A few weeks ago, Toronto teacher Nigel Barriffe said he was talking to a young black colleague who had walked into a classroom after lunch and etched a racist remark and a swastika on a school locker.
“We know that many of our Jewish students and families have thrown racial slurs at them. We know that our Muslim students and families have been attacked for years,” Barriffe said on Wednesday.
Barriffe and members of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network told a news conference about scenarios detailed in a new online booklet that aims to teach parents, teachers and students how to identify and combat various forms of hate in the classroom and online. .
The booklet was created by the network, a group that monitors hate groups and investigates extremism in the country. It includes examples from educators and community members across Canada and provides steps for supporting impressionable children.
It describes the ways in which a parent or teacher can intervene when they believe a student is being radicalized by a hate group. It also includes workshops and defines various extremist ideologies.
Elizabeth Simons, deputy director of the network, said the scenarios increase in severity as you scroll through the document.
“Everything in the toolkit are real examples we found,” she said.
“You start with anonymous hate promotion so that could be graffiti, that could be the swastika on the desk. You don’t know who’s behind it, but it happens and you have to deal with it.”
“Then it escalates all the way to overt (hate groups that recruit and) organize students within the school community and outside the school community.”
The federal government is spending $35 million on 175 anti-racism projects across the country, including the booklet.
Anti-hate group @antihateca launches online booklet to combat hate among young people. #AntiHate
Bernie Farber, president of the network, said hate crimes involving children and adults have skyrocketed and that silence is no longer an option.
He said there have been recent hate attacks involving young people, including the beating of a student from Black Edmonton, allegedly by seven other students shouting racist remarks. There have also been numerous cases of students distributing hate-promoting flyers.
“I had a meeting today with the York Region School Board (in Ontario) who informed me that racist incidents have risen to levels they have not seen before,” said Farber.
“In the past year, flags have been proudly stolen from school buildings and burned three times, the last of which occurred just a few weeks ago in Windsor, Ontario. Then there are the children who marched across the playground in North Bay, Ontario, shouting, ‘Hail! Hitler!'”
“There are too many stories about swastikas in high schools to count.”
Ahmed Hussen, the federal minister for diversity and inclusion, said the booklet is available online for free and has been distributed to some schools that have held workshops on racism.
“Inclusion is a choice we have to make and inclusion is something we have to fight for every day,” said Hussen.
“As much as we as parents would like to, we can’t shield our children from everything. But we can give them the tools to make the right decisions when they respond to real-life situations, both in person and online.”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on June 29, 2022.
This story was made possible with financial support from the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.