Albertans are being asked to provide their input as a local organization seeks to bridge gaps in the provincial approach to fighting hate and extremism.
The Organization for the Prevention of Violence has released a survey aimed at gathering input from Albertans across the province and across various communities to gain insights into how they are affected by hate. OPV executive director John McCoy said they hope to hear how different hate incidents have affected both individuals and communities.
The survey, billed as the first of its kind in Alberta, will be used to create policy recommendations that will be presented to the provincial government next year. The survey will be accessible until December 31 and takes approximately 15 minutes to complete.
“What are their experiences with hate crimes and incidents at the individual level at the family level, but also at the community level?” said McCoy. “It’s really in line with what we do at the organization. We try to use research to inform policy and practice related to the prevention of violence.”
McCoy said the level of hate-related incidents has been on the rise over the past decade. However, he said the public data on such incidents is incomplete as governments have historically relied on police reporting to gather information. OPV seeks to delve deeper into what racialized communities face.
“The handling of that information is very incomplete,” McCoy said. “We don’t know that everything that happens is sent to the police, especially from some communities that may just not report.”
Once the survey is complete, OPV will work to create policy recommendations for the province. McCoy said these recommendations could revolve around how hate is addressed in the criminal code or address why certain communities are reluctant to come forward when they are victimized.
“They are simply not believed,” McCoy said. “I think what’s going to come out is that different communities have different degrees of barriers to reporting.”
McCoy said their recommendations will be presented in mid-March.
Earlier this year, OPV released a report that found extremism and hate in Alberta has become more individualized as people pick and choose elements of various extremism movements rather than joining a well-defined group. The report also found that the COVID-19 pandemic has fueled a rise in anti-authority and anti-government sentiment.
When the report was released, OPV’s director of research, Michael King, said policymakers will have to decide whether a law enforcement or a psychosocial approach is best suited to combating hate.