Time to acknowledge hate crimes against Indigenous people as reality, says legal expert
Decade-old recommendation to adopt Aboriginal hate crimes strategy in Ontario never adopted
The assault of an Indigenous woman in Thunder Bay, Ont. who was hit by a trailer hitch thrown from a passing car is evidence that the time for governments, and individuals to address hate motivated crimes against Indigenous people in Ontario is long overdue, says one legal expert.
While police have not yet determined whether the incident was motivated by hate, Jonathan Rudin, program director at Aboriginal Legal Services in Toronto, said it's common knowledge that there is a practice of throwing objects at Indigenous people in the city.
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"You don't need to say anything. Everyone knows why it's being done," said Rudin.
"I would be surprised if there's any Indigenous person in Thunder Bay who did not think this was a hate crime, and did not understand that why this was done was because this woman was an Indigenous woman."
A decade ago, the province commissioned a report on hate crimes, which recommended the implementation of a strategy specifically aimed at ending hate crimes against Indigenous people, but the strategy was never adopted.
"As far as I can tell, none of the recommendations as they related to hate crimes against Aboriginal people were actually taken up by the government," said Rudin.
Various levels of government have failed to address the problem over the years, he said, adding that the role of government could be to implement public education campaigns.
Individuals also have a responsibility to speak up against hateful practices in their communities, said Rudin.
"There needs to be an acknowledgement that first this thing is happening and second that it's not okay and that people have to take a stand against it," he said.
"And I think had these sorts of strategies been developed, then that sort of awareness, one hopes, would be developing and people would be taking stands against this behaviour."