Hate Crimes In Quebec Have Surged ​During The Pandemic

Across Canada, the number of racially-motivated crimes almost doubled.

MTL Blog, Associate Editor
A person sits on a step holding a walking stick in Montreal's Chinatown.

A person sits on a step holding a walking stick in Montreal's Chinatown.

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Quebec saw a rise in racially-motivated hate crimes during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report from Statistics Canada.

Police recorded 86 more crimes motivated by race, ethnicity, and religion in 2020 compared to the year before, bringing the total to 571. And the province isn't alone.

Hate crimes increased by 37% across Canada during the period under study. In fact, the number of recorded crimes committed on the bases of race or ethnicity nearly doubled, with communities of colour facing the brunt of attacks.

The highest number of race-based crimes in Canada were committed against Black people, with 318 recorded incidents — a 92% rise from the year before.

East and Southeast Asian groups faced a staggering 301% rise in race-based attacks with 202 recorded crimes; while police recorded 44 hate crimes against Indigenous people (up 152%).

The federal agency notes that self-reported data show a significantly higher rate of race-based violence against First Nations communities. It attributes the lower number of formal police reports to widespread distrust of authorities.

Quebec was just behind B.C. (+198) and Ontario (+316) for the steepest rise in hate crimes, but all provinces and territories aside from two reported a hate crime increase.

"In some cases, these attacks reflect pandemic frustrations being directed at people of colour. But we also have the only government in Canada that doesn't recognize the existence of systemic racism. That's a problem," said Joel DeBellefeuille of Red Coalition, the only federally-registered lobby group in the country fighting to eliminate systemic racism and discrimination.

"If Premier Francois Legault and [Quebec's Minister for the Fight Against Racism] Benoit Charette recognized the existence of systemic racism, it would show those people that racist attitudes are not acceptable," he said.

DeBellefeuille said the new Statistics Canada report is undeniable proof of systemic racism.

"It's a good thing that these realities are coming to the surface so they can be resolved," he said.

“We are going to keep raising awareness. Soon, Mr. Legault will have no other choice than to admit that [systemic racism] exists. It’s a bubble that’s about to pop.”

Sofia Misenheimer
MTL Blog, Associate Editor
Sofia Misenheimer is an Associate Editor for MTL Blog focused on gas prices in Montreal and is based in Montreal, Quebec.
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