Saskatchewan is a Canadian province that borders the United States to the south. Grassland covers its southern plains, and to the north are the rugged rock of the Canadian Shield plateau, coniferous forests, rivers and lakes. Regina, the provincial capital, is home to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, with exhibits on natural history and the people of Canada’s First Nations.
Saskatchewan’s population is just over one million people. A Statistics Canada report from 2013 showed that Regina had the highest number of reported hate crimes in the province, with six incidents.
The most recent reported incident was on May 1, 2017 for a 13 year old boy charged with mischief and break and enter “after the Beth Jacob Synagogue was vandalized… in Regina.” Both the synagogue and Regina Police Service stated they do not believe this to be a hate crime or motivated by antisemitism.
In September 2016, the Saskatchewan Rough Riders (a CFL football team) released player Khalif Mitchell over antisemitic tweets. One post declared that the Islamic State was “run by Jews.” In one case in 2015, according to a news report, Mitchell posted a Holocaust denial video.
Saskatoon is a city of approximately 265,000 people, the largest in Saskatchewan. According to the Saskatoon Police Service, as of May 16, 2017, “there were two crime incidents motivated by hate.”
One incident appeared antisemitic in nature. In December 2016, an unknown person left a hate message (graffiti of an antisemitic nature) on the detached garage of the complainant. “The complainant explained that her family was not Jewish but her children had Hebrew sounding first names.”
The first incident reported in January 2016 appeared to be domestic in nature where a “mentally challenged brother” is suspected of slashing his brother’s tires and scrawling the words, “rapist” and a swastika.
Hate crime in Saskatchewan impacts First Nations communities significantly. Reporting appears to be limited as well because police record incidents that meet the standard of a criminal offence. According to Prince Albert (population 36,000) Police Chief Troy Cooper, “In 2016 we only recorded one offence and it was termed “inciting genocide.” The offence targeted First Nations people and the offender was 40-45 years old.”
According to Chief Cooper, “anecdotally we had noticed a decrease over the past decade in overt racist activity, but that has changed in the last year and a half. As social media and online commentary has expanded we have seen more racist or hate type posts and commentary. Last year our provincial premier called for a stop to this kind of divisive action after a First Nations youth was shot and killed in what many felt was a racist act.”
Moose Jaw police Chief Rick Bourassa advised FSWC that they had no hate crimes to report, however mentioned an undertone of hatred towards transgender and First Nations within their communities.