Preliminary findings released in Inquiry into Assaults against Asian Canadian Anglers



    TORONTO, Dec. 14 /CNW/ - Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall today released
the Ontario Human Rights Commission's Preliminary Findings of its Inquiry into
Assaults against Asian Canadian Anglers. The Inquiry, which was launched on
November 2nd, stemmed from a series of media reports and community concerns
about a number of incidents across south and central Ontario in which Asian
Canadian anglers were physically or verbally assaulted while fishing.
    "These incidents remind us that racism and racial discrimination exist in
Ontario and show how harmful such events can be for all of us," stated Barbara
Hall, further adding that, "What is clear is that the simple activity of going
fishing for some Asian Canadian anglers has taken on very disturbing racial
overtones."
    The Inquiry, launched in partnership with the Metro Toronto Chinese and
Southeast Asian Legal Clinic (MTCSALC), invited individuals who had either
encountered or witnessed incidents while fishing to share their experiences by
way of a telephone hotline or an online survey. During the course of the
Inquiry, the Commission received over 30 accounts from across south and
central Ontario including from communities in the areas of Aurora and Richmond
Hill, Ottawa, and Lake Huron. The majority of submissions came from three
areas: Lake Simcoe, Peterborough, and the Rideau Locks, all popular areas for
locals and tourists who enjoy water sports, including angling.
    Accounts reveal experiences of racial harassment, ranging from verbal
assaults using racial slurs, to destruction of fishing equipment, to
stone-throwing. Racialized anglers have felt their physical and psychological
safety and integrity threatened, and in some of the cases under police
investigation, they have been subjected to physical violence. The reports also
show the profound impacts of the incidents on the individual involved, their
friends and families, and the Asian Canadian community as a whole. Anglers who
contacted the Inquiry, also expressed a sense of helplessness or fear of
reprisal in reporting incidents to authorities.
    A number of submissions raised concerns about conservation and protection
of fish stocks. Conservation and protection of Ontario's fisheries are not
only important in environmental terms, they are also vital to the livelihoods
of many Ontarians. While these are important objectives, it is disturbing that
many submissions raising conservation concerns showed the very kind of
stereotyping and name-calling that the Commission is fighting against. It is
also of concern when Asian Canadian anglers are viewed as outsiders in
relatively homogeneous communities and assumed to be breaking the laws.
    "Stereotyping any one community by assuming that certain people are more
likely to commit illegal activity is not only wrong, it's against the law,"
stated Hall, further commenting that, "In a society as diverse as ours, we
need to learn about each other, from each other and how we can work together
to fight racism, discrimination and harassment whenever and wherever it
occurs."
    The Commission will be working with community partners, meet with
responsible institutions to find solutions and take effective action.
    In Spring 2008, the Commission will release a Final Report outlining
conclusions and a plan of action so that root causes are addressed and these
kinds of incidents do not happen again.

    Aussi disponible en français





For further information:

For further information: Jeff Poirier, Manager, Communications, Policy &
Education Branch, (416) 314-4539, jeff.poirier@ohrc.on.ca; Afroze Edwards, Sr.
Communications Officer, Policy & Education Branch, (416) 314-4528,
afroze.edwards@ohrc.on.ca


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