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LETTER: Standing together against hatred

Rebecca French lights a candle at the Stronger than Hate vigil in Bannerman Park in St. John’s on Monday night.
Rebecca French lights a candle at the Stronger than Hate vigil in Bannerman Park in St. John’s last month. - Juanita Mercer

We are at a loss for words as we mourn with the Jewish community in Pittsburgh. But as painful as it is — now more than ever – we urge your readership that loving, generous and peace-inspiring ideas need to be shared in Newfoundland and Labrador.

When, on Oct. 27, a gunman slaughtered 11 Jewish seniors during their morning services in Pittsburgh, Canadians could not escape the painful familiarity of the scene — we received the news with a horrifying dose of déjà vu.

The massacre in Pittsburgh bears an uneasy resemblance to a recent act of terror incited against a minority religious group in our own country — one which took place in a mosque in Quebec City on Jan. 29, 2017. In response, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians stood together to make a human shield around the An-Noor Mosque in St. John’s. On Oct. 29, we shared our sorrow, solidarity and hope with the St. John’s Jewish community at a small vigil in Bannerman Park organized by Hillel Atlantic Canada. These are moments of determination of spirit, solidarity and love that we need in our community now.

Today, as members of the Anti-Racism Coalition of NL (ARC-NL) and the Addressing Islamophobia in NL Project, we would like to add our voices to the growing chorus of people in our province, who feel that we cannot, any longer, simply cross our fingers and hope that things will not get worse, or that this sort of violence will not happen here.

We must move together, as a community of communities, to ensure that human dignity, social justice and peace is at the centre of our everyday lives. We see how inhumane policies in Quebec and in Ontario embolden a fascist, white nationalist movement in Canada deliberately undermining the safety of Jews, people of colour, Muslims, LGBTQ2S+ and Indigenous people in real and tangible ways. We will not tolerate this in Newfoundland and Labrador. Peace and prosperity go hand in hand in our province. Divided we fall — and fall hard. We are organizing and turning our eyes on our own federal and provincial elections on the horizon in 2019.

Hatred that targets and endangers minoritized and marginalized groups will not be tolerated in our province.

The growing number of hate-crimes and assaults on minorities and immigrants and refugees can only be countered by speaking up, and by resisting hate in all its forms. And this resistance must be one that is united against all forms of hate and fascism: including racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Native, anti-Black, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, and xenophobia. This resistance to hate must be intersectional, and work against all forms of sexist, classist, sanist, ageist, disablist, homophobic and transphobic discrimination, oppression and exploitation. Solidarity is not a mere expression of compassion — we acknowledge the need to dismantle initiatives that both embolden corrosive and divisive impulses in our communities and allow manifestations of hate to spread. We know that there is much work to be done in our schools, in our community centres, in our sports leagues and around our dinner tables. In Newfoundland and Labrador, we are diverse and we will be unified against hatred. We will continue to find new ways to come together.

Like the residents of Pittsburgh, we say loud and clear: Hatred — you are not welcome here. In Newfoundland and Labrador, we will support politicians who create compassionate, democratic policies that recognize the dignity of all of us and stand up against inhumane polices that foster hate. We will work together to make Newfoundland and Labrador a lighthouse that fosters and expresses openness and kindness so that our communities and all of us flourish in the ways that matter most.

Members of the Antiracism Coalition of Newfoundland and Labrador (ARC-NL) and Addressing Islamophobia in Newfoundland and Labrador (AI-NL)

St. John’s

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