Four members of a London, Ont., family who were struck and killed by a vehicle in the city’s northwest Sunday evening are believed to have been targeted because they were Muslim, the area’s police chief said.
“We believe this was an intentional act and that the victims of this horrific incident were targeted,” Chief Steve Williams told reporters during a news conference Monday afternoon. “We believe the victims were targeted because of their Islamic faith.”
Twenty-year-old Nathaniel Veltman was charged with four counts of murder and one count of attempted murder in the hit and run involving a pickup truck.
“There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act motivated by hate. It is believed that these victims were targeted because they were Muslim,” Detective Superintendent Paul Waight said.
Of late, Canada has witnessed a sharp rise in attacks, discrimination against people of certain heritage due to purported hatred that’s spread about people who look different. In April, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) released a report that said “ideologically motivated extremism” is a growing threat.
“Since 2014, Canadians motivated in whole or in part by their extremist ideological views have killed 21 people and wounded 40 others on Canadian soil – more than religiously motivated violent extremism (RMVE) or politically motivated violent extremism (PMVE),” CSIS said in that report.
A report by the Department of Justice stated that a proportion of incidents are never reported to the police. “There are several reasons to believe that the percentage of offences that are not reported to the police may be particularly high for hate crimes. First, victims may fear additional victimization. Second, victims of racially motivated hate crimes may well be apprehensive that the criminal justice system will not take their reports seriously enough. Third, the sensitive nature of hate crimes directed at gays or lesbians may result in the victim staying away from the police for fear of stigmatization on the basis of homophobia.”
As unsettling as they are, these are new Canadian realities one that is rooted in the resentment of the unfamiliar. These incidents go against the value of diversity and respect that Canada represents and invites immigrants to settle in.
While it is easy to call them out as isolated incident of hatred, the perpetrators of such acts take inspiration from acts of terrorism, and we should not shy away from calling it as that. It is also a reminder to the fact that Canada is not immune to terrorism and hatred of those who follow a different religion or are of another race.
Any Canadian going for a walk will fear for his or her life because one cannot fathom what the other is conspiring. That’s a scary scenario. And that will put a pause on the way we should be living, contributing to build Canada and thriving.
It is our hope that every Canadian is grieving this heinous act and resolving to do better, individually and as a community. It is at times like this that Canada and Canadians can come together to demonstrate that there is goodness in all of us. We must strive to learn, accept and respect the other – the other who will not look like us, talk like us, eat like us, read what we like, hold beliefs that are unlike ours.
These incidents also demonstrate how flawed we are and that the road to healing is long and hard. The Immigrant Life believes in the goodness of Canada, its people and our ability build a Canada that is welcoming and warm. The Immigrant Life stands in solidarity with the Muslim community and everyone who is hurting.
We can do better.
We must do better.
Let us be better.