Private, not-for-profit organizations in Canada that are at risk of being victimized by hate-motivated crime are encouraged to apply for a new Government fund from 28 July. The initiative is very relevant to places of worship, including Buddhist centers and temples, which have experienced a rise in hate crimes since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Security Infrastructure Program (SIP), which is delivered through Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Strategy, has been created to assist communities at risk of hate-motivated crime to enhance their security infrastructure. The funding can be used for a variety of security-related items, including fencing, lighting, doors, windows, cameras, and alarm systems.
Following the high number of applications received by the SIP in 2020, the government of Canada announced last week that 150 projects representing more than C$6 million (US$4.8 million) have been recommended to help protect vulnerable religious and cultural organizations.
Bill Blair, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, made the following statement:
All people living in Canada have the right to practice their culture or faith without fear, regardless of their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion. The Government of Canada is committed to keeping gathering spaces safe and secure and responding to the needs of communities most at risk for hate crimes. The SIP supports community centers, educational institutions, and places of worship vulnerable to hate-motivated crime by enhancing their security infrastructure to create safer, more secure, gathering spaces for members of their communities. (Government of Canada)
In addition to improving physical infrastructure and security, the list of expenditures under SIP has been extended to include basic training for staff members to respond to hate-motivated incidents.
The Government of Canada states that it is committed to helping educational centers, community centers, and places of worship to protect themselves. While the call for applications is available to eligible candidates from all communities, the new funding from Budget 2021 will center around addressing anti-Asian hate-motivated crime.
Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes against Asian communities has increased drastically, with individuals and institutions becoming victims of hate speech and physical violence. According to the Bloomberg media organization, community groups in Canada report Asian elders saying they have not felt such intense levels of hatred since World War II.
Religious institutions have also suffered. As previously reported by Buddhistdoor Global in February 2020, several Buddhist temples in the Canadian city of Montreal had their monuments and statues vandalized.* Due to the timing and nature of the crimes, the acts were investigated by law enforcement as potential hate crimes.
Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion, and International Trade, made the following statement:
All Canadians deserve to be safe and live without fear of harassment or discrimination because of who they are. Over the pandemic we have seen a disturbing increase in racism and acts of hate—including anti-Asian racism, and our government is taking action. Racial intolerance has been a reality for many Asian Canadian communities for too long. Acts of hate and racism are attacks on fundamental rights and freedoms, and on Canadian values of respect, equality and inclusion. Our government is stepping up to support vulnerable communities by investing to ensure they feel safe in their community centers, schools and places of worship. (Government of Canada)
Eligible candidates are encouraged to apply from 28 July–22 September 2021. The SIP will hold information sessions in English and French on 29 July and 30 July, respectively, during which interested candidates can find out more about the program as well as the application requirements and process.
* Montreal Police Investigate Desecration of Buddhist Sites and Temples as Potential Hate Crimes (Buddhistdoor Global)
Government of Canada moving forward with 150 projects to protect against hate-motivated crimes (Government of Canada)
Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Program (SIP) (Public Safety Canda)
This Is the Anti-Asian Hate Crime Capital of North America (Bloomberg)
Related news reports from Buddhistdoor Global
Rev. Marvin Harada, Bishop of Buddhist Churches of America, Reflects on the Rise of Asian Hate Crimes
Buddhist Temple in Los Angeles Vandalized amid Rise in Hate Crimes
New York Buddhist Church to Celebrate End of Year with Online Offerings
Six Buddhist Temples Vandalized Near Los Angeles Investigated as Hate Crimes
Buddhist Temple Vandalized in Arkansas Seeks Funds to Replace Destroyed Buddhas
Buddhist Monks at Thai Temple in Las Vegas Flee Gunfire and Arson
Oldest Buddhist Temple in Hawai‘i Burglarized, One Arrested
Related features from Buddhistdoor Global
For the Ancestors and for Peace: A Conversation with the Organizers of “May We Gather”
Buddhistdoor View: Beyond Boundaries, Beyond Fear – Responding to a Rise in Hate
For Our Children’s Sake: Dismantling Racism and Bias in Schools
The Birth of an American Form of Buddhism: The Japanese-American Buddhist
Toward Liberation: Dismantling Racism and Bias in the Sangha
Experience in World War II
Exploring Buddhist Harmony and Inclusiveness in Japan
Julius Goldwater: Protector of Japanese American Buddhists