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Ottawa to Launch Hate Crime Awareness Campaign
Police targeting schools with posters

OTTAWA area high schools will be among a group of targets by the local police service in a poster campaign designed to lead to a reduction in the incidence of hate crimes in the Capital region.

Det. David Nurse,
Ottawa-Carleton Regional Police Service Hate Crimes Section
Depicting an outstretched hand in protest, the poster will also be displayed in bus shelters, community centres, and other places where people gather.

The campaign's purposes are to increase the profile of the Hate Crimes Section of the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Police Service and the reporting of hate crimes when they happen.

The idea came out of a police-hosted 'Partnerships in Action' workshop last fall, explained Detective David Nurse of the Police Service's Hate Crimes Section.

"The workshop was to give [the] police feedback," said Det. Nurse.  "It included focus groups, one of which was for hate crimes.  The suggestion [that came out of it] was to increase the profile of Hate Crimes," he continued.

The local chapter of the support group Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays (PFLAG) attended the workshop.  "[We] went together with B'nai Brith [of the Jewish Community] and the National Capital Alliance on Race Relations [NCARR] in order to increase the visibility of Hate Crimes," said Dennis Stimson of PFLAG.  "We're the 3 largest sectors of the community effected.  NCARR put everything together and submitted it."

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Mr. Stimson said that PFLAG was chosen because it represents the whole GLBT Community.

The poster was chosen from among entrants in an Ottawa-area high school competition.
Funding for the campaign was provided by Multiculturalism Canada, part of the federal Ministry of Heritage and headed up by Secretary of State (Status of Women) (Multiculturalism) Heidi Fry, as well as by the Canadian Centre for Police-Race Relations, the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Police Service, and the Region of Ottawa-Carleton.

Det. Nurse said that funding will determine the campaign's duration.  If its goals are accomplished it may be repeated in the fall of this year.

'We need this kind of thing'

Although the poster doesn't identify the 3 groups most often the victims of hate violence - gays, Jews, and people of color; according to law enforcement data, - or define what hate crimes are, the Community's Police Liaison Committee is heralding the poster campaign as an excellent idea.

"I am fully supportive of this," said Sandy Beeman, Chair of the Ottawa-Carleton Police Liaison Committee for the LGBT Communities, when he heard the news.  "I think it's an excellent idea.  Unreported and unacknowledged hate crimes are a much more severe problem than usually acknowledged.  People usually accept the hate speech, think it's just teasing and jokes, etc.

"This kind of poster campaign can let people know that everyday confidence and self-esteem are compromised by hate speech, by having your sense of self worn away," he stated.

The poster was chosen from among entrants in an Ottawa-area high school competition.  It was unveiled at Regional Headquarters on March 21st, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.  St. Patrick's High School student Christina Christou's outstretched hand 'Stop!' image was chosen.

The poster is currently with the printer.  The awareness campaign will be ready for launch in about 2-weeks.

For further information or offers of publicity contact Detective David Nurse at nursed@police.ottawa-carleton.on.ca or at Tel: (613) 236-1222 X 2466.