Guelphites like it when they make the news, but finishing eighth out of 10 as one of Canada’s worst cities for hate crimes is probably not something we’re going commemorate with pride.
According to Macleans, and the research they gathered from Statistics Canada, Guelph was one of Canada’s 10 most hateful cities with populations over 50,000 in 2017 with 11.8 incidents per 100,000. Guelph finished ahead of Vancouver and Port Coquitlam in British Columbia, but behind fellow Ontario towns Sarnia, Hamilton, Peterborough, and York Region.
Thunder Bay, ON, was number one with 18.1 incidents per 100,000.
Thunder Bay, of course, has become notorious for hate crimes, specifically against Indigenous people. In 2017, Barbara Kentner suffered a long, painful death after a trailer hitch thrown from a moving car struck her. An 18-year-old, Brayden Bushby, was charged with the crime.
Back in Guelph, Cst. Josh Fraser, the public information officer for the Guelph Police Service, expanded on the numbers in Macleans saying that 12 of the city’s 16 incidents were graffiti, and that seven of them took place on the University of Guelph campus.
“The year before it was 10 [incidents],” Fraser said. “I’m not trying to downplay it, but it’s six more. It’s not like it jumped from 50 to 100.”
Still, the numbers are up from 7.6 in 2016, and those numbers were up from zero the year before that.
An article for the Guelph Mercury Tribune last year quoted Cst. Buzz Dean of the Guelph Police saying that eight out of the 10 incidents in 2016 were about graffiti with seven of them happening on campus. One of those incidents though was an assault where racial slurs were uttered.
Many of those incidents though don’t make the headlines of the day, but in 2017 an incident of racist graffiti at a Seventh-Day Adventist Church here in Guelph was heavily covered by local media. In recent months, people have noticed the Nazi S.S. symbol scrolled in various places downtown and in the Ward, which is more of that graffiti that occupies much of the time of the police, but still doesn’t speak well of Guelph and the perception that hate is thriving here.
On top of that, Barbara Perry, director of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, reminded Macleans that hate crimes reported to the police usually represent a much larger sample.
“It’s the tip of the iceberg,” she said. “There’s something real going on there.”
***The above image is from a CTV Kitchener story about racist graffiti found outside Diana Downtown in 2013.