Kitchener-Waterloo

Racist flyers sent to apartment units in Waterloo; police investigating

A Waterloo woman says she received a racist flyer in the mail at her apartment near Wilfrid Laurier University. Police are investigating.

Flyer makes racist statements about 'negative consequences' of interracial relationships

A Waterloo woman says she received this letter Wednesday, which alleges that interracial relationships have "negative consequences." (Submitted by Nicole Hammond)

Racist flyers opposing interracial marriage have been sent to tenants in at least two buildings owned by Wilfrid Laurier University, the university has confirmed. 

The flyers have an image of a Black man and a white woman sitting next to one another. Underneath, the typed flyer goes on to make racist accusations about IQ and other health outcomes for mixed-race children.  

The flyers were sent through Canada Post, a university spokesperson confirmed. A photo of the flyer submitted to CBC News shows no signature or return address on the envelope. 

Third-year student Nicole Hammond told CBC News her roommate found one of the flyers in their shared mailbox on Tuesday. She believes they were delivered to most, if not all, of the tenants in her building on Ezra Avenue.

"I was outraged and hurt," said Hammond, who has Indian and English heritage. She posted a photo of the flyer online and soon heard back from others who had also received one. 

"A lot of people are going to receive that letter and think, 'Oh, it's just a joke, who cares, they're just bored,'" said Hammond. 

"But that shouldn't be allowed ... and something should be done about it." 

Hate crime investigators with the Waterloo Regional Police Service are working to determine who is responsible for circulating the flyers, said police spokesperson Cherri Greeno in an email. 

Investigation underway

Anyone who receives a flyer should call police immediately and limit their handling of the flyer to preserve forensic evidence, such as fingerprints, Greeno said. 

Canada Post said the flyers were inside stamped envelopes and sent as letter mail after being dropped into a street letter box.

"By sending it in this manner, there would be no indication to Canada Post of the content," the Crown corporation said in a statement. 

"Had this item been deposited at our facilities as a direct mail piece, where we could view the flyer, it would have been reviewed and assessed before any further steps were taken."

Canada Post said it is concerned the postal system was used to distribute the flyers and that it will co-operate with local law enforcement on any further investigation. 

'Uninformed cowards'

The situation comes amid widespread conversations about systemic racism in Canada and the United States, in the wake of a number of recent cases where Black and Indigenous people have been killed or injured in interactions with police. 

Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky told CBC News he's seen photos of the flyers circulating on social media and calls them the work of "uninformed cowards." He said the flyers are an example of the level of racism that people in the region experience on a day-to-day basis. 

Jaworsky said the flyers also demonstrate why the Black Lives Matter movement has gained so much momentum in recent weeks. 

"Everyone is uniting against hate, racism, bigotry, and I think that it's just another reason why we all have to take notice and take action," Jaworsky said.

Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic said he saw the images circulating online when he woke up this morning. 

"I found it absolutely repulsive and disgusting to think that, not only does this kind of hateful and hurtful propaganda exist, but it exists in our own community," said Vrbanovic. There is much work to do in fighting systemic racism and discrimination in Waterloo region, he said.

Both mayors say they independently alerted Waterloo regional police, and hope investigators will find the person responsible as soon as possible.

'It shouldn't be happening'

Meantime, Hammond said she experienced racism growing up in Toronto, and that this incident highlights that it also exists in Waterloo. She told CBC News she recently attended a Black Lives Matter rally in Toronto and plans to continue speaking up about injustice going forward.

"[Racism] shouldn't be happening, we're in 2020," she said. 

"We should all be treated equally and until we are treated equally, I'm not going to stop talking about it."

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