On January 29, 2017, women, men, girls and boys attending prayer at Quebec City’s Grand Mosque were ambushed by a gunman intent on murdering them for their religious beliefs. In total, six men were executed and 19 other people were injured.
The six men were:
- Azzeddine Soufiane, 57, father of three and owner-operator of a butcher and grocery store
- Khaled Belkacemi, 60, was an engineer and professor at Laval University
- Aboubaker Thabti, 44, father of two and worked at a local pharmacy
- Mamadou Tanou, father of two children under the age of three and an IT professional
- Ibrahima Barry, father of four and served as a provincial public servant
- Abdelkrim Hassane, 41, father of three and served as an analyst in the Quebec public service
This unprecedented act of violence – the first known shooting inside a Canadian house of worship – drew extraordinary attention and universal condemnation. But while it is among the most extreme examples of Islamophobic violence, hate crimes against Muslims have been on the rise for years. Between 2014 and 2016 hate crimes against Muslims doubled. Muslim women have been assaulted repeatedly on Ontario streets. The Quran — the Islamic holy text — was ripped to shreds at a public meeting in Mississauga. Near weekly demonstrations by white supremacists in Toronto, including outside mosques, have called for mass deportations of Canadian Muslims.
It is in this context that the SEP Executive Board endorsed the Charter of Inclusive Workplaces and Communities, which is derived from a Charter created by the National Council of Canadian Muslims and the Toronto & York District Labour Council. The Charter is intended to make particular note of Islamophobia among all forms of discrimination because the Muslim community, which includes many SEP members, has asked for and deserves our support. Quite simply, it is the union’s work to tackle Islamophobia because it builds solidarity within SEP’s membership.
If you are still wrestling with the idea of raising the profile of a particular type of discrimination above others, consider a parallel example: the work we do each December 6 to mark the mass murder of women at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique. We commemorate the loss of those killed but also elevate the conversation around all types of violence against women because gender-based violence remains a critical issue in our society.
SEP continues to work against discrimination of all kinds. One way we do this is creating space and opportunity for subsets of members with common identities to work together to express their own needs and interests to other members and broader society. Examples of this are the Aboriginal Relations Committee, Sisters in Society women’s committee and an LGBTQ2S working group that is just getting off the ground. If you are interested in taking part in any of these committees or starting a new committee, please contact EVP Member Services Andy D’Andrea.
Full text of the Charter of Inclusive Workplaces and Communities
Discrimination in all its forms, including racism and Islamophobia, threatens our country’s rich social fabric, including the workplaces of Society of United Professionals members and the communities in which we live.
By signing this Charter, we commit to standing up for the rights and dignity of everyone in order to promote inclusive, just and respectful workplaces and communities.
That is why we affirm that:
- Islamophobia, like all other forms of racism, hate, xenophobia, and bigotry, has no place in our workplaces or communities.
- Discrimination and acts of hate against Society of United Professionals members and others in our communities marginalizes individuals and groups and excludes them from participating fully in our union, workplaces and their communities.
- The dignity of every member is essential to a healthy and vibrant union and workplace.
- As a union, we will work with all levels of government, civil society, and communities to develop policies, programs and initiatives to reduce and eliminate racism, hate, xenophobia and bigotry in all its forms.
- By working together, we can nurture inclusive workplaces and strengthen our shared commitment to The Society of United Professionals’ values of equality, respect, justice, and dignity for all.
How to get a Charter poster or desk tent
If you have not been offered a poster or desk tent, please contact your local delegate, unit director or vice president. If you aren’t sure who that is, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to win
We all deserve safe, inclusive workplaces and communities. But there’s no reason we can’t have some fun at the same time. Here’s how you and your colleagues can win a catered lunch.
Here’s how the contest works:
- SEP is divided into delegate groups of 50 or fewer members – every member has a delegate group. To win, your delegate group must have the most members who have submitted a photo of them supporting the Charter.
- Each photo must be submitted by either:
- Posting your photo to Twitter with a supportive message about the Charter and including @thesocietysays in the tweet (if SEP staff can’t confirm your identity based on your Twitter account you may be required to provide additional information);
- Posting your photo to the SEP Facebook page (www.facebook.com/thesocietysays) with a supportive message about the Charter (SEP staff may require additional information to confirm identity); or
- Emailing your photo to email@example.com with your name, employer name and personal mobile phone number
- To find out who else is in your delegate group contact your SEP delegate. If you don’t know who your delegate is or how to contact them you can receive that information by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If there is a tie for most delegate group submissions the winner will be selected based on the enthusiasm and creativity of the photos submitted.
- The Society may use your photo to promote the Charter and the union in general.
- The contest closes at 11:59pm on July 17, 2017.