian leaders need to “call out white supremacy … and be much more proactive in addressing hate crimes and far right violence before it even occurs.”
“It feels like we’re constantly tiptoeing and we’re stopping short of saying that we have a white supremacist problem,” she said.
Birgit Umaigba, an ICU nurse in Toronto, took issue with a tweet by Catherine McKenna, Canada’s former minister of the environment and climate change, who said she was “feeling very fortunate to live in Canada — a diverse and tolerant country that values freedom while respecting human rights.”
“First of all, that was very distressing to read because it was so void of any empathy for the people that had just lost their lives,” Umaigba said.
“I’m not sure which Canada they are talking about, because for me and people who look like me, it is daily racism. Canada has this notion of always so tolerant and welcoming. We are diverse but it is so not true. It’s daily racism here, the institutions are steeped in so much racism.”
She too says Canadians “should be worried.”
“There’s so many examples: the London truck attack … A white supremacist ran into an entire Muslim family and killed them,” Umaigba said.
“The Quebec mosque shooting happened five years ago, so what are we talking about?” she said, referring to a shooting that claimed the lives of six people during prayers at a mosque in Quebec City in 2017.
“People are flying Confederate flags in their houses as we speak right now.” (CBC)