Anti-Islamophobia policy hits hard at Waterloo Regional Council

The new policy aimed at countering Islamophobia was suspended by Waterloo Region council on Wednesday night, after the group that helped draft the motion said integral elements had been left out.

The Muslim Women’s Coalition of KW (CMW) submitted recommendations to the board, which included long-term regional funding for the Reporting and Supporting Hate and Discrimination program, once federal government funding expires on next month.

The group said its request for regional funding was shelved ahead of Wednesday’s vote.

“We provided information on our model and even an annual budget, as requested by the region. However, the final report submitted completely omitted the funding element and closed the door to exploring anti-harassment regulations suggesting that an existing regulation be used instead,” said Fauzia Mazhar, executive director of the KW Muslim Women’s Coalition at Wednesday’s meeting.

Mazhar added that the group was completely excluded from the report writing phase and did not see the final report until it was made public.

“This act of omission and exclusion has shaken my own belief in the region’s own assurances of systemic change and commitment against racism.”

The Hate and Discrimination Reporting and Support Program was designed to enable anyone to report incidents while providing support to victims.

The coalition said the program is different from other recommendations because the service offered can make a real difference in the community.

“This third party community program is cost effective, it is preventative work, it is upstream work and it has proven to be effective. This is a great opportunity for the region to adopt this fully functional system to make a difference in community safety and This will be a step that will set a precedent for other Canadian municipalities as well,” said CMW member Sarah Shafiq.

“What we were asking of the region is to test investment in an upstream, community-led, community-based, community-based security response,” Mazhar said. “The community must be involved in the whole 360° process. Not just in the initial knowledge-gathering phase.

The Board agreed to add the funding request to the table and defer the vote to another meeting in the future.

“We know that people are really traumatized by acts of racism and hate,” said regional president Karen Redman. “We believe that we can always improve our communication. I know there have been a lot of consultations over several months. We have to keep talking and we have to keep listening. »

Redman added that they want to step up their support for the community to fight Islamophobia.

“We know that many acts of violence are happening specifically around Islamophobia. We are happy to step up our community support to fight this,” Redman said.

The KW Muslim Women’s Coalition also proposed that the region assess the use and effectiveness of enforcement of bylaws in combating racial harassment for a suggested period of one year and then release the relevant data to the public. .

Here are the recommendations tabled by the Region of Waterloo:

  • Commitment to recognize January 29 as the National Day of Remembrance for the Quebec City Mosque Attack and the annual day of remembrance for the victims
  • Continued participation in the Green Square campaign
  • Regional staff collaborate with CMW and other local groups on anti-Islamophobia strategies
  • Implement anti-Islamophobia training for regional staff
  • Explore existing programs and services to provide better anti-Islamophobia education
  • Use recommendations in accordance with the community safety and well-being plan
  • Ensure regional facilities and services are safe and welcoming through enforcement of applicable regulations

Elna M. Lemons