By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton doesn’t do enough to provide help to people who are victims of hate crimes, including the anti-racism organization the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, says council’s advisory group the Committee Against Racism.
It’s one of the reasons why Roger Cameron, chair of the city’s advisory committee, the group is requesting $130,000 to create an anti-racism resource centre, including a hotline to allow victims of hate crimes to seek counseling and assistance. It would be an 18-month pilot project.
“It could be one of a kind,” said Cameron. “Let’s take a chance.”
Cameron said people who are experiencing hate incidents are “falling through the cracks” as police and other community organizations unable to provide help.
He said in 2011 there was 180 hate or biased motivated crimes in the city, according to statistics provided by the Hamilton Police Service. Cameron said in 126 of those incidents police did not conduct any investigations. In 2012 there were 161 hate or biased motivated crimes, with145 people did not have their complaints reviewed by police.
In comparison, said Cameron, HCCI received four hate-motivated complaints in 2011, and two in 2012.
“Where did (those people) go?” said Cameron. “All somebody wants is someone to talk to.”
The anti-racism committee conducted a review to see if an anti-racism centre would be needed in 2012 and 2013 including conducting focus groups with community groups.
He said the committee against racism met with officials from HCCI and discovered the organization, created over a decade ago after the firebombing at theHinduSamajTemple, didn’t take action on racist complaints that were made to them.
“There is no agency in Hamilton dedicated to responding to individuals who experience racism,” said Cameron.
But Evelyn Myrie, executive director of HCCI, said responding to complaints about racism isn’t part of the HCCI’s mandate. In addition, creating such a venue would be costly, and would involve extensive policies to investigate the complaints.
“We do not put a banner out (asking people) to please call us,” said Myrie.
She said racism is pervasive across the community, and needs to be tackled in a variety of methods, and not just following up on complaints.
“One approach is not a solution,” she said.
HCCI, said Myrie, meet with organizations, such as school boards, businesses, community groups and businesses to facilitate agreements among people.
Stoney Creekcouncillor Brad Clark said the city could get itself in some conflict if it funds such a complaint-driven organization. He said the Ontario Human Rights Commission already oversees complaints made by people impacted by racism and discrimination.
“How can the city create a small human rights commission?” asked Clark.
Members of the audit, finance and administration committee agreed to ask for a report.