The United Way along with 27 other organizations has started a coalition called ‘United for All’. The group, which includes the City of Ottawa, United Way East Ontario, Ottawa Police Service, and several other organizations, was created to help come up with new ways to overcome hate and violence within the city.
“We know members of our communities face Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia, and other forms of hate,” says Yasir Naqvi, the CEO of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and a member of the coalition, “We’re here today to show that we are taking a unified approach to help address these issues.”
The collaboration came about after a spike in hate crimes and hate speech aimed at religious and cultural groups. According to Statistics Canada, police-reported hate-crimes in Canada jumped by 47 percent in 2017. That same year, Ottawa ranked among the top 10 cities with highest reported hate crime rates in the country.
The coalition plans to work together to tackle issues like racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, violence against women and others. It plans to do this by developing a city-wide plan that addresses the root causes of hate and violence to ensure Ottawa remains a welcoming city. To support their initiatives, the group will need to secure both public and private funding.
As the groups first major milestone, Mayor Jim Watson and the City of Ottawa’s leadership signed the Strong Cities Network (SCN) agreement on Friday at City Hall, making the group the largest coalition of organizations to join the movement. Launched in September 2015, the SCN builds collaboration between mayors, political groups and frontline agencies so they may tackle extremism around the world. Being a member will allow the City and ‘United for All’ to access research data, capacity-building supports, learning resources and a training hub.
For Rawlson King, city councillor for the Rideau-Rockcliffe ward, this was a necessary step in the right direction.
“As a municipality and a coalition, we’re coming together to show that all forms of hate are unacceptable. 'United for All’ is a call to action; together we will shine a light on violence and hate, and to find a better path forward for our community,” he says.