Racialized communities strategy

About the strategy

Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) has committed to developing a multi-year, multi-faceted, province-wide racialized

communities strategy that will build upon the services and supports that LAO already has in place.


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Infographic: The rise in Islamophobia

Click on the image for a PDF version of the infographic


Noun. An unfounded hostility towards Muslims, and therefore, fear or dislike of all or most Muslims.

Islamophobia manifests itself in different ways:

  • hate crimes
  • increased police scrutiny and security profiling
  • discrimination in employment

Islamophobia and race

A significant number of the world’s Muslims are from racialized communities. Those who “appear” Muslim—people from South Asian, Middle Eastern or Somali backgrounds, for example, or due to their clothing or physical appearance—are vulnerable to being attacked or targeted.

“When you’re Arab and Muslim, the categories can get conflated. When I’ve spoken to media, there’s been a distinct interest in looking at Islam is ‘those brown people from over there.’”

Maytha Alhassen, doctoral candidate in the department of American studies and ethnicity at University of Southern California

“Islamophobia manifests itself through the surface characteristics of race. We wrongly think we can judge another’s character by the colour of their skin, the style of their clothing, or the Middle Eastern sound of their name. This is not a vigilance worth protecting; this is a racism, a societal evil that needs to be opposed.”

Stephen Goeman, Interfaith Activist

Islam and Islamophobia in Canada

February 23, 2017: The Ontario legislature unanimously passed an anti-Islamophobia motion to condemn the growing tide of anti-Muslim rhetoric and sentiments and all forms of Islamophobia.

“The day after the shooting in Quebec a father called my community office asking in the morning is it safe for him to send his son to school. That’s not the society we live in. That’s not the society we’re building. Parents should not be fearful for a nanosecond whether they should send their children to school because of their faith. It’s real.”

Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General
  • 3.2% of the population in Canada is Muslim (7.7% in the Greater Toronto Area)

  • Islam is the second largest religion in Canada, after Christianity

  • 44% increase in reported anti-Muslim hate crimes since 2012

There has been an increase in:

  • Verbal attacks
  • Physical attacks
  • Attacks on property and institutions
  • Hate propaganda and demonstrations
  • Threats

LAO’s Racialized Communities Strategy

Legal Aid Ontario is developing a Racialized Communities Strategy. In the first phase, we’ve been talking to people working in different communities to find out (among other things) what types of legal issues are impacting them and whether there are gaps in our services.

As we move forward with the development of the Racialized Communities Strategy, we will look at ways we can offer services that combat racism in the justice system.

LAO condemns Islamophobia and racism in all its forms. We will continue to combat systemic racism in the justice system.

What we are currently working on:

  • researching the link between race and Islamophobia
  • supporting test cases that challenge the Safe Third Country Agreement
  • make our materials and services more accessible in languages often spoken by Muslim people