Nunavut ministers denounce Islamophobia after suspected hate crime in London, Ont.

‘The Muslim community is a cherished and valued part of our territory,’ says George Hickes

The Iqaluit Masjid, the only mosque in Nunavut, opened its doors in 2016. (File photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By Mélanie Ritchot

Nunavut ministers George Hickes and Lorne Kusugak condemned Islamophobia in the legislature on Wednesday and expressed support for the territory’s Muslim population following a suspected hate crime in London, Ont.

“The Muslim community is a cherished and valued part of our territory,” said Hickes, the MLA representing Iqaluit-Tasiluk — the riding with Nunavut’s only mosque, the Iqaluit Masjid.

On June 6, a truck slammed into a family of five who were out for an evening walk in London, killing a grandmother, mother, father and their 15-year-old daughter, and injuring a nine-year-old boy — the only survivor of the attack.

The 20-year-old driver, who drove away from the scene, has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

On Monday, London police said they believe it was a “planned, premeditated” attack on the family because of their Muslim faith.

Hickes said the tragedy reminds Nunavummiut to “practise our societal values in making members of our Muslim and Islamic faith community feel welcome, included, supported, and most of all, safe in our territory.”

“Intolerance, racism, and hate have no place in Nunavut,” he said.

Hickes spoke about the ways the Islamic Society of Nunavut has contributed to the community, including volunteerism and running the Arctic Food Bank program.

“These acts of service embody the same societal values that we share as Inuit,” Hickes said.

He said these values include Inuuqatigiitsiarniq (respecting others, relationships and caring for people), Tunnganarniq (fostering good spirits by being open, welcoming and inclusive) and Pijitsirniq (serving and providing for family and community).

“To the Muslim community in London and right here at home in Iqaluit and Nunavut, know that we stand with you,” Hickes said. “You belong here, hate does not.”

Lorne Kusugak, the MLA for Rankin Inlet South, also spoke about the lives lost.

“They didn’t do anything to deserve it,” Kusugak said. “Now there is going to be a young boy without his parents or his sister.”

Kusugak denounced hate in Nunavut.

“Our territory is vast, but our population is tiny,” he said. “Instead of hating people because of their colour, their language, religion, or race, or sexual orientation, we should be celebrating each other’s differences.

The Muslim population in Iqaluit is upwards of 100 people, according to the Iqaluit Masjid’s Facebook Page, while the capital city’s population is about 8,000.

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(25) Comments:

  1. Posted by Xeno on

    “Intolerance, racism, and hate have no place in Nunavut…”

    And yet they are everywhere

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  2. Posted by I Am Intolerant on

    I will start this off by saying that what happened is horrific and wrong. Such unnecessary violence is not acceptable.
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    However, I don’t understand how we’ve come to live in a society where I cannot judge somebody by what they believe. I will not judge someone based on their race or sex because those are things that you do not choose, however I will judge someone on the fact that they choose to believe there’s a fairy man in the sky or existing beyond space and time.
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    Every religious person believes that “their” religion is the correct one, yet how many religious people actually chose their religion? Very few, most were born to parents that have indoctrinated them into the religion that their parents indoctrinated them into. Or, as is the case with many Indigenous people, they were previously indoctrinated by colonists, and now pass it onto their children. It’s terrible, and I will not support it.
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    If I see you with a big cross hanging from your rear view mirror, or I see you wearing a hijab, or with uncut hair because it’s god’s gift, or I see you wearing a yarmulke, then yes I am going to judge you and think that you’re silly.
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    What about you? Do you not judge people that believe in Wicca? What about people that believe in Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades? You do not judge them? They’re no different.

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    • Posted by anon on

      This comment is unhelpful and does not contribute any value to the conversation and should be modded out.

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      • Posted by No Moniker on

        Not true, it does contribute value, even if you don’t like it.

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    • Posted by Brutal honesty on

      I judge people who pick awful times to get on their high horse just because they self label themselves as people who always “say it like it is” when no one asked them to.

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    • Posted by iThink on

      It’s critical that we to try to distinguish between people and their beliefs. So when you say you think it should be acceptable to judge a person by their beliefs, I would caution against judging the person. And this will take work, because we naturally do judge people this way, regardless of whether that is the right or wrong thing to do.

      That said, I agree it is fair to hold any kind of idea and belief up to the light and those can and should be judged. In fact doing so is a critical skill as there are few things more dangerous than a beliefs that leads to destructive behavior; which is to say ideas that lead to unnecessary suffering. This goes in many directions. The beliefs of the perpetrator of this horrible crime are obviously an example as well. Though here we also have to grapple with the realm of mental illness.

      As for whether this comment should be removed or should stand. In my opinion it should stand. I agree the timing seems distasteful, but conversations like this are unusual on here, as Nunatsiaq rarely allows this (I’m more than a little surprised to see this up, and even a little impressed). Let’s talk about this issue. It is important that we do.

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      • Posted by I Am Intolerant on

        To iThink: And I agree with you that we should hold any idea/belief up to the light and be able to make judgement, but I think it’s fair to take it further and judge the people themselves. We cannot as a society go through life not making judgements on other people based on what they believe.
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        I do feel sympathy for religious people, because it is hard to let go of something that you were wholly raised into, but as adults these people do not hold their own ideas up to the light to judge, and that is why I judge them.

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        • Posted by iThink on

          Full disclosure, when I discover that a person holds religious beliefs, I invariably think they are a less intelligent individual. I doubt I am alone in this and suspect religious people might do the same in return; believing that god had not “chosen” or “called” me, or that I was flawed in some way for rejecting the obvious truth.

          It is difficult to do, but I strongly believe that if we want to succeed we need to see and act beyond this.

          People who are convinced of the truth of any idea and especially religion, which is often thrust on us as children as you mentioned, is that there was little real choice in the decision to believe. That you see the world through a more critical lens and feel comfortable repudiating Zeus, Thor, the Bible and the Koran is a both good luck and your cultural inheritance. If we were having this conversation prior to the enlightenment, for example, the chances are neither of us would dream of announcing our atheism, let alone actually being one.

          A major problem with your stance, as I see it, is that the trajectory we put ourselves on when we open the door to judging individuals, and not just their bad ideas—which are fair game—is that we are giving ourselves to the same kind of fundamentalism we find repulsive, even dangerous, about religious belief itself.

          Let’s be careful how we navigate this, we don’t want to become the thing we are trying to destroy.

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  3. Posted by Fact Checker on

    So up to this point islamophobia was not condemned.

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  4. Posted by Ken on

    There’s is a growing problem in Canada with far right extremism, spreading hate and fear, lies and aggression towards people they don’t agree with.

    We have seen many attacks over the years, many innocent people murdered.

    These home grown terrorists continue to spread their hate on social media, reaching out for support for their hate and lies.

    These groups need to be dealt with and people need to see them for what they are, terrorists, hate groups.

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    • Posted by Electrolyte on

      I’m interested in learning more about these groups, can you name the ones you mentioned? I’m especially interested in the group involved with this particular crime. Thanks in advance!

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      • Posted by Ken on

        Sure! It’s not too difficult to trace back in Canadian history the extremist right wing problem but for some reason the media does not like to report on it so much.
        Groups like “The sons of freedom Doukhobors, Christian Identity movement, Odinism or Ásatrú, Aryan Guard, Canadian Association of Free Expression, Nationalist Party of Canada, Western European Bloodline, Proud Boys, there’s just too many to list but I think you get the picture,
        It’s not difficult to do a search and see a huge list of these right wing extremists and the terrorist act they have done, there are some who believe it’s not a problem but I think they just have their heads buried in the sand, it’s a huge problem in Canada, we have seen the shootings and vehicles used to kill innocent citizens of Canada.

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        • Posted by Optical Delusion on

          Ken, these are small groups with marginal size and influence. They inhabit small niches on the fringe of our political culture. Granted, they have an allure for people who are socially disaffected, similar to how ISIS was able to draw in kids from affluent western homes. But do they represent “a huge problem” in Canada? I’m not as sure.

          I’m curious why you think the media has an aversion to talking about them? Most of the major media outlets in our country are left leaning, which makes me suspect they don’t get much press because there isn’t that much going on with them.

          Here’s a question for you. How many of the outbursts of violence in our society that have target minorities have come from organized right-wing movements? Perhaps you can name the group was behind this horrible act in London?

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          • Posted by Ken on

            There is some research done on the history and rise of right wing extremism in Canada and around the world, in some of those research it should that governments, media fail to acknowledge the sovereignty and seriousness of the crimes and fail to call it terrorism and fail to call out the right wing extremists.
            It seems to go against the narrative of the western society or the European and its descendants beliefs or understanding.
            It’s all very interesting how a act of violence by one group can be highlighted as terrorism and yet a similar act done by another group is minimized as a singular act by a individual and not based on their ties to a certain group or belief.
            The mosque shootings for example and other acts of crime. When you see most of the hate crimes done in Canada and other western nations it comes from people associated to one of these groups. Now with social media this seems to be increasing and more hate and acts of violence happening.
            You can find some research done on the extremists right wing online.

            https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263506329_Right-Wing_Extremism_in_Canada

            https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-25169-7

            Unfortunately some of these research documents aren’t free, but there are some information available.

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            • Posted by Optical Delusion on

              None of these documents are even readable without a subscription, Ken.. come on. We can’t even know what they say, which leads me think you haven’t even read them and also have no clue what they say. This is an unbelievably weak tactic.

              You’re trying to conjure a boogeyman here as a serious and growing existential threat lurking under the bed. As primates this appeals to minds evolved to search out threats. Yet, I would suggest that the extent of the threat is, as most good myths are, based on an admixture of reality, fear and fantasy.

              Give us one good link or data point to support anything you have said here, please. And I also notice you didn’t answer my question: name the group was behind this horrible act in London? (which, incidentally, has been labelled an act of terrorism)

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              • Posted by Ken on

                Will I don’t think it matters what I put in front of you as you will try to dismiss it, like I said it’s not difficult to do a search and find some research on the growing problem of right wing extremism and it’s negative impact on Canada.
                https://cdainstitute.ca/dur-e-aden-addressing-the-growing-threat-of-right-wing-extremism-in-canada/

                https://www.tsas.ca/publications/right-wing-extremism-in-canada/

                https://www.isdglobal.org/isd-publications/canada-online/

                If you are serious about finding and learning more about the serious problem with right wing extremists you can find them online and like I said earlier some unfortunately are not free.

                What I am unclear of is why you perceive that there is no issues or problems with the growing trend of right wing extremism in Canada and other countries such as the US and Europe?

                The terrorist attack in London is still a ongoing investigation but it points to a hate crime. Who else would attack and kill a random family of colour? I am sure we will hear more as the investigation continues.

                Now to turn this around to you, can you provide us with research links that shows we do not have a right wing extremists problem in Canada? I would love to see any as you have been quite expressive in trying to dismiss the growing trend of right wing extremism.

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                • Posted by The Proof of Nothing on

                  Not to disagree with your assertion that there is a growing problem of right wing extremism, but you can’t ask somebody to “provide us with research links that shows we do not have a right wing extremists problem in Canada?”.
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                  When you’re asserting something exists, the onus is on you to prove it. You cannot prove that something does not exist. Can you provide us with research links that show we do not have a growing terrorist seagull population in Canada? No you cannot. Does that mean that we do? No it does not.
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                  This is like religious people telling atheists to prove that there is no god. It doesn’t work that way, if you’re claiming that a god exists, the onus is on you to prove it. Which they can’t.

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                  • Posted by Ken on

                    We see a lot more hate, more violence, these right wing extremists are on social media trying to spread their hate.
                    It is clear as day, all these research done to show the growing trend of right wing extremism and yet you cannot see it or choose not to see it, if you do not believe the research, news, what has been going on especially in the last five years then maybe that is on you.
                    Do you not see the raise in hate groups? The violence that occurred because the person is different or has different beliefs and background.
                    The discussion is starting to grow about the raise of right wing extremism and we will be hearing more about it, maybe we will hear from you also trying to diminish it? Hopefully not contribute in spreading hate.

                • Posted by Optical Delusion on

                  Ken I am not denying there are right wing groups and that they are a problem, what I am taking issue with is the idea that it is a huge problem in Canada as you said. I think that is an exaggeration.

                  I’m curious what you think about the rise of leftist violence? Talk about a media blind spot, it doesn’t get much worse than that.

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                  • Posted by Ken on

                    We can agree to disagree, all the research shows a growing trend and it is a problem here in Canada, US, Europe and other places.
                    I haven’t heard of any left wing groups committing terrorist acts, shootings and murder. It doesn’t seem to be as many groups set up as the right wing extremists, but you can’t deny that there is more hate being spewed on social media, I agree it’s from all sides but what I see is more coming from the far right.

      • Posted by Social Media Warrior on

        Check out Iqaluit Rant and Rave on Facebook. There is more then enough racism, hatred and death threats to keep you busy for days. Iqaluit’s only slice social media fascists’.

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  5. Posted by Frank Sterle Jr. on

    As strange as it may have sounded to some, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent emphatic suggestion that “the next time you see a woman in a hijab or a family out for a stroll, give them a smile,” is actually a very healthy yet relatively effortless response by caring individuals toward ALL acts of targeted hate crimes.

    I decided to do just that as a rebellious response to the anticipated acts of anti-Muslim hate that soon followed Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election victory. Anti-Trump demonstrators’ catchy slogan was “Love Trumps Hate”. While I’m not much for the ‘love’ part, I would do the next best thing by offering a smile.

    But when offering a smile, one should do so promptly. In my first attempt, with a passing woman wearing a Muslim head scarf, I hesitated long enough (likely for fear of possibly offending her modesty) for her to catch my blank stare and quickly look away. Bitterly ironic, the opposite of my intended friendly gesture was therefor likely perceived by her.

    I made sure to not repeat the mistake, however, as I passed a middle-aged Black woman along the sidewalk. To me, she had a lined expression of one who’d endured a hard life. I gave her a smile, and her seemingly tired face lit up with her own smile, as though mine was the last thing she’d expected to receive. Since then, we always greet one another and even converse while awaiting the bus.

    In today’s climate of bigotry, I feel it’s not enough to just not think/act hateful; we all also need to display kindness, perhaps through a sincere smile.

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  6. Posted by boris pasternak on

    phobia to your own has been in nunavut as long as I can recall. how about equalization all up here? equality is all I want; in our housing needs which is still just little above third world, treatment is from Boer war era, old boris is still treated as second class, yes gn senior staff, you have to admit it to correct it ..treatment of inuit has not change from area administrator days if you can recall what this government position was for and whom it with administer too with hands.

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  7. Posted by Ball of Yarn on

    “In today’s climate of bigotry” Frank Sterle opines above…

    Is there really a greater climate of bigotry today than ever, greater than 20 years ago, 10 years ago? Social media has definitely enhanced this perception, and it has also facilitated greater communication between people of shared interests around the globe. Yet, i’m not sure how that actually translates into the real world.

    Here is what I suspect. Partly, at least, the current moral panic (which Frank and Ken have both partaken above to different extents) around the proliferation of racism must be understood in the context of an emerging multibillion dollar industry centered on “anti-racism,” or as some call it DIE (diversity, inclusion and equity industry, itself estimated to be worth 8 billion a year). It is in the interests of this movement to ensure that we see racism everywhere, or at least to convince us, even if we don’t see it, that yes, it really is lurking in every nook, cranny and corner of the known universe.

    Unfortunately, DIE initiatives not only don’t work, they are often counterproductive. But that’s no worry, by enhancing the conditions it was meant to remedy it can, at least, justify its own existence… perhaps a 2.0 version will soon be on the horizon.

    My point, consider the possibility that your perception that racism is worse than ever is the product of forces that have an interest in you believing that is true, and that these force are abetted by well meaning media and even academics who are tripping over themselves to line up on the right side of history.

    Perhaps there’s more than a little gaslighting going on.

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