Alberta hate crimes researchers want to hear from you

John McCoy, executive director of the Organization for the Prevention of Violence, says researchers want to better understand barriers people experience around reporting hate. (CBC - image credit)
John McCoy, executive director of the Organization for the Prevention of Violence, says researchers want to better understand barriers people experience around reporting hate. (CBC - image credit)

Researchers investigating why hate crimes and incidents go unreported want to hear from Albertans for a study commissioned by the provincial government.

The Organization for the Prevention of Violence (OPV) hopes to hear in particular from members of targeted communities and victims of hate.

"We don't know what the rate of under-reporting looks like, especially in communities that don't report hate incidents and hate crimes," said John McCoy, executive director of the Edmonton-based organization.

"They don't report to police, and then it's in turn not recorded by Statistics Canada."

There are many barriers, including systemic racism, when it comes to reporting hate, McCoy said.

"Unfortunately, some populations that experience hate might not think about it in those terms because it's so everyday."

According to figures from Edmonton police and Statistics Canada, hate crimes have increased in recent years in the city, the province and across the country.

The UCP government has revised the guidelines used to prosecute hate crimes and Edmonton police have urged both victims and witnesses to report all instances of hate.

Stacey Leavitt-Wright
Stacey Leavitt-Wright

A rise in antisemitism is one of the reasons Stacey Leavitt-Wright, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Edmonton, is encouraging community members to participate in the survey, which can be found here, on the OPV website.

"In 2020-21, it's reported that about 1,300 Jews in Canada have reported hate crimes, which is 10 times more than any other religion in Canada," Leavitt-Wright said.

"It's important that we get a local picture."

Leavitt-Wright is pleased the study will also look at hate bias and other incidents, which often go unreported.

"I'm hearing a lot of different kinds of incidents in the community, whether it's threatening phone calls that are coming into synagogues or to our institution, whether it's kids in classrooms, having another child give a 'Heil Hitler' salute."

The Alberta Hate Crimes Committee is also involved in the study.