A group of Hamilton organizations have begun developing a platform to track and address Hamilton’s high rate of hate crimes per capita
C/O Sergey Zolkin
In 2019, Hamilton had the highest number of police-reported hate crimes per capita in Canada at 17.1 per 100,000 people. The national rate, in comparison, was 4.9 out of 100,000. Further, many have argued that Hamilton hasn’t done enough to address its high rate of hate crimes.
In response to this, a variety of Hamilton organizations are in the process of developing a platform to report hate crimes online. Associate Professor in the McMaster University School of Social Work, Ameil Joseph, the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion, Spectrum Hamilton and McMaster’s office of community engagement are all involved in the creation of this platform.
Kojo Damptey, executive director of the HCCI, noted that the main purposes of the online platform are to accurately track the number of hate crimes in Hamilton and to offer support and resources to those who are victims of hate.
“When we’re talking about hate crimes in Canada, the only numbers that are available are what police departments submit to stats Canada. That doesn’t give us an accurate picture of all the hate crimes and hate incidents that are happening . . . By having this community[-based], independent platform, it will give us a better sense of what’s happening in the community and how we can address this issue of hate,” said Damptey.
According to Sashaina Singh, project coordinator for McMaster’s office of community engagement, the project is still in the research phase and focus groups are currently being conducted.
“Students are doing focus groups with marginalized communities in Hamilton to find out what they’d like to see in the platform, if they would use it, why they would use it, how they would use it, how the data would be used,” Singh explained.
Damptey noted that one major benefit of an online platform is that it allows victims of hate to report incidents in an immediate fashion. However, Damptey added, this is only true for individuals with smartphones or access to the internet.
Given that an online platform has both benefits and drawbacks, Damptey explained that there are still many aspects of this initiative that have yet to be decided.
Singh explained that more decisions about the platform will be made once the research phase is concluded. According to Singh, the ongoing research will guide important decisions about the online platform, such as where it will be housed, what it will be used for and how it will be accessed.
“Hopefully, at the end of the focus groups, we will be able to have a broad [selection] of different options and resources for people,” said Damptey.
“Hamilton is pretty unique and well-positioned to learn from our super active and vocal communities [about] what might work best here, and it’s nice to see the energy and the support,” said Singh.
Singh added that she hopes the platform will help all members of the Hamilton community, including McMaster students and faculty.
“The most important thing is making sure that people that experience [hate have access to] resources and support,” Damptey emphasized.