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B.C. leads country in hate crimes as Canada hits highest reported totals ever

Police-reported hate crimes per capita rose by nearly 200 cases in 2020
While Greater Victoria residents showed their support for Black Lives Matter in 2020, new figures show the number of police-reported hate crimes in the metropolitan area rose by 97 per cent in 2020 over the previous year. (Black Press Media file photo).

B.C. has earned the earned the shameful status of the most hateful province in Canada.

According to figures from the Canadian Centre for Justice and Community Safety released through Statistics Canada, the province topped the nation in police-reported hate crimes per capita in 2020, with a rate of 10.1 per 100,000 population.

Overall, Canadian police reported 2,669 hate-motivated criminal incidents in 2020, the largest number recorded since comparable data became available in 2009. B.C.’s incident report total grew by 198 over 2019, the second-largest jump behind Ontario’s 316.

RELATED: UVic study shows hate crimes against Asian Canadians increase during pandemic

The report points to two broader categories of potential causes.

The first is a general disconnect between stated public policies protecting specific populations and actual practice.

“Indigenous peoples and those designated as visible minorities generally report feeling less safe than the rest of the population, in some cases are much more likely to be over-represented in the justice system, and along with sexual minorities, are more likely to report experiencing discrimination and victimization,” it reads.

The second concerns the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The (pandemic) … further brought to light the varying experiences and perceptions of some of Canada’s diverse population, as well as the systemic barriers they face, including varying levels of perceived safety and self-reported victimization.”

Within this context, the report points to the rise of hate crimes targeting East or Southeast Asian populations, a legacy of false, populist rhetoric that initially framed COVID-19 as a ‘Chinese’ disease.

Crimes motivated by hatred of a race or ethnicity represented 62 per cent of the total – a substantial increase over previous years, the report states – while religion-related hate crimes dropped to 20 per cent.

Crimes motivated by hatred of a sexual orientation accounted for 10 per cent of the total, while those targeting language, disability, age, sex, or gender comprised seven per cent, a similar proportion to recent years.

Separating incidents by physicality, the report stated that non-violent hate crimes rose 41 per cent, while violent hate crimes were up 32 per cent.

Police-reported statistics capture only crimes that come to the attention of police or other authorities. Other studies have found that a large number of incidents perceived to be motivated by hate went unreported for a number of reasons, including but not only “a lack of confidence or trust in the police or other social institutions.”

Based on population, the B.C. capital region’s 8.3 police-reported hate crimes per 100,000 people in 2020 ranked it 12th in Canada and was higher than the national average of seven. The near-doubling of incidents reported pushed Victoria CMA up from 20th place on the national list in 2019.

Among census metropolitan areas (CMAs) with at least 10 hate crimes reported to police, Victoria CMA’s 97-per-cent increase ranks third highest in the country. Only Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo (up 253 per cent) and Peterborough (126 per cent) CMAs had higher increases year over year.

Vancouver CMA recorded B.C.’s highest rate with 13.8 cases/100K, and the fourth-highest in Canada. Victoria’s rate was also higher than Abbotsford-Mission CMA (3.9/100K) and Kelowna CMA (2.3/100K).

RELATED: PHOTOS: Thousands attend rally for Black lives in downtown Victoria

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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