February 25, 2021

The Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) denounces the further misogynist, racist, and Islamophobic attacks on Muslim women in Edmonton. We issue this statement to express our solidarity with the women involved, the families, and the communities affected by these events.

A young Black woman wearing a hijab was threatened at a transit station on February 17, and two attacks on Muslim women occurred on February 3. Similar attacks had occurred in Edmonton this past December. See LEAF’s statement denouncing the attacks in December.

COVID-19 has exacerbated existing gender inequalities, leaving women, girls, and gender diverse people more vulnerable to violence. Women, girls, and gender diverse people deserve to be free from violence and to feel secure and fully able to participate in all aspects of public life.

The perpetrators of all of these recent attacks have targeted racialized Muslim women in public places. These women were attacked because of their identities. The attacks were motivated by racism, misogyny, Islamophobia, and hatred. These attacks inflicted severe harm on the individual women that were targeted. They have also caused real harms to the affected communities, spreading anxiety and fear.

As an organization dedicated to advancing the equality rights of women, girls, and all who face gender-based discrimination, LEAF urges the municipal and provincial governments and related entities to implement the measures called for by the affected communities. We specifically echo the community calls for education programs to enhance respect and to counteract misogyny and racism. LEAF also calls on the City of Edmonton and other authorities to inform the public on any measures that have been or are being considered to address these attacks. These attacks also reinforce the need for bystander training programs, to help community members learn how to assist those who are subjected to harassment in public places, and to call out such harassment as unacceptable. Action is urgently needed to address the misogyny, racism, and Islamophobia that manifested themselves most recently in Edmonton, but have also happened in other communities across Canada.