York Regional Police have arrested a Markham man in connection with a string of "hate-motivated" incidents between January and March, in which the victims have all been Asian.
Arjun Choudhari, 33, was arrested Monday and faces three counts of assault, two counts of criminal harassment and one count of assault with a weapon.
On March 16, police say they were contacted after a female victim, who age was not disclosed, was assaulted on Pillar Rock Crescent in the Woodbine Avenue and Major Mackenzie Drive area.
"The victim had been outside walking when a suspect ran up behind her and hit her in the back with an object," police said in a news release.
Over the course of their investigation, police located further victims, linking five other incidents this year with the same suspect.
"All of the victims are Asian and investigators believe that the incidents were hate motivated," the release said.
WATCH | 1,150 racist attacks reoported against Asians in Canada since start of pandemic:
The force says it is aware such incidents are often not reported and is encouraging residents to come forward about anything they believe to be motivated by hate, racism or discrimination.
"We do not tolerate hate in any form," it said, adding those found to be behind such incidents will be prosecuted "to the fullest extent of the law."
In a statement, Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti condemned the actions, saying they do not reflect the community.
"I am deeply disturbed and disgusted by the recent criminal acts by an individual against members of our Asian community," he said.
"Markham is proud to be Canada's most diverse city, we wear it as a badge of honour and we celebrate our rich cultural mosaic."
Scarpitti said he has been heartened by the many acts of kindness and support by Markham residents over the course of the pandemic, adding "this is the DNA of the community."
York Region is one of Canada's most diverse communities, with some 47 per cent of residents born outside of Canada — the third highest percentage in Ontario behind Peel Region and Toronto, according to the municipality.
Nearly 80 per cent of Markham's population identifies as a visible minority.