For the first time in five years, the number of police-reported hate crimes fell in Canada, a statistic experts warn may not paint an accurate picture of the discrimination many face.
Following a 47 per cent increase in 2017, the number of reported hate crimes in Canada was down 13 per cent in 2018, from 2,073 incidents to 1,798, according to crime data released by Statistics Canada Monday.
The number of hate crimes targeting Muslims fell 50 per cent nationwide after spiking in 2017. However, hate crimes targeting the Jewish population fell just four per cent year-over-year, accounting for 19 per cent of hate crimes in 2018.
But experts warn that these statistics may not paint an accurate picture of discrimination in Canada, citing methodological flaws and incidents of unreported crimes.
“Today's numbers may indicate hate crimes declined [between] 2017 and 2018, which would be very welcome news. However, we have to also be skeptical of the data given that police-reported hate crime statistics have many serious methodological flaws, which we highlighted last Thursday,” read a tweet from the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.
Today's numbers may indicate hate crimes declined b/w 2017 and 2018, which would be very welcome news. However, we have to also be skeptical of the data given that police-reported hate crime statistics have many serious methodological flaws, which we highlighted last Thursday.— Canadian Anti-Hate Network (@antihateca) July 22, 2019
In a blog post published before the Statistics Canada data was published, the organization called on the government to expand upon and repeat the General Social Survey portion on victimization every year.
The survey, which is currently repeated every five years, allows Canadians to self-report incidents of hate crimes that were not reported to the police.
“In short, this survey asks Canadians if they've been the victim of a hate crime and takes a believe-the-victims approach, unlike the police-reported data,” reads the blog post.
“This would be a relatively quick and effective change to make, and would be useful data for annual comparison.”
The data comes one day after a disturbing video showing an alleged hate crime surfaced in Vancouver.
In the video, a woman is seen shoving a backpack into a teenager. Witnesses allege the woman appeared to be upset that the group of teens, who were visiting from Brazil, were speaking in Portuguese.
“They said they felt humiliated, and they didn’t understand—they were just speaking to each other in their mother tongue,” witness Lauren Boothby told CTV NewsVancouver.
While this incident was caught on camera and reported to police, countless others are not, says Amira Elghawaby, a board member of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.
“I was walking in the Tim Hortons parking lot when the car swerved towards me and obscenities were yelled at me, including ‘take off that thing you’re wearing,’” Elghawaby told CTV News.
“I did not report what happened to me because I did not want my family to worry. I did not want to raise the anxiety for my children.”