Hate and racism have no home in North Bay.
That from Mayor Al McDonald as he accepted a certificate of merit from B’nai Brith Canada for speaking out against antisemitism and recognizing May as Jewish Heritage Month in the city.
Marvin Rotrand, National Director of the organization’s League for Human Rights says they’re recognizing the entire community for its response to an incident of antisemitism last year that garnered national headlines.
He says North Bay is the perfect example for others across Canada.
“If this happens in your community how are you going to react? We know how North Bay reacted,” Rotrand says. “The mayor spoke, the council spoke, the police department got involved, the school board became involved and the community as a whole became involved and said ‘sorry it’s not going to take root in our community.’ Are you going to do the same?”
Rotrand says incidents and manifestations of hate need to be taken seriously.
He says a recent shooting in Buffalo shows that things seen online can lead to radicalization, the poisoning of young minds and could lead to violence.
Rotrand says B’nai Brith’s audit of antisemitic incidents in Canada last year showed a record year of hate incidents aimed at Jews.
“A lot of that was online, pretty vile and beyond the scope of Canadian laws,” he says. “Clearly, Parliament is going to have to weigh in. They’re going to have to do what other countries have done; confront the internet, confront social media and find a way to balance free speech with the rights of minorities to feel protected and safe in their countries.”
McDonald is encouraging everyone to stand up and speak against hate and racism.
“We are a welcoming and inclusive community for everyone. It is our responsibility as leaders and as citizens of North Bay to always speak up against racism and hate when it happens,” he says. “Staying silent is really just assisting racism and hate to continue.”
In late April, council passed a motion to recognize every May as Jewish Heritage Month in North Bay.