Black, Muslim women in Edmonton face multifaceted discrimination, senators told

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Dunia Nur, president of the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council, told senators the voices of Black, Muslim women are being excluded from the conversation of discrimination. (Min Dhariwal/CBC News - image credit)
Dunia Nur, president of the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council, told senators the voices of Black, Muslim women are being excluded from the conversation of discrimination. (Min Dhariwal/CBC News - image credit)

Senators are hearing about the many ways Black, Muslim women in Edmonton face discrimination, as the Senate Committee on Human Rights stops in select Canadian cities most impacted by Islamophobia.

Dunia Nur, president of the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council, urged senators Thursday to look at Islamophobia from a multifaceted lens.

Black, Muslim women face Islamophobia, in addition to anti-Black racism, Afrophobia and gender-based discrimination and violence, Nur told senators.

"When you identify and you experience that pain on a daily basis, it is as if you are excluded and you feel a sense of isolation and you belong to no community," Nur told CBC News, after her presentation.

The committee hearings were born out of the alarming rise in Islamophobia in Canada, said Sen. Salma Ataullahjan, the chair of the committee.

Police-reported hate crime against Muslim people in Canada rose from 84 incidents in 2020, to 144 incidents in 2021, Statistics Canada data shows.

Min Dhariwal/CBC News
Min Dhariwal/CBC News

"The one thing we're finding out: it's really bad for Muslim women," Ataullahjan said while on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"We're going to be looking at gendered Islamophobia, and if you're Black and Muslim, then your experiences are worse."

Black, Muslim women have been the target of a string of verbal and physical attacks in Edmonton in recent years.

One of the victims said Edmonton police initially discouraged her from filing a report, an allegation Nur flagged to the committee Thursday.

Nur said Black, Muslim women need a hearing of their own because they have largely been left out of consultations to address the violence.

"Black Muslim women need a space where they can add and contribute," Nur said.

"I don't see anybody here that is directly from that community."

Senator 'shocked'

B.C. Sen. Mobina Jaffer was shocked by what she heard about Edmonton police, and said the committee will follow up.

"To hear from the community they had very little support from the police, that has shocked me," Jaffer said. "That's not the image I have of our police."

CBC News contacted the Edmonton Police Service for comment, but it did not immediately respond.

Senate committee members heard from Muslims and academics in Vancouver on Wednesday. They will be visiting Quebec City and Toronto in the coming weeks.

Their findings will be the basis of a report that will provide recommendations to the federal government about how to address Islamophobia.