Gabriel Miller: Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice: Islamophobia and measures to address the fears of Canada’s Muslim community

June 14, 2024
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As the national voice of Canadian universities at home and abroad, Universities Canada is committed to advancing higher education, research and innovation to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. 

We unequivocally condemn Islamophobia, anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian hate and all forms of racism and discrimination. The studies undertaken by the Justice Committee over the last two months have helped shed light on deeply troubling incidents of hate and racism that have recently occurred across Canada. 

Islamophobic, antisemitic, anti-Arab and anti-Palestinian actions and rhetoric on campus have threatened the physical and emotional safety of students and faculty. These acts have no place on our campuses or in our communities. We are grateful to the students, faculty members, staff and guests who have stepped forward to share with the committee their personal experiences with hate on and off campus. The safety of our students, faculty members and staff is our most important priority and we have increased our efforts to help our members combat hate and racism on campus by: 

  1. Working with Public Safety and the RCMP to help ensure the physical safety of students, staff and faculty across Canada. Preventing discrimination and the proliferation of hate.  
  2. Universities Canada is working with members to strengthen their policies and procedures, including DEI policies.  
  3. Education and sharing of best practices when it comes to safety, discrimination and fostering a respectful environment.  

Universities Canada has been collaborating with the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, Kamal Khera; Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc; Deputy Minister Shawn Tupper; Amira Elghawaby, Canada’s Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia; and the National Council of Canadian Muslims. 

We have heard and are supportive of the calls and concrete recommendations brought to this committee, including the adoption of the recommendations in the Senate report “Combatting Hate: Islamophobia and its impact on Muslims in Canada.”  

Learning on a safe, supportive campus free from harassment, intimidation or fear for one’s safety is critical for students and for the integrity of our institutions. The academic environment should foster freedom of expression and with that comes the freedom to confront opinions or statements we may find misguided or offensive. However, students must feel secure attending university, to learn, to take part in constructive dialogue and to participate fully in campus life. 

Hate, discrimination and racist violence affects our whole society and demands a national, whole-of-government response. Islamophobia, antisemitism, racism and hatred are not partisan issues either and I hope members will continue to approach this study and the resulting report with a multipartisan approach. 

Universities Canada will continue to work with our elected leaders, experts, community organizations and the academic sector to protect Canadian students from hate and defend the fundamental values of a just, democratic societythe freedom to learn, challenge and explore.  

Sincerely, 

Gabriel Miller
President & CEO, Universities Canada

 

About Universities Canada
Universities Canada is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, advancing higher education, research and innovation for the benefit of all Canadians.

Media contact:

Lisa Wallace
Assistant Director, Communications
Universities Canada
[email protected]

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