Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Justice Minister Kaycee Madu are scheduled to make an announcement Friday morning aimed at targeting hate-motivated crime in the province.
The province said the pair will announce details about a program to help protect religious and multicultural organizations targeted by hate-motivated crime.
A news conference is scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday. The announcement will be streamed live in this story post.
On Thursday evening, the province announced a new community liaison position on hate crimes that will connect directly with ethnic and religious groups, as well as sexual minority communities who are targeted by hate-motivated crime.
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The liaison will work with the groups to provide the government with a range of expertise on how it can best tackle hate-motivated crimes in Alberta.
In addition, the province said it will also set up a hate crime coordination unit, which will work with law enforcement to “improve and harmonize hate crime mitigation efforts across the province and facilitate training opportunities, intelligence gathering and investigative supports. This includes strengthening the approach to successfully prosecuting individuals charged with hate-motivated crimes.”
The province said the liaison position and unit are still in development and more information will be shared in the coming weeks.
“Hate-motivated crimes and racism are unacceptable — full stop,” Madu said in a news release.
“We’re taking action to help support and empower the communities and groups most affected by this deplorable behaviour. In light of the recent attacks on Canadians simply because of their chosen faith, I hope the new community liaison and hate crimes coordination unit show Albertans our province is fully committed to protecting those being targeted.”
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There have been a series of racially motivated assaults against mostly Black, Muslim women in Calgary and Edmonton in the past six months or so, which have left many in the community feeling anxious and unsafe. It’s gotten so bad that the Al Rashid Mosque in Edmonton has begun offering Muslim women self-defence lessons.
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“Alberta’s government is committed to the safety and security of all communities that have been impacted by these despicable hate-motivated crimes,” said Leela Sharon Aheer, minister of culture, multiculturalism and status of women.
“From Black Muslim women in Edmonton and Calgary attacked for wearing hijab to the recent rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Asian hate, these incidents have had a significant impact on Albertans from diverse backgrounds. The new community liaison and hate crimes coordination unit is a critical step in addressing racism in our province and is the result of strong government leadership and community advocacy.”
The announcement comes just days after a Muslim family of four was run over and killed by a vehicle in London, Ont., in what police say was a targeted attack because of their faith.
Salman Afzaal, 46, his 44-year-old wife, Madiha Salman, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Afzaal and Afzaal’s 74-year-old mother were killed after police say a pickup truck intentionally mounted the sidewalk and struck the family.
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Nine-year-old Fayez Afzaal, the lone survivor, suffered serious injuries.
The accused Nathaniel Veltman made a brief virtual appearance in court Thursday to face four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.
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