Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he's concerned but not surprised by violent, racist threats made on Facebook to a school trustee candidate: he says he fielded only a handful of such attacks in his first five years in office but now faces an almost daily barrage.
The target of the most recent threats was Nimra Amjad, who is running in the upcoming municipal election to become a school trustee in Ward 3 and 4.
There were two threatening comments left on Amjad's Facebook campaign page by someone posting under the name Shawn Street, and a private message was sent to her personal account.
In the first comment, Amjad was called a racial slur and asked what right she has to run for office in Canada.
The post threatened that the neo-Nazi group Aryan Guard would find out where she lives, telling her to "beware."
Aryan Guard has been active in Calgary in the past.
Another post read: "You will be lying dead on the street like Heather Heyer."
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Heyer is the 32-year-old protester killed after a car drove into a crowd in Charlottesville, Va., where white supremacist groups and counter-protesters violently clashed.
"The fact that people are emboldened to do that — that's not the kind of Calgary we live in, that's not the kind of Calgary we want to live in for our kids," Nenshi said.
"Letting in even the littlest edge of the wedge on this stuff is incredibly dangerous and we need to be able to not tolerate intolerance."
Amjad, who called the threats "terrifying," says she is working with Calgary police, who are investigating.
Seeing 'increasing level' of racist attacks, Nenshi says
Nenshi says Amjad is not alone.
"I could probably count the number of racist attacks that I have personally received in the first 5½ years of public life on one or two hands. Now? Almost every day. And what I get is a tiny portion of what women in public life get."
The threats reflect a growing number of racist incidents and hateful behaviour, which come as no surprise to minorities, says Nenshi.
"We have been seeing an increasing level of this kind of activity for many, many, many months and I'm really happy that the rest of the world has awoken to it now," said Nenshi.
"Because the only way to solve it is by good, decent people standing up and saying this is not appropriate."
Looking to the future
The MLA for Calgary Glenmore, Anam Kazim, is a Pakistani Canadian who has experienced discrimination, too. She says Alberta's future is about diversity and inclusivity.
"Our biggest strength lies in those things and how to collaborate with each other to make sure we are strengthening our communities," she said.
Kazim says the province is in the process of compiling information and feedback from Albertans to help prepare a report due in the fall on how to minimize racist incidents here.
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