As a third year university student, I am lucky to say I haven’t experienced a substantial act of hate that I can vividly recall. The Alberta Hate Crimes Committee defines a hate crime as “Any criminal offence committed against a person or property, which is motivated in whole or in part by the suspects’ hate, prejudice, or bias against an individual or identifiable group based on real or perceived race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor.” It is important to recognize that hate incidents, although not criminal in nature, are just as harmful to the victim and their community.
My name is Pariyanka Chandan and I am volunteering with the Alberta Hate Crimes Committee (AHCC) this summer for my stretch experience. My initial involvement required me to learn a lot about the committee, Alberta’s history with hate crimes, and what is being done to combat hate. I spent a whole day at the RCMP headquarters with the Community Liaison Program Manager to do so. I was provided with a lot of materials and tools to help understand the state of hate in the province as well as the work being done. Visiting the RCMP headquarters was a really neat experience as I got a tour of the offices as well. A highlight was visiting the training gym where they perform endurance tests. Lets just say I would not pass that test!
Once I had the textbook information about hate crimes, I was curious to hear from real people and what they had gone through. I had the opportunity to go down to Calgary with the AHCC for Victims and Survivors of Crime Week 2018. Here I was able to hear from different committee members across Alberta and the work they are doing. It was really interesting to hear about the different issues communities are facing and the work that these members are doing daily to combat it. My favourite part was the afternoon program we hosted as it was an eye opening experience. Students of Kainai High School and their teachers had lunch with us and discussed their experience with hate. It was an emotional afternoon as these young students recalled many incidents where they were victimized based on their race, sex, and other factors. It really made me reflect on my life and how much I take small things for granted.
(Photos courtesy of Alberta Hate Crimes Committee Facebook Page)
Continuing on I am looking forward to collaborating with committee members to best support not only victims, but their communities that are impacted by hateful incidents. I will be continuing to help with events, officially registering the organization, and campaign initiatives to help spread awareness about the resources that the AHCC offers.
— PARIYANKA CHANDAN