‘Disturbing’ Swastika Incident at Canadian High School Prompts Hate Crime Investigation
An antisemitic incident at an Ottawa high school has prompted local police to launch a hate crimes investigations, a local outlet, Ottawa Citizen, reported on Tuesday.
On Dec. 1, a group of students found a swastika in a classroom at Sir Robert Borden High School, and upon seeing it, one of their group began pantomiming a Nazi salute.
“This is a blatant act of antisemitism, which is absolutely unacceptable,” principal Matthew Gagnier wrote to the community in a letter quoted by Ottawa Citizen. “Every student deserves the right to feel safe at school, regardless of religion/creed, race, background, ability, gender or sexual orientation.”
“This incident is disturbing and comes at a time when we are seeing examples of antisemitism in our community, on social media and around the world,” Gagnier continued, adding that the school “unequivocally” condemns antisemitism.
The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) was informed of the incident on Dec. 5 and is still investigating it, Ottawa Citizen said. In the interim, the school will discipline the students who staged the incident and educate them about hate and intolerance.
Last July, the Government of Ontario announced two new education programs on Monday to address growing antisemitism in Canadian public schools. Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said that the $327,000 initiative was an investment to “help us combat antisemitism in our homes, in our schools, and in communities right across Ontario.”
The programs — “Unpacking Intolerance: Equity and Diversity Training for Educators” and “Tour for Humanity Virtual Summer Camp” — will be supported by the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC). The initiative was prompted by persisting Jew-hatred in Ontario.
“The sad reality is that antisemitism still blights our communities,” Lecce said. “According to Statistics Canada, in 2019, there were 296 police-reported incidents targeting the Jewish population in Canada, the largest religious group.”