19 January 2018
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Dear Prime Minister,
The Canadian Council for Refugees joins its voice to the appeal from the National Council of Canadian Muslims requesting that January 29 be designated a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia.
We believe that such a National Day would be an appropriate manner to remember the six Muslim men who were murdered in the Quebec City mosque massacre a year ago, as well as those who were injured and bereaved. A National Day would also provide focus and energy for our collective efforts to dismantle the stereotypes, discrimination and hatred that lie at the root of such acts of violence. Our goal must be to prevent such horrific acts from ever occurring again.
The Canadian Council for Refugees is acutely conscious of the importance of overcoming Islamophobia, racism, xenophobia and all other forms of intolerance. Refugees are people who are forced to flee their own countries because they are persecuted on the basis of who they are – often on the basis of their religion. Many refugees and other newcomers to Canada are Muslim: they come looking forward to living in a country committed to human rights, equity and respect for diversity. Too often they find that Canadian realities do not match Canadian ideals, and they face hostility and prejudice, discrimination in the Canadian labour market and even violence, because of their religious identity.
Muslim Canadians and newcomers are working hard to bring Canada closer to its ideals, by providing leadership in combating Islamophobia. All Canadians can join these efforts by observing a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia. Canadian political leaders have a particular responsibility to address forthrightly the problem of Islamophobia and other forms of hatred which lead to exclusion and violence.
Intolerance towards Muslims is not a problem simply for Muslims: it affects us all. When one group is attacked, we are all diminished. We are protecting ourselves when we act to protect a group that is facing discrimination and hatred, and we all benefit when we create a welcoming spirit for all.