Canada is renowned worldwide for its openness to immigrants and newcomers. While it is true that Canada accepts a lot of new people, racism persists in the country. In light of the recent shooting in Quebec City, people have begun to question Canadians’ true view on immigration, since public shootings are a rare occurrence in the country. Quebec City has an extremely low crime rate, so for something so violent to happen is a massive shock.
The identified shooter, Alexandre Bissonette, was known as an extreme-right wing supporter and has negative views on immigration. People in his social circles describe him as a reclusive man, but they did not expect him to commit such a violent act. While he did have extreme-right wing views, it was said that he was radicalized through the Internet. He was present as a troll in online conversations among pro-refugee advocates as Quebec continues to welcome newcomers from war-torn Syria.
While most people who have more conservative views on immigration will not be inclined to act violently, the shooting has shed a new light on systematic racism in the country. It is quite sad that it takes a tragic event like the mosque shooting for a national conversation about Islamophobia to become more prevalent. Quebec, in particular, welcomes not only Muslim refugees, but also immigrants from Islam-dominant francophone countries like Tunisia and Morocco. With a primarily Christian population, it is easy to identify the Muslim population as a group of “others.” Especially with recent media highlights of terrorist acts claimed by extremist Muslim groups, one can understand why a fear of Muslims would grow among the population, and why people still find it easier to associate certain behaviours with particular groups that share a common identity.
I feel as if Canadians need to have more conversations about Islamophobia. Due to Canada’s diversity, it is easy to assume that racism is something of the past. While it is not as prevalent compared to other countries, we need to acknowledge that it exists, especially with a government that encourages immigration. As more people come to the country for better opportunities, more cultures and traditions are brought to the country. Unlike the US, Canada is not a melting pot, and it takes pride in being a culturally diverse nation. However, The Globe and Mail interviewed personal development coaches and found that Americans actually have more conversations about race. National conversations about systematic racism would help those who are victims of it. As the nation analyses the problem, steps could be taken to prevent it from happening. It is not beneficial to anyone to simply dismiss the issue and assume that the shooting in Quebec City is simply an isolated case. Racism still exists in the country, and measures need to be taken to solve it, not only to prevent violent acts by people like Mr. Bissonette, but also to create equal opportunities for all the kinds of people who come to Canada.