By Jeremy Appel
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Statistics Canada has released its hate crime data for 2021, which shows an increase in police-reported incidents from 2020, but not as steep as the spike from 2019 to 2020.
But the report notes the limitations of relying on police-reported data in getting a full picture of the prevalence of hate crimes.
“There are many factors that can impact the likelihood that a given crime is reported to the police and subsequently reflected in police-reported statistics. General awareness among the community and the expertise of local police, and the relationship between a given community and the police, can play a role in how or if a crime is reported,” the report says.
The data shows 77 anti-Indigenous hate incidents in 2021, an apparent decrease of one from 2020. This comes after a 169 per cent increase from 2019 to 2020, meaning reported anti-Indigenous hate crimes are still on the rise over the past few years, and more than doubled in the first year of the pandemic.
But First Nations, Metis and Inuit people are less likely to report hate instances to police, and for good reason.
“Due to the historical and intergenerational trauma resulting from colonialism and related policies, as well as individual and systemic racism, many Indigenous people face deeply rooted social and economic challenges, including higher rates of criminal victimization, discrimination, representation in the criminal justice system, and lower levels of confidence in the police and other institutions,” the report notes.
“These and other factors can impact whether a hate crime comes to the attention of the police.”
A 2019 Statistics Canada survey found that 21 per cent of Indigenous people and 16 per cent of Black people reported facing discrimination from police, compared to four per cent of the non-Indigenous, non-visible minority population.
Overall reported hate crimes have increased 72 per cent from 2019 to 2021. This consists of a 36 per cent increase from 2019 to 2020 and a 27 per cent increase from 2020 to 2021.
There were 3,360 reported hate crimes in 2021, compared to 2,646 in 2020 and 1,051 in 2019.
“The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated experiences of discrimination in Canada_including hate crimes_and underscored an increase in discourse around issues of systemic discrimination,” the report notes.
The bulk of hate incidents reported in 2021 targeted people by race or ethnicity, with 1,723 reports of 3,360, representing 53 percent.
Of the 1,723 reported incidents of racist hate, 642 targeted Black people, constituting 37 per cent of reported racially motivated hate crimes. This was a decrease of 35 incidents from 2020, but almost double the 345 reported incidents in 2019.
The second largest category of reported hate crimes targeted people based on religion, with 884 reported incidents, representing
26 per cent.
Of these 884 reported incidents, 487, or 55 per cent, targeted Jewish people. There were 155 reported incidents of anti-Catholic hate, representing 17.5 percent of the total targeting religion and 144 reported incidents of Islamophobic hate, or 16 percent.
From 2020 to 2021, hate crimes against Jewish people increased by 47 per cent, compared to 71 per cent against Muslims and 260 per cent against Catholics.
Hate incidents based on sexual orientation also saw a significant increase to 13 per cent of total reported incidents in 2021 from 10 per cent in 2020. These figures don’t include hate crimes against transgender people, which aren’t tracked.
All provinces and territories, except for Yukon, saw an increase in police-reported hate crimes in 2021.
The report measures prevalence of reported hate crimes as a measurement per 100,000 people for the sake of comparison.
Alberta’s rate went from 4.7 in 2019 to 6.6 in 2020 and 7.6 in 2021, which is lower than the federal numbers of 5.2 in 2019, 7 in
2020 and 8.8 in 2021.
According to the report, from 2018 to 2021, almost 70 percent of hate crimes went unsolved.
Those who were charged with hate crimes are 86 percent male with a median age of 33. However, 17 percent of those charged were from the age of 12 to 17.
Jeremy Appel is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with ALBERTA NATIVE NEWS. LJI is a federally funded program.