August 2, 2023
Toronto – The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada expresses deep concern regarding the escalating hate directed towards Canadians of Ukrainian and Central and Eastern European heritage. We urgently implore the Canadian government to hold those supporting and encouraging such hateful behavior accountable, including personnel at the Russian Embassy in Canada.
Recently, the Sainte-Sophie Ukrainian summer camp in Chertsey, Quebec, experienced an act of vandalism, with Russian neo-fascist and anti-Ukrainian slogans defacing a sign. This incident represents just the latest in a series of efforts by radicalized pro-Kremlin activists to intimidate Ukrainian Canadians and promote hatred against them.
Over the past 15 months, vehicles displaying the Ukrainian flag have been targeted, with their tires slashed and windows smashed. Additionally, a Ukrainian-owned bakery in Toronto has suffered multiple acts of vandalism. Reports from CBC earlier this year indicated that Ukrainian students in Ottawa were facing harassment and intimidation. It is essential to acknowledge that these hate crimes are not confined to the Ukrainian community alone. Last year, the Estonian community in Canada received a threatening letter, implying the use of anthrax if their support continued.
The Central and Eastern European Council in Canada, representing 4.5 million Canadians of CEE heritage, unequivocally condemns all forms of intimidation and hate based on ethnic identity. We stand together with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress in advocating for eight crucial points to combat the rise of anti-Ukrainian and anti-Central and Eastern European hatred in Canada:
- Issue a public statement unequivocally condemning the rising pattern of hate-motivated attacks against the Ukrainian Canadian community and supporters of Ukraine;
- Develop and deliver programs to educate the public and counter disinformation that incites hatred against Ukrainians;
- Develop and deliver programs of media literacy as part of a national core curriculum starting in pre-school, similar to the program developed in Finland;
- Educate the Canadian public to identify state sponsored propaganda and online information that is intended to mislead;
- Renew and reinstate the Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program (SIP) that provided federal funding for enhancing the security of community buildings and places of worship;
- Expel diplomats of the Russian Federation and others, including agents of foreign interference who foment, orchestrate and finance campaigns of hatred against Ukrainians;
- Prevent entry into Canada of supporters of Vladimir Putin and his genocidal regime who embolden those who would foment hatred against Ukrainians;
- Introduce legislation that establishes a Foreign Agent Registry.
We call upon the government, civil society, and all Canadians to join us in combating hatred, fostering a more inclusive society, and safeguarding the dignity and rights of all our citizens, regardless of their ethnic background. Together, we can build a stronger, more harmonious Canada for everyone.