Alberta is a province in Western Canada. Its landscape encompasses mountains, prairies, desert badlands and vast coniferous forests. It has more than 600 lakes, and rich mineral deposits. In the west, the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks have glaciers in the Columbia Icefields. The Waterton Glacier International Peace Park is a biosphere reserve that straddles the southern border with the USA. Alberta’s population is 4.1 million and capital city is Edmonton.
A June report submitted to FSWC by the Edmonton Police Service for 2017 listed a total of 12 hate crimes, two of which were antisemitic in nature: according to the service, “this represents a reduction in hate crimes from 2016, although when hate incidents are included for both years, 2017 is approximately consistent with 2016. The reduction in crimes so far in 2017, is seasonal, as we have not yet entered summer, where we typically encounter a greater volume of events.”
The Edmonton Police Service advises that general trends of hate include, “anti-immigration sentiment with a focus on Islam. Negative references to Syrian refugees, inflamed Islamic international terrorist events, and parliamentary motion m-103.” Interestingly, the service advises of a growth in extreme right wing groups (SOO, Canadian Sentinels, Guardians of Alberta, etc.) with a targeting of non-white communities and anti-LGBTQ.
According to the Statistics Canada Police-reported hate crime, 2016 report, the number of police-reported hate crimes in Alberta declined from 193 in 2015 to 139 in 2016 due to fewer crimes targeting religion. The 139 hate crimes reported in Alberta made up 10% of all hate crimes in Canada.
Police were investigating two separate fires that appear to have been deliberately set at a Jewish school in Edmonton on July 15th and 16th, 2017. The Israeli and Canadian flags were stolen from the Orthodox synagogue down the street from the school one day later as well.
On January 31, FSWC alerted Calgary Police Service to an antisemitic web postings by a group called Muslims in Calgary. Concerns were raised in particular regarding an article promoting Holocaust denial by white supremacist David Duke, which was posted to the group’s website on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The police were also alerted to the group’s Facebook page, which featured an infographic depicting a swastika and linked to an article which asserted antisemitic claims, including Holocaust denial and conspiracy theories of organ harvesting by Jews. While the postings are now inactive, Calgary police responded quickly to launch an investigation.
Last year, a reported antisemitic post to the Muslims in Calgary website was condemned by the Muslim Council of Calgary (MCC). The September 25th, 2017 article stated that the MCC disassociated itself from remarks about the “Jewish controlled media” and Jews’ preference for male circumcision contained in an article as they were "..false assertions" that "perpetuate anti-Semitic notions and foster misconceptions and distortions of Judaism and the Jewish People”.
The Toronto Sun ran an article September 5, 2017 stating that a website, Muslims in Calgary, featured an article speaking about the benefits of female genital mutilation (FGM) - a practice identified and strongly condemned by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a violation of human rights. Further to this, the author allegedly disputes the WHO claim, stating that "the Jews" and "Jewish controlled media" are responsible for the so-called 'misinformation' about FGM.
On August 17th, 2017 Nimra Amjad, a Calgary woman running for a position as school board trustee, reported that she received threatening comments on her Facebook campaign page along with a threatening personal message. The first comment included a racial slur and questioned her right to run for the school board position. Another post stated that the neo-Nazi Aryan Guard group, which has been active in Calgary in the past, would find out where she lives, telling her to "beware." Yet another post read: "you will be lying dead on the street like Heather Heyer." (Heyer is the 32-year-old protester killed after a car plowed through a crowd in Charlottesville, Va. where white supremacist groups and counter-protesters violently clashed). Calgary Police are investigating.
On December 18, 2017, FSWC was dismayed to learn that synagogues in multiple cities - including Edmonton, Hamilton, Toronto, Montreal and Kingston - received disturbing and threatening antisemitic mailings. The unmarked letters depicted in graphic style a swastika embedded in a yellow Jewish star dripping with blood accompanied by the words "Jewry Must Perish."
On October 11, 2017 Calgary Councillor Ward Sutherland used what appeared to be an antisemitic term, "Johnny Jew from New York" in a public hearing regarding artwork.
In April 2017, FSWC responded to a Catholic high school in Red Deer that was teaching its students that abortions in Canada are equivalent to the Holocaust. “The Case Against Abortion, Personhood” – is a video was being shown behind closed doors. Alberta Education Minister David Eggen informed Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools that “there is no place in a publicly funded school for a video comparing the horrors of the Holocaust to abortion.”
Days after the Calgary Jewish Community Centre was evacuated due to a bomb threat in March 2017, a racist group called “Blood and Honour” announced it was hosting Alison Chabloz, a white supremacist from the UK. A closely monitored group by the RCMP, Blood and Honour is named after a Hitler Youth slogan and publishes a magazine promoting neo-Nazism. Chabloz is said to have referred to Auschwitz as a “theme park” and to the gas chambers as a “hoax.”
Antisemitic sentiments were exposed against a Jasper woman who produced and starred in a Holocaust denial video. The CBC reported on July 15, 2016 that Monika Schaefer “expresses her firm belief that six million Jews did not die at the hands of Nazi Germany and refers to the Holocaust as the six million lie.” The Green Party, for whom Schaefer ran as a candidate, immediately distanced itself from Schaefer.
On September 21, 2017, former football player Craig Ellis discovered the letters "KKK" spray painted on his home's garage door in Edmonton. The next day nearby residents united to clean the racist graffiti. According to Edmonton police, this was an isolated incident and is being investigated as a hate crime.
Calgary police are investigating after hateful graffiti was found on a car, which was also set on fire. On September 19, 2017, "White power", a swastika and the number 666 was spray painted on the car. The graffiti and vandalism is being investigated as a hate crime.
On August 29, 2017, antisemitic graffiti that was discovered outside a strip mall in Okotoks. The Star of David was spray-painted with a swastika inside. The city’s mayor, Bill Robertson, said that while the RCMP has dealt with numerous graffiti incidents, this is the first swastika he’s seen. The RCMP is treating the graffiti - which has been condemned by FSWC - as a hate crime.
On March 17, 2017 – CTV reported that Calgary police were investigating hate graffiti in a park in Ranchlands. “The messages containing insults directed towards Jews and Muslims” were found by a resident. Earlier in March, swastikas and graffiti was also found in the Bridgeland neighbourhood – possibly targeting refugees.
In December 2016, the Calgary Sikh community said profanity and swastikas were painted on its temple. Its community proudly spoke out against this form of hate and racism and encouraged Calgarians to report such hate to police.
On February 13, 2017, the Calgary Sun reported that a dozen posters were found on windows and doors at the University of Calgary – attempting to cast doubt that six million Jewish people were murdered in the Holocaust. The posters asked, “Did the 6 million really die?” Like most investigations, the culprits were never found.
In September 2016 Global News reported that the University of Lethbridge suspended one of its professors without pay pending an investigation. Lethbridge police investigated professor Anthony Hall’s Facebook page. The post said in part, “kill all Jews now. Every last one” (the original post was not Hall’s). Police did not lay charges against Hall stating, the post “did not meet the threshold for intent... for advocating genocide or public incitement of hatred.” As of January 2017, the university re-activated Hall’s pay and launched a complaint against him with the Human Rights Commission of Alberta. Additionally, Hall is suspended from teaching and contact with students.
Terror struck Saturday, September 30th, 2017 on the streets of Edmonton as a police officer was run down and then stabbed by a suspect. The suspect then returned to his vehicle and proceeded to run down four more pedestrians before being apprehended. The actions are being pursued as an act of terror and it is believed the suspect acted alone. Police have identified and arrested the suspect: Abdulahi Hasan Sharif; he is known to police having been previously investigated in 2015 for reportedly "espousing extremist ideology". The investigation had allegedly been closed with no further action following a series of interviews.
Tragedy struck in 2015 when Const. Daniel Woodall was shot several times on the doorstep of a home in west Edmonton while serving an arrest warrant relating to a hate crimes matter. That was the year the number of hate reported incidents in the city hit 138, whereas in 2016 there were approximately 108 recorded cases.