Anti-Racism Resource Centre

Discrimination and Hate Crime

 Know Your Legal Rights!

•    The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, part of the Constitution Act of 1982, and the Canadian Human Rights Act and Human Right Codes prohibit discrimination based on race.
•    The Canadian Human Rights Act and Human Right Codes prohibit discrimination based on race.
•    The Criminal Code of Canada protects you from acts of hate and hate propaganda.
•    If you encounter discrimination, hate or hate propaganda contact your local police office and/or community-based organization. (See “Further Resources” section)

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What is Hate Crime?

“Hate crime refers to criminal offences that are motivated by hate towards an identifiable group. The incident may target race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor, such as profession or political beliefs. These types of offences are unique in that they not only affect those who may be specifically targets by the perpetrator, but they often indirectly impact entire communities.”
Statistics Canada – Hate Crime in Canada, 2006

Hate can be expressed through the following means: Speech, literature, graffiti, internet, posters, brochures, pamphlets, assault, property damage or property defacing.

Violent examples of expressions of hate are:
1.    assaulting someone because of their religion
2.    assaulting someone because of the colour of their skin
3.    assaulting someone because of their sexual orientation
4.    assaulting someone because of their ethnic origin
5.    assaulting someone because of their gender
6.    desecrating a grave site
7.    defacing a place of worship


Defining Racism

The most common type of hate crime incidences are based on Racism.

What is Racism?
•    Prejudice that one’s race is superior to other races.
•    Discrimination or abusive behaviour and action towards one or more races.
•    The idea that beliefs or doctrines that are different among races mean the superiority of some races.
•    A policy or a system that promotes racism.
•    Intolerance of one or more races.

Examples of Hate
There are many ways that people experience racism or discrimination in their everyday lives. Some common examples include:
•    Vandalism of properties or symbols associated with other races such as mosques, synagogues, and grave sites.
•    Singling out an individual for greater scrutiny for no other reason other than their race in places such as shopping malls or at border crossing for reasons of safety, security, public safety.
•    Refusing to hire an individual because to their race.
•    Refusing to serve an individual in a restaurant or hotel because of their race.
•    Being called racist names or making jokes about people because of their race.
•    Racial profiling – using race as a basis of detaining or arresting an individual or subjecting them to (unwarranted) investigation

Recognizing Racism
Consider the following scenarios. Have you experienced something similar?
a) A new student arrives at your school in clothing that is traditional to his/her heritage or country. Other students begin to tease, make mean comments and exclude the new student. How does this make you as a bystander/observer feel? What do you do?
b) Your class has a supply teacher. This teacher has an accent and people start snickering and making rude comments. How does this make you feel? What do you do?
c) You are picking up a chocolate bar at the corner shop and you hear a negative (derogatory) comment about a particular group of people (for example, a religious group, an ethnic group, etc.) How does this make you feel? What do you do?
d) Your friend uses language that perpetuates discrimination. For example, they keep talking about stereotypical images, even when referring to themselves; ("I'm having such a 'blond' day today"). How does this make you feel? What do you do?

Recognizing Homophobia
The Ontario Human Rights Code provides for equal rights and opportunities and recognizes the dignity and worth of every person in Ontario. It is against the law to discriminate against someone or harass them because of their sexual orientation.
A person cannon be treated unequally or subjected to harassment or violence because he or she is gay, lesbian, heterosexual or bisexual.
Examples of homophobia:
a) A gay, lesbian or transgendered person is a target of an assault.
b) Homophobic jokes
c) A person being treated differently because of their sexual orientation

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Reporting a Hate Incident

Have you or someone you know experienced hate crime? It is important to report any hate based incidences directly to the police who will take the necessary steps to investigate and deal with the perpetrator/s.
Below are some ways that you can help fight hate crime.
1.    Contact the Human Rights Commission in your area to make a complaint.
2.    Contact a Legal Aid clinic or your local community organization.
3.    Contact the police especially where there is potential for danger or violence.
4.    Report the incident with the National Anti-Racism Council of Canada who will follow up with you (if you wish) and provide you with information and advice on how to best address your situation. It does not matter how long ago it happened. Start by clicking here.

Your information will be confidential and will not be shared by other parties. Please click on the following link Privacy and Confidentiality for more information on our commitment to you.

1. Contact the Human Rights Commission in your area to make a complaint.

•    When discriminated against because of your race, you can report to the Provincial or Canadian Human Rights Commission.
•    If your complaint is against a federally regulated employer (e.g. chartered banks, airlines, TV and radio stations, phone companies, federal department agencies and crown corporations, unions or service providers) you should file with Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC). You must file your complaint with CHRC within one year.  For the Canadian Human Rights Commission, please click here.
•    You can file a complaint if you are a Canadian citizen, permanent resident and are legally in Canada.
•    You can file a complaint with Provincial Commissions if your complaint is against an individual, a businesses, a health care provider, a school, college or universities, most manufacturers.  For the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, please click here.
Click [here] to access a full list of Human Rights Commissions and Tribunals in Canada.


2. Contacting the Legal Aid Office or your Local Community Organization

If you can't afford a lawyer in Canada, you may be eligible for legal aid. Legal services and requirements for legal aid in Canada vary from province to province, so check with your local Legal Aid office to find out what applies in your province.
You can find the location and contact information of your local Legal Aid from your phone book or community centre.
In Peterborough, you can contact the Peterborough Community Legal Centre.
For a list of community organizations that are dedicated to fighting hate crime, please click on “Further Reading and Resources”.  In Peterborough, you can visit the Community and Race Relations Committee of Peterborough to fill out an incident report and to receive advising and support.


3. Contacting the Police

If your situation requires immediate attention or response, you should contact your local police office right away in person if possible. Police are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. For emergency situations, call 911. Examples of urgent situations are where:
•    there is a risk of physical injury
•    there is a risk of serious damage to property
•    you suspect a crime is in progress
In Peterborough, contact the Peterborough Lakefield Community Police Service:

Ph: 705-876-1122
500 Water Street, Box 2050

The Ontario Provincial Police may also be able to provide support.  Expertise in specialized services is what sets the Ontario Provincial Police apart from other Policing Services in Ontario.

Ph: 1-888-310-1122

The Toronto Police Service also has a Hate Crimes Unit that was created specifically to investigate hate based crime. Police Officers of the Hate Crime Unit can be reached through Intelligence Services at: 416-808-3500 and will provide you with the assistance you require. For more information on the Toronto Police Hate Crime Unit, please click on the link below:
Toronto Police Hate Crimes Unit

What happens when you make a complaint?

•    If you choose to contact a Human Rights Commission, you must state that you want to file a complaint and you will be re-directed to the appropriate person.
•    Upon making the phone call you will receive information about the Commission and the complaint process will be explained to you.
•    Contact your local legal aid office and ask for information about getting legal assistance.
•    To be eligible for legal aid you must be a Canadian citizen, permanent resident or presently live legally in Canada.

Where to report Racial Profiling?

•    Each city police force has a complaint process where you can report racial profiling.
•    Contact the Community and Race Relations Committee of Peterborough for assistance at (705) 742-9658.

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Canadian Human Rights Commissions and Tribunals

Canadian Human Rights Commission

Ontario Human Rights Commission

Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario

Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission

BC Human Rights Tribunal

Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse Quebec

Manitoba Human Rights Commission

Newfoundland and Labrador Human Rights Commission

Northwest Territories Human Rights Commission

Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission

Nunavut Human Rights Tribunal

PEI Human Rights Commission

Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission

Yukon Human Rights Commission


Further Reading and Resources


Hate Crime 


Designed by the National Anti-Racism Council of Canada, NO TO HATE includes information that will help you understand what hate crime is and what your legal rights are so you can protect yourself, report a hate crime incident that has happened to you or someone you know which will be followed up and documented in confidence, join a discussion forum where people with similar stories share their experiences, and find numerous resources that have more information related to Hate Crime.


Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General: Hate Crimes
This section covers two initiatives of the Ontario MAG: the Hate Crimes Community Working Group, and the Community Hate Crime Response Grants Program, which provided $1.35 million in 2007-2008 to fund community-based projects to help address hate crimes. 


Report: Addressing Hate Crime in Ontario
The Hate Crimes Community Working Group was appointed to advise the government on an overall strategy to address individual and community-based victimization and related issues arising from hate crime. The Working Group was also tasked with the responsibility of recommending ways to improve services for victims of hate crime and to prevent further victimization.  This is their final report, published in 2006.


It’s About Time: The Coolest Portal on Fighting Hate Crime
Developed by the Council of Agencies Serving South Asians, It’s About Time is a fantastic resource for youth and anyone interested in taking action against hate crime and discussing how it affects the health of communities.  The site includes stories by youth, quizzes, a gallery, videos, animation, a chat room, analysis of current events, and tools for action.  Highly recommended as an educational tool.


Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics Profile Series: Hate Crime in Canada
This profile, published by Statistics Canada, focuses primarily on 2006 data obtained from the Hate Crime Supplemental Survey, a special survey of hate crimes reported by police services across Canada.  The report examines the nature and extent of hate crime in Canada and the characteristics of incidents, victims and persons accused of these types of offences. This report also discusses the psychological consequences of hate-motivated incidents, including the emotional impacts and victims’ attitudes concerning their personal safety. Lastly, the incidence of hate crime in Canada is compared to that in the United States and Sweden.


Report: An Exploration of the Needs of Victims of Hate Crimes
What are the needs of victims of hate crimes in Canada? Are those needs any different from those of victims of other crimes? In what ways are those needs similar? What do we know about victims of hate crimes? This report presents the findings of a study that sought to explore these questions. It includes a review of available statistics on victims of hate crimes, a review of literature, mostly from academic journals, information on the services jurisdictions provide to victims of hate crimes, and a discussion of next steps. This study, commissioned by the Department of Justice, was published in 2007.


Report: Freedom of Expression and Freedom from Hate in the Internet Age
The purpose of this Special Report to Parliament is to provide a comprehensive analysis of a current debate: what is the most effective way to prevent the harm caused by hate messages on the Internet, while respecting freedom of expression?  The report analyzes the current situation and provides advice to Parliament on options for the future.


Anti-Harassment Policies for the Workplace: An Employer's Guide
Federally-regulated employers are required by the Canada Labour Code to develop their own harassment policies.  The existence of appropriate harassment policies and procedures is a factor considered by the Canadian Human Rights Commission in evaluating a company's liability in harassment complaints.  The purpose of these model policies, developed by the CHRC, is to assist employers in meeting these requirements.



Peterborough Lakefield Community Police Services
Ph: (705) 876-1122 in Peterborough, (705) 652-3307 in Lakefield
*Dial 911 during emergencies
Address: 500 Water Street in Peterborough, 12 Queen Street in Lakefield
The Peterborough Lakefield Community Police Services are ready to assist you if you believe your legal rights have been violated or if you fear violence.  Contact them for more information.


Ontario Provincial Police
Ph: 1-888-310-1122
TTY: 1-888-310-1133
Address: click here for the region and detachment directory
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is the provincial police force for the province of Ontario.  Visit their website for information on their specialized response services.


Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General
The Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General is responsible for the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, the Human Rights Legal Support Centre, and the Ontario Human Rights Commission.  Visit their website for comprehensive information about human rights in Ontario and how to file a discrimination application.
Click [here] for a full list of human rights commissions and tribunals in Canada.


Legal Aid Ontario
Legal Aid is available to low income individuals and disadvantaged communities for a variety of legal problems, including criminal matters, family disputes, immigration and refugee hearings and poverty law issues such as landlord/tenant disputes, disability support and family benefits payments.  Visit their website for information about eligibility.


Nishnawbe-Aski Legal Services Corporation
Nishnawbe-Aski Legal Services Corporation was created to begin addressing the legal and justice issues of Nishnawbe Aski Nation communities, and to begin delivering services and programs in a culturally appropriate manner in furtherance of the original vision of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation leaders who saw the need to find ways to address the shortcomings of the administration of justice in the Nishnawbe Aski Nation territory.  The mandate of the Corporation includes legal, paralegal, public legal education and law-reform services.  Visit their website for information.


Aboriginal Legal Services of Toronto
The Aboriginal Legal Services Clinic is a community legal aid clinic, funded by Legal Aid Ontario, which provides free legal assistance to low income Aboriginal people living in the City of Toronto. The Legal Clinic serves people in a variety of areas including housing problems and tenant rights, Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Plan, Indian Act matters, Canada Pension Disability applications, Employment Insurance and Employment Standards, police complaints, Criminal Injuries Compensation, human rights, and referrals to lawyers on other matters including criminal and family law.  The Clinic is also involved in law reform, community organising, public legal education, and test case litigation.


African Canadian Legal Clinic
The African Canadian Legal Clinic (ACLC) is a not-for-profit organization established in October 1994 expressly to address anti-Black racism and other forms of systemic and institutional discrimination in Canadian society.  As a specialty clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario, the ACLC provides advice and represents African Canadians in all legal forums, particularly in the courts through race-based test cases that are likely to result in significant legal precedents.


Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
The MTCSALC provides free legal advice and referrals primarily in the areas of: immigration; tenants’ rights; employment standards law, human rights, and income maintenance appeals.  Clients must live in Toronto and have income and assets that meet our financial criteria; be unable to communicate fluently in English and speak Chinese, Vietnamese, Khmer (Cambodian) or Laotian; and have a legal problem in an area of law they practice.  Visit the website for details.


South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario
The South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO) is a not-for-profit legal aid clinic that was first established in 1999. SALCO’s mandate is to provide access to justice for low-income South Asians in the Greater Toronto area. As a specialty clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario, SALCO provides advice, brief services, and legal representation in a various areas of poverty law, including: immigration; human rights; Ontario Works/Ontario Disability Support Program; tenant’s rights; Criminal Injuries Compensation; Old Age Security; and Canada Pension Plan. SALCO’s mandate also includes public legal education, law reform initiatives, community development, and test case work.


Legal Aid Ontario List of Specialty Clinics
Visit this page for a full list of specialty clinics in Ontario – clinics that deal with either a specific area of law (ie. workers compensation, workers' health and safety, etc.) or represent specific individuals (ie. seniors, disabled, urban aboriginal peoples etc.). Specialty clinics also serve clients who reside in all areas of the province, unlike general service clinics that serve a local geographic area. These clinics also serve as resources to other clinics, to private bar lawyers, MPPs and community agencies.

Aboriginal Victims Support Grant Program

The Ontario Victim Services Secretariat (OVSS) of the Ministry of the Attorney General has launched Aboriginal Victims Support Grant Program. This new program is an investment in improving services to Aboriginal victims of crime by supporting the delivery of services by Aboriginal communities and organizations.  Aboriginal organizations may apply for project funding of up to $250,000 including capital costs.


Campaigns and Case Studies

Stolen Sisters: Discrimination and Violence Against Indigenous Women in Canada
The Stolen Sisters Campaign is a campaign of Amnesty International Canada to urge the federal government to establish a comprehensive and coordinated plan of action to stop violence against Indigenous women.  According to Canadian government statistics, young Indigenous women in Canada are at least five times more likely than all other women to die as a result of violence.  View their 2004 report here.

Sisters in Spirit Campaign
Sisters In Spirit is a five-year research, education and policy initiative undertaken by the Native Women’s Association of Canada with funding from the Government of Canada.  Its objective is to address violence against Aboriginal (First Nations Inuit and M├ętis) women, particularly racialized and/or sexualized violence, that is, violence perpetrated against Aboriginal women because of their gender and Aboriginal identity.  Visit their website for reports, research and updates.

Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women
Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women is a grassroots solidarity collective based in Montreal that works to eliminate violence and discrimination against Indigenous women living in Quebec. The collective seeks to consult and collaborate with Indigenous communities and organizations to foster understanding and dispel harmful stereotypes commonly held in regards to Indigenous women who are targets of violence.  Visit their website for resources and information on how to get involved.

Ontario Human Rights Commission Inquiry into Assaults on Asian-Canadian Anglers
In September 2007, several racially-motivated attacks on Asian Canadian anglers occurred around lakes and bridges in Ontario. The incidents involved physical assaults and verbal attacks on Asian Canadians who had engaged in recreational fishing in and around the shores of Lake Simcoe. The attacks have since continued, the most recent having been reported in May 2009 to the Ontario Provincial Police.  Visit the website for background and the OHRC’s most recent report, Fishing Without Fear: Follow-Up Report on the Inquiry into Assaults on Asian Canadian Anglers (April 2009).