The myth of the post-racial society

Why Canada cannot afford to forget reality

The myth of the post-racial society

The myth

In a recent interview that set the internet ablaze, actor Liam Neeson recounted how, upon hearing that his friend had been sexually assaulted by a Black person, he proceeded to stalk the town with a weapon, hoping some “Black bastard” would provoke him so that he could kill them. Neil Price, Associate Dean at Humber College, wrote in The Globe and Mail that Neeson’s remarks destroyed the “poisonous and persistent idea that we live in a postracial society.” But what does Price mean by post-racial, and why is it so poisonous?

The esteemed civil rights advocate Kimberlé Crenshaw wrote in a 2017 article, “Race to the Bottom,” that post-racialism could be defined as a “veritable orgy of self-congratulation” that uses markers of racial progress to place racism “decisively in the past.” An American herself, Crenshaw used the rhetoric around Barack Obama’s presidency to demonstrate her point. With the election of Obama, she says, liberals and conservatives alike touted the repeal of the “painful, violent legacy of white supremacy… in one miraculous fell swoop.” However, this claim was quickly and forcefully rebuked by the election of Donald Trump, whose policies targeting both racialized immigrants and American citizens have exposed Obama-era claims of racial harmony as a façade. In Canada’s case, we have never elected a prime minister who identifies as a person of colour and acts as the “photographic negative” of leaders like Trump. Yet Price is a Canadian writer writing for a Canadian outlet, suggesting that he believes that the fallacies of the post-racial society are applicable to this country too.

University of Toronto professor and postcolonial scholar Sherene H. Razack undoubtedly agrees. Dialing in on the Canadian identity, Razack argued in “Stealing the Pain of Others” that, through the consumption of media about Canada’s peacekeeping role in the Rwandan genocide, Canada reaffirmed itself as a humanitarian nation, a “compassionate middle power who is largely uninvolved in the brutalities of the world.” In this way, “the pain and suffering of Black people can become sources of moral authority and pleasure, obscuring in the process our own participation in the violence that is done to them.” For example, why does Canada’s support for the Catholic Church, which participated in and abetted the Rwandan genocide, go unquestioned by many Canadians?

While Razack used international examples to explain how Canada forms its mild-mannered identity, I believe her argument fits nicely within Canada’s domestic affairs as well, particularly with regard to the country’s relationship with Black history. Fitting, considering February is coming to a swift conclusion.

What we don’t talk about when we talk about Black history

Consider the narrative of the Underground Railroad. A remarkable feat to be sure  over 30,000 slaves from the American South fled to Upper Canada under the guidance of several leaders including Harriet Tubman in the mid-1800s. But what does it mean to understand this story as foundational to this country’s national history? Portrayed as the destination for fleeing slaves, Canada imagines itself as a safe haven for the persecuted and the enslaved. Not only are racism and slavery relegated to the past, they are conceptualized as geographically separate from Canadian borders.

More recently, consider the new Canadian $10 bill, featuring civil rights activist Viola Desmond. There’s nothing inherently problematic about celebrating Desmond; her act of protest in a Nova Scotian segregated movie theatre deserves to be recognized. However, the ways in which Desmond and her immortalization on the $10 bill are talked about are very characteristic of the “orgy of self-congratulation” that Crenshaw described.

At the new bill’s reveal, Minister of Finance Bill Morneau commented on the importance of Desmond’s pursuit of beauty school. Despite the apparently “hard to believe” fact that beauty schools did not admit Black students, considering this was already the ’30s and ’40s, Desmond shone in a time when “the deck was doubly stacked against Viola, because of both gender and the colour of her skin” — as if women of colour today do not face similar intersectional barriers. To his credit, Morneau acknowledged that “though we’ve come a long way… we do still have a ways to go in our country.”

In a speech marking the beginning of this year’s Black History Month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau shared similar sentiments, saying that “Canada is a country built on diversity… a place where everyone is equal,” even though “the struggle for equality continues.” In the same speech, Trudeau said that “Black Canadians face discrimination and systemic racism, and that’s not right,” asserting that his government is making sure that “every Canadian has an equal opportunity and equal chance at success.”

The Trudeau government’s treatment of Indigenous communities across the country makes it difficult to take this commitment to racial justice seriously. The most recent example that has reached media attention is the Wet’suwet’en Nation’s standoff against TransCanada, in which Indigenous people and supporters gathered in the Unist’ot’en camp to prevent employees of the pipeline company from accessing the road and bridge that runs through their territory. In December, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police entered the Nation’s Gidimt’en camp, arresting 14 people while enforcing a court injunction to stop the Wet’suwet’en from preventing workers from gaining access necessary for the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

The treatment of former cabinet minister Jody Wilson-Raybould further demonstrates the lack of consideration that the Trudeau government is putting into reconciliation efforts heading into the federal election this fall. An Indigenous member of the First Nations Summit task force in British Columbia criticized the federal government for this and much more. “The prime minister has said on numerous occasions that there was no relationship more important to him than that between himself and Indigenous peoples of his country,” she said. “There are so many things… that are giving rise to questions… as to whether those words ring hollow, whether his promises ring hollow, because that’s what it’s starting to look like.”

This notion can perhaps be best summed up in the following: Trudeau’s appeal to the dreams of Indigenous people and other racialized Canadians, embodied in his Indigenous raven tattoo, blissfully ignores the criticisms of Robert Davidson, the Haida artist who inspired this very tattoo. Following the Trudeau government’s approval of the Pacific NorthWest liquefied natural gas terminal near Lelu Island, Davidson said that Trudeau “presents himself as an ally… with our ink on his body. We feel he’s stabbed us in the back.” The project threatened one of British Columbia’s largest salmon runs, and one of Haida’s most critical resources. The project has since been cancelled, citing untoward market conditions.

This dismissal of Indigenous rights and priorities is the exact same thing that the Liberal government should have been criticized for during its consultations for a new national anti-racism strategy last year. Rodriguez said that ‘systemic racism’ is “not a part” of his vocabulary, citing the fact that Canada “is not a racist society, wherever one lives.” Pressured by New Democratic Party MPs, Rodriguez eventually walked the statement back. Interestingly, multiculturalism critic Jenny Kwan said that the minister’s remarks were a “slap in the face of Indigenous peoples,” which is undoubtedly true.

His remarks were also a slap in the face to Black Canadians.

Black Canadians make up less than three per cent of the population but are overrepresented in the prison population at about nine per cent. Black students are also by and large being streamed into applied programs instead of academic ones in high school, and 42 per cent are suspended at least once by the time they finish high school, according to data from the Toronto District School Board. Despite the fact that the Black population of Toronto is just 8.3 per cent of the city’s, Black people accounted for 36.5 per cent of fatalities in encounters with Toronto police from 2000–2017.

On a broader level, the idea that Canada is immune to systemic racism is, of course, not true. A 2018 study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found, unsurprisingly, that racialized workers are “significantly more likely to be concentrated in low-wage jobs and face persistent unemployment and earnings gaps compared to white employees” in Ontario. Additionally, racialized women were “25 per cent more likely to be working in occupations in the bottom half of the income distribution than white men.”

How are we doing?

So how is an institution like the University of Toronto dealing with such a reality?

To understand a bit about Black student experiences at U of T, I got in touch with Irene Duah-Kessie, a second-year graduate student in the Master of Science in Sustainability Management program and Communications Officer for the Black Graduate Students Association (BGSA). “I believe every program at UofT can do more to acknowledge and integrate Black history, issues, and scholars into its curriculum,” Duah-Kessie wrote when asked about whether U of T adequately integrates Black history into its academics. “In my first-year as a UofT graduate student, it was quite challenging for me to find a space or people to discuss Black history and some of the issues I was facing specific to the Black student experience.”

Explaining how the BGSA fills those gaps, she said that it plays an “integral role in fostering a stronger support system” for Black graduate students at U of T. “As one of the few Black graduate students in my program, finding out about BGSA was super exciting for me because there was finally a space where I [could] meet people that look like me and understand my struggles with academia and life in general.”

However, Duah-Kessie cautioned that the prevalent academic and social gaps for Black students cannot be filled by groups like the BGSA alone as students can only do so much, but that the group is “a step in the right direction.” She elaborated that “there is still a need for more Black staff, faculty, and support services that address the unique needs of Black students. For instance, I remember wanting to speak with a counsellor of colour after my first year, but unfortunately there was only one available and he was restricted to only servicing students that belonged to a specific program.”

The university, she continued, “should be working closely with its Black students and the community at large to create more services and capacity building opportunities that reflect our needs and experiences. I see UofT taking strides to fill some of these gaps with the Black Faculty Working Groups, Black Student Application Program and the Community of Support Program in the Medicine Department; however, we still have a long way to go to make other Black students, faculty, and staff feel at home at UofT.”

Her previous work with First Nations House opened her eyes to potential models for bettering resources and opportunities for Black students on campus. “It was a great experience as I got to meet with many Indigenous students and staff on campus, where I learned about the various resources, workshops and events they have available to us. I think what stood out to me was their library filled with knowledge from Indigenous scholars, and I thought to myself how cool would it be to access a space at UofT with a library of Black and African-Canadian scholars.”

On Black History Month, Duah-Kessie said that “in a society where people of colour, particularly Black people, still face the challenges of living in a White supremacist world, I personally think that it is important to celebrate Black History Month… I see it as a month where we are able to remind one another of the accomplishments Black people have made to society in the face of systemic barriers.”

While designating February as the special month could limit conversations celebrating Black history, Duah-Kessie wants to have year-round conversations. However, she believes February is an important springboard for broader discussions. “Although some people may argue that Black History Month in February poses barriers on talking about Black history for the rest of the year, I like to think otherwise. I see it is as a month where we can come together in celebration of what our society can begin to look like if we are open and willing to embrace the past, just as much as we embrace the future.”

The myth revisited

Experiences like Duah-Kessie’s demonstrate the need for increasingly inclusive curricula at all levels of education going forward. Initiatives like the Toronto District School Board’s Africentric Alternative School is a great example. The school, which just celebrated its 10-year anniversary, has a curriculum that focuses on “the perspectives, experiences and histories of people of African descent.” Children who attend the school say that their instructors “encourage us to love ourselves,” emphasizing the confidence they gain from attending the school.

U of T can learn a lot from these positive and diverse learning environments. While restructuring the entire institution’s approach to curriculum would be an incredible undertaking, declaring a renewed focus on diversifying the academic voices we learn from, both in person and on paper, would be a huge step in the right direction.

Diversifying the curricula can also help rid us of the persistent post-racial mindset. As Crenshaw said, “The brutal fashion in which Trump’s rise repealed virtually every plank of post-racialist self-congratulation underlines how flimsy and premature the celebrations of Obama’s top-of-the-ticket symbolic breakthrough were.” Post-racial thinking isn’t just delusional, it’s dangerous. We cannot say to ourselves that the mission is accomplished, when it is clearly far from so, especially in Canada where white nationalist Faith Goldy placed third in last fall’s Toronto municipal election.

We, as students and as Canadians, must make a committed effort to creating diverse curricula that exposes us to the multitude of ways in which Canadians experience this country. That, I think, is one of the lasting messages of Black History Month, and one that will help the country grow in constructive ways, hopefully leading to more inclusive environments in institutions and communities that can truly claim to embrace difference.

Half and half: growing up mixed-race

My South Korean and Croatian heritage

Half and half: growing up mixed-race

Intersections is a new Features subsection exploring multiculturalism and diaspora in Toronto. Students consider how their cultural backgrounds have influenced their experiences, perspectives, and stories.

If I had an Instagram follower for every time someone told me my mixed-race heritage was “exotic,” well, let’s just say I’d give Kim K a run for her money.

Comments like these always confused me; it never struck me as weird growing up in a biracial household. My father is Korean, and my mother is Croatian. While definitely an uncommon combination, it was normal for me to start the week off eating bibimbap and finish the week eating ćevapčići. However, I’ve never been able to escape the curiosity about my mixed heritage. What seemed like normal to me was a foreign concept to many.

Up until entering U of T, the reservoir of snide comments that had accumulated throughout my life convinced me that my family deviated from the norm of single-race ‘purity.’ But before I explain how U of T changed that perception, we need to recount a bit of history first.

A Chu family history

My dad grew up in Busan, South Korea. He immigrated to Canada when he was in elementary school, and his family settled in Etobicoke. Like a lot of immigrants in the 1970s, he grew up relatively poor, he didn’t speak a lot of English, and as the first-born son, he was under a lot of pressure to become a successful professional.

By contrast, my mother was born in Timmins, Ontario, the perfect example of a tiny northern Ontario town. Despite being born in Canada, she grew up in an extremely Croatian household in a town where there was a strong Croatian community. She and her parents eventually moved down to Oakville and lived a relatively comfortable life.

Despite their vastly different upbringings, both of my parents ended up at U of T for their undergrads. My dad studied Commerce at Vic, and my mom studied History at Trin. Not only are my parents a great example of interracial dating, they are a great example of intercollegiate dating as well. Eventually, they met while working at RBC in Toronto and the rest is history.

I credit the city of Toronto for bringing two people with wildly different cultures and backgrounds together, and for that I will always be grateful. I often think about the circumstances necessary for my existence. If my dad had chosen to immigrate to the US instead of Canada, if my mom never moved down south, or if their parents were stricter about who they wanted them to marry, I might never have been born. But I shouldn’t sweat the details, regardless of the circumstances.

I arrived as a mixed-race kid in a world that had a lot of trouble reconciling that with an overwhelming presence of single-race relationships. It is probably for this reason that my identity was in flux for many years.

Half and half

One of the most relatable songs I’ve ever heard is Miguel’s “What’s Normal Anyway?” Miguel, of mixed Black and Latino heritage, describes the feeling so many mixed kids feel daily when he sings, “I never feel like I belong, I wanna feel like I belong.” Many mixed kids feel the tension between their multiple ethnic identities and often feel pressure to identify with one side more to solidify their identity it often seems much easier to wear one name tag instead of two. There is never a normal for us, only a constant changing of identity to ‘fit in.’

After reflecting on my biracial-ness, I find it interesting that for the vast majority of my life, I was defined by the half of me that was most foreign to the people I was hanging out with. In elementary school, since I was one of the few ethnic kids in a predominately white school, I was known to others as the ‘Asian’ kid. In high school, I searched for a group of friends that wouldn’t tokenize me for my ‘exoticness,’ and so I hung out with a group that was largely Asian. I ran into other issues here because I was considered pretty white, since I couldn’t speak Korean and couldn’t relate to a lot of their cultural traditions.

So, how did U of T help me embrace my mixed identity?

I know people like to complain about this place every chance they get, but truthfully, I have never felt more comfortable with my identity than in my two years here. Sure, maybe you can attribute this to a boost of self-confidence after those crippling, insecure teen years, but I believe that it’s the diversity of the U of T student body that has allowed me to feel the most confident in my skin I’ve ever felt.

There is something particularly unique about our school environment. I have met people from all over the world who speak multitudes of languages, practice different religions, and teach me new things every day. Perhaps it’s the demographics of the GTA, but I think it speaks to the inclusivity of the institution that such a diverse group of students want to attend this school.

Most importantly, I’ve met so many other mixed kids who can relate to everything I’ve just described. Unlike high school, the lack of cliques means your relationships aren’t defined by labels. People are more interested in what I’m studying or what I’m passionate about than my heritage or hometown. I feel like here, we care more about what people are than what people should be.

Of course, the ‘exotic’ comments will never truly stop, but it’s incredibly heartening to say that over the past two years, more people have told me my mixed ethnicity is ‘cool’ than ever before.

Op-ed: In living colour

Reflections on race, respect, and responsibility from the outgoing president of the Arts and Science Students’ Union

Op-ed: In living colour

Becoming president of the Arts and Science Students’ Union (ASSU) was a life changing experience. I got to work with an amazing group of people and work on some great projects; the skills I gained will stay with me for life. But, more importantly than anything else, I am leaving my position with a stronger understanding of how I fit in the world as a person of colour.

Growing up as a son of Sri Lankan immigrants in a fairly mixed community, I never really thought about race. I didn’t really see myself being treated differently from my peers. This bubble was shattered when I became president of the ASSU. I began to notice subtle things, from the way I was addressed, to criticisms of my personality, to double standards in how I was treated compared to others. At times, criticisms would be personal and tinged with words that speak to an individual’s character, not their work — ‘corrupt,’ ‘angry,’ ‘bully.’ Of course, I experienced this as a male person of colour — women of colour on this campus have had it even worse, and are constantly singled out.

Dealing with this can be disorienting and confusing. While you try to make sense of it all, your mental health takes a toll. There are few mental health supports for student representatives, and few of the supports that do exist are prepared to deal with the intersectionality of race and mental health. As a result, you are left to navigate it mostly alone, or with like-minded people who have been there.

After a while of dealing with seemingly unfair criticism, some people learn to just dismiss it all, especially if it comes from a student who is white. The effort and energy to go through each criticism and analyze it is far too taxing on people, so some choose to shut down and learn to see a lot of criticism — including valid criticism — as being a product of this racial double standard.

This is undoubtedly a bad thing, and harms dialogue on our campus. People of colour are not immune from criticism and should not be put on a pedestal. We are not asking for special treatment, just fair treatment. But this is what happens when the status quo is not challenged — it is not just harmful for people of colour but everyone involved.

It is difficult to verbalize these experiences. People may think you are pulling the race card or just looking for sympathy. After all, you signed up for a position that few students get the chance to hold. I’m aware that I have talked about race and student politics many times before in the past, and there are probably people who think I make everything about race. But it is important that we talk about it.   

It is especially crucial to have discussions about race when the people who treat people of colour like this probably don’t see themselves as racist. Many of these individuals probably have friends who are black or brown who don’t see them as racist, either.

Yet, acknowledging racial bias in student settings is not about individuals, but about systems that make people subconsciously enact this bias. Racism in student politics is paradoxical in that it is often invisible to the general student body, but painfully visible to those who have to experience it. The more we understand these systems and processes, the more we can take steps to tackle underlying experiences.

I learned a few things from my experience as ASSU president. I learned that, while this work is rewarding, it is also difficult, and the added sphere of being a person of colour can make the load feel even heavier.  It is necessary to take care of yourself and take time for yourself. I learned that you won’t be able to do everything you want, but just being able to hold this position is an accomplishment in itself, powerfully cognizant of the existence of people in colour spaces where we are typically underrepresented. Beyond everything, I learned that what I was feeling wasn’t necessarily new. It just took context after holding the position of president to understand that things I experienced growing up were indeed related to my identity as a person of colour.

Across campus, we have just elected new teams and new leaders — I hope the people of colour elected know that their experiences matter and that they should be able to talk about it. I also hope that other leaders and the rest of the student body respond by listening and re-analyzing their priorities and any problematic behaviour. It will take more than empty platitudes on privilege to fix problems of racism on campus; what we need is genuine dialogue, and I hope our campus is prepared to have that conversation. 

Abdullah Shihipar is the outgoing president of the Arts and Science Students’ Union.

Strength in numbers

Race-related data collection is a step in the right direction

Strength in numbers

This November, students on campuses across North America protested in solidarity with Black students who had been targets of racism at universities in the United States. These students presented a set of demands to their respective schools in order to address systemic racism. At U of T, the Black Liberation Collective asked the administration to commit to increasing Black faculty and student representation in order to better reflect Toronto’s population. 

Commendably, our administration has made a small stride in education equity by deciding to collect race-related data on campus. While the exact commitments are unclear at this moment, the broader policy of tracking quantitative information about racial representation in our faculty and student populace is a very welcome step in achieving educational equity.   

As a person of colour, I am acutely aware of the underrepresentation of racialized faculty and students. Some have the privilege of not seeing this reality. It can take less than a semester of classes for someone to note that we have a low number of Black and other racialized students in leadership positions. Without statistical data, however, students have long had trouble proving the problem exists. The collection of race-related data can help bolster causes for equity by simply providing evidence of an issue that students know anecdotally to be true.

It is not hard to find instances in which similar initiatives provided an impetus for positive social change. Back in 2004, for instance, the Toronto District School Board  — the largest school board in Canada — acknowledged the benefits of a census similar to the one our university may implement. They accounted for the race and socio-economic backgrounds of their students in order to  “identify and eliminate systemic barriers to student achievement.” With the data collected, the TDSB was able to quantify a considerable gap between economically marginalized and racialized students. With this information, a problem was identified and a solution more easily and meaningfully created. The TDSB was able to establish the Model Schools for Inner Cities initiative, which seeks to close “the opportunity gap to support equitable outcomes for all students.” 

For those who question the necessity of increasing diversity in university classrooms, it is important to remember several things. First, our society defines itself by principles of equality — as a subset of this, it is important for all persons to have the equal opportunity to attend post-secondary institutions, and it is thus our responsibility to actively investigate barriers that unfairly prevent certain students from succeeding.

Second, while the call to begin this type of census was brought on by students in the Black community, there are universal benefits to solving the problem of underrepresentation. From an equity perspective, diversity means there will be challenges to mainstream narratives, and thus a more wholesome understanding of society. In fact, in 2015, The Atlantic published an article that argued non-white educators “can help disrupt what are often one-sided portrayals of the world and offer invaluable insight to students from different backgrounds.” Comparably, a 2014 Scientific American article extensively traced how “[d]ecades of research by organizational scientists, psychologists, sociologists, economists and demographers” have shown how socially diverse groups enhance innovation and creativity. 

Lastly, race-related data collection at U of T is also an important symbol of administrative accountability. While the university has not yet released the specifics of this initiative, it is clear they are listening to students and engaging in dialogue with them. In doing so, our school is recognizing the legitimacy of student voices — significantly, those that have been historically marginalized by educational institutions — and reaffirming the importance of diversity. We should thus be cautiously optimistic about how this data will serve as a catalyst to create programming that works towards increasing the participation of all visible minorities, in faculty and within undergraduate and graduate student populations.

Milen Melles is a first-year student at Victoria College studying humanities.

Canadian identity and the refugee crisis

Rhetoric of “relative tolerance” hinders meaningful dialogue on racism

Canadian identity and the refugee crisis

The Canadian media has emphasized our country’s warm welcome of Syrian refugees, as well as our rejection of the fear and bigotry that characterize conversations about refugees elsewhere in the world. In a similar vein, after the pepper spray attack on Syrian refugees during a welcome event in Vancouver earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau responded on social media: “This isn’t who we are – and doesn’t reflect the warm welcome Canadians have offered.” His remarks show the way in which the discussion of refugees has been dominated, sometimes unhelpfully, by the language of Canadian patriotism.

This rhetoric does have value, especially in affirming newcomers’ sense of safety and belonging as they start their lives in Canada. A man who was hit in the pepper spray attack, Youssef Ahmad Al-Suleiman, told The Globe and Mail that, to refugees leaving behind political instability in their home countries, Trudeau’s clear and immediate condemnation of the violence is a meaningful gesture. Still, the public response to the Vancouver attack, which mirrors Trudeau’s comments leaves little room for exploring nuanced approaches to racism and Islamophobia in Canada.

It is comforting but not entirely accurate to claim that exclusionary violence “isn’t who we are” as a nation. Compassion and respect cannot be called inherently Canadian qualities any more than intolerance can. While Canada ha stated a commitment to advancing human rights, Canada’s history is marred by the legacies of Japanese internment camps, immigrant exclusion acts, and the residential school system, among other institutions of racial discrimination.

If the majority of Canadians today value compassion toward and acceptance of refugees, it is not because of the example of our national history, but in spite of it. Recent violence motivated by racism and Islamophobia, although committed by a minority of Canadians, shows that bigotry is still alive and well in Canada, often very close to home, whether or not we represent bigoted acts as Canadian, or acknowledge their place in Canadian history.

In the last few months alone, a mosque was set on fire in Peterborough; several incidents were reported in the Greater Toronto Area of Muslim women being harassed or assaulted in public places; Muslims were asked whether they were sorry for the Paris attacks; and a Muslim U of T student was spat on and harassed outside Robarts. This is to say nothing of smaller-scale acts of bigotry that often go unnoticed or are trivialized in classrooms, online comment sections, and other daily interactions, which Iris Robin noted in The Varsity last week. 

Characterizing inclusion and compassion as essentially and even uniquely Canadian qualities is of limited value in uncovering the roots of racism in Canada and reducing violence and bigotry in the future. We have no hope of addressing the problem if we cannot acknowledge it first.

By writing off violence against refugees and racialized people as isolated incidents, and not representative of Canada as a whole, we risk minimizing the real threat of violence many Canadians face on a daily basis. If we are committed to making our campus and our wider communities safe and welcoming to everyone, refugees or otherwise, then we must commit to conversations about racism and bigotry that move beyond simple characterizations of Canada as an almost universally accepting place. 

Language matters; let us be clear, direct, and honest in articulating the values and commitments we hold above all else. We welcome refugees into our communities today not because it is the Canadian thing to do, but because it is right. In the same way, we must condemn attacks against refugees not because these acts are un-Canadian, but because they harm real people, reduce refugees’ humanity, and violate our shared commitment to building a just and equitable world.

Rusaba Alam is a third-year student at Victoria College studying English.