Press Releases

CAIR-CAN Encourages Contact to End Racism

Study Shows Intolerance Due to Lack of Contact

(Ottawa, Canada – March 21, 2007) – The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations today asked Canadians to commemorate the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination by consciously reaching out and meeting someone from a different racial or religious background.

A recent Environics poll on multiculturalism strongly suggests interaction with people from different backgrounds leads to a greater understanding and a more favourable opinion of the “other.”

For example, in Quebec where reasonable accommodation is being widely debated, only 35 percent of Quebecers said they have contact with Muslims, and only 27 per cent with members of the Jewish community.

Overall, Canadians interact with African-Canadians people most, with 69 per cent reporting often or occasional contact. Chinese followed at 65 per cent; East Indians and Pakistanis, 54 per cent; aboriginals, 54 per cent; Jewish people, 50 per cent; and, last, Muslims at 46 per cent.

The poll found that most Canadians who support banning the hijab also do not like Arabs. Between 53 and 60 per cent of people who dislike Arabs favour banning the hijab.

SEE: Lack of Contact Linked to Intolerance

“Most of the work that human rights organizations have to deal with is a direct result of intolerance and a lack of understanding.

“We feel the most effective way to end racism and discrimination is for people to make conscious and consistent contact with neighbours, coworkers and classmates from different backgrounds. If we all took the time to walk in someone else’s shoes, like John Howard Griffin, author “Black Like Me,” discrimination would quickly end in Canada.

“Our call for cross-cultural and religious interaction, on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, is being made to Canadians of all backgrounds,” said Karl Nickner, CAIR-CAN Executive Director.

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CONTACT: Sameer Zuberi, CAIR-CAN Communications Coordinator at 613.795.2012, or Karl Nickner, CAIR-CAN Executive Director at 613.254.9704 or 613.853.4111.


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