Residents of Minto and across the region were shocked and dismayed last week as news surfaced that a Harriston resident had posted an online video reeking of racism and containing suggestions of violence.
In smaller towns we sometimes feel insulated from issues like hate speech, often accepting too easily the trope that such attitudes and actions are exclusively big-city problems.
Politicians at both the town and county level responded by issuing statements denouncing the hateful perspective in the video and declaring it unrepresentative of local attitudes.
Community members, led by the Town of Minto Cultural Round Table, responded with a literal display of support for the Muslim community and others targeted in similar fashion in the form of a solidarity march held Monday night.
The “march for solidarity against hate” was a moving event attracting hundreds of supporters and featuring a number of speakers whose thoughtful words should have a binding effect on the entire community.
The Town of Minto seems an unlikely setting for an incident of this nature. The municipality is a regional leader in efforts to create a welcoming and inclusive environment.
For several years the town has offered welcome receptions for newcomers and has proactively facilitated participation from diverse groups in local culture days. Few towns of this size have Pride committees, but Minto has an active and effective one.
Sadly, it seems intolerance is everywhere, though hopefully in small enough supply that most so inclined feel compelled by societal pressure to keep their vile views to themselves.
While it’s understood that attitudes such as displayed in the TikTok video exist in our communities, it is surprising anyone would be so bold as to display such toxic ignorance, in such easily traceable fashion, in a public forum. That’s now a police matter and the outcome of those investigations will be a matter of broad interest. Do we have effective laws to protect against spreading hate in this fashion? If not, why not?
Meanwhile it is up to the rest of us to push back on intolerance and denounce hate and racism when we find it. Such attitudes can’t flourish if they can’t find support.
Perhaps the best summary came from Drayton resident Mohammad Alhawari, a member of the Syrian community, who made an impromptu address to the gathering.
“Canada is not just a map. Anyone who lives on this map is meant to be Canadian and we all have a responsibility to live together peacefully and lovingly,” he stated.