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BEYOND LOCAL: Federal government declares Thunder Bay a racism hotspot

Thunder Bay MP Patty Hajdu welcomes a new anti-racism ad campaign
Patty Hajdu
Patty Hajdu is the federal minister of health and MP for Thunder Bay - Superior North (TBNewswatch file)

THUNDER BAY — The federal government has Thunder Bay in mind as it plans the rollout of a national ad campaign designed to make white Canadians more aware of systemic racism.

The Department of Canadian Heritage will spend $3.3 million on the marketing effort which it says will target "non-racialized middle-aged adults," defined as people between 30 and 44.

A notice posted on a government website breaks down the target group further to include members of this demographic living in what it describes as racism hotspots, and gives Thunder Bay and four other cities as specific examples.

Canadian Heritage defines racism hotspots as the regions with the highest number of police-reported hate crimes in Canada.

In 2019 – the last year for which Statistics Canada has compiled data – Thunder Bay had the 12th highest rate of reported hate crimes (5.6 cases per 100,000 people) among 35 census metropolitan areas.

However, the city topped the list in 2015 and again in 2017.

The government says the planned ad campaign is part of a three-year anti-racism strategy launched in 2019, when it allocated $45 million to combat anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, and anti-Asian racism and discrimination, as well as Islamophobia and antisemitism.

A Heritage Canada spokesperson told TBNewswatch its recently-posted request for proposals has three objectives:

  • increase awareness and understanding of the systemic racial barriers that racialized communities, religious minorities and Indigenous peoples face daily
  • change attitudes and behaviours regarding racism and discrimination
  • mobilize citizens to re-embrace values of inclusion and diversity

The spokesperson said the campaign will be based on regional and demographic needs and will be developed with input from impacted communities.

Thunder Bay-Superior North MP and Minister of Health Patty Hajdu welcomed the announcement.

She said when federal departments "choose targeted areas like this, they use data. And we know that Thunder Bay has one of the highest rates of reported hate crime in the country."

Hajdu said the City of Thunder Bay has done a lot to combat racism in the community, but the government's campaign will amplify that work.

"Clearly, the numbers indicate that many people experience racism in our community, and that's not OK." 

She added there's a huge role for everyone to play to bring down the incidence of racism in Thunder Bay.

Hajdu said it's important to give people an opportunity to reflect on their own role in confronting the issue, and the federal program will provide Canadians with "tools they can use so when they see racism they can take action."

The campaign is expected to roll out between September 2021 and March 2022.

– TBNewswatch

Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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