By Ninu Kang
People who witness another person or group being attacked verbally or physically through racism, xenophobic or Islamophobic acts often don’t know what to do and end up doing nothing, perhaps later feeling guilty as a result.
If you find yourself in one of these situations, you can be more than a bystander; here are some tips:
- Make eye contact with the person being verbally attacked; let them know you support them
- Assess the safety of yourself and others around you; you don’t want to escalate the situation
- Be calm as ‘calm creates calm’
- Move closer to the victim to non-verbally show that you are near and supportive
- If you say something, comment on the behaviour you are seeing and not label anyone
- Stay with the victim and ask how you can help
- If the incident leads to police involvement, consider being a witness and let the person or police know how they can contact you
What is the current problem?
Canada enjoys an international reputation of being a country with friendly policies welcoming immigrants including refugees. However, stories from people who are not seen as being from the dominant culture paints a different picture. Canada has a long history of discriminatory policies and practices that has negatively impacted people who are Indigenous, immigrants, refugees, LGTBQ, disabled, and many targeted ethnic groups. While some gains have been made over the years, there is an emerging issue of racism and hate that is impacting some individuals and their communities.
Through social media, we are seeing stories of aggression and hate towards certain groups. The police are reporting a rise in hate crimes. Hate towards newcomers and refugees is sometimes used to gain political positioning. Our traditional institutions such as the police and the army are getting called out on social media and in general media for not doing enough to create a culture of inclusion and diversity.
The experience of racial attacks leaves people traumatised and sometimes the affects of the impact followed days or weeks later. There are many community organizations across BC that can direct you to support services and networks in BC. Please click here (VictimLinkBC) for more information, call 1-800-563-0808 or visit saysomethingbc.ca.
MOSAIC Takes Action
MOSAIC, with the vision to empower newcomers to fully participate in Canadian society provides a long range of services along with engaging communities to respond to various issues, including the rise of racism and hate in Canada. To learn more about MOSAIC, please visit mosaicbc.org/about.
If you have been the victim of a crime, MOSAIC can provide emotional support, information about your rights, legal information and referrals to help in your recovery. To learn more, please visit mosaicbc.org/msv.
Additionally, MOSAIC offers free, confidential counselling support and multicultural outreach services for women who have experienced, or are at risk of, abuse, threats, or violence in an intimate relationship, sexual assault or childhood abuse. To learn more, please visit mosaicbc.org/stv.