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Report: Religious Discrimination and Acceptance Alive and Well in Wood Buffalo

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
Report: Religious Discrimination and Acceptance Alive and Well in Wood Buffalo

Left to Right: Chair of Collaboration for Religious Inclusion Waj Arain, CRI Member Donalee Williams, and Volunteer Samra Ilyas // Jaryn Vecchio - Harvard Broadcasting

A new report from Collaboration for Religious Inclusion suggests many people continue to discriminate others for their religious beliefs.

On Tuesday, the group presented its findings to mayor and council.

The CRI finished its project last year – surveying 375 people across Wood Buffalo. They note 51 per cent were Christians, 18 per cent Muslim, 17 per cent having non-religious beliefs, with the remaining 14 per cent being split between other religions.

What came as an alarm to the researchers was the number of people who say they’ve been discriminated against – the majority being Muslim.

CRI Member Donalee Williams tells Mix News around 45 per cent said they felt hated because of their beliefs.

“It could be a small thing, somebody making a remark about what someone is wearing or what someone looks like or a practice they feel is discriminatory which is really troubling.”

Williams says nine per cent also believed their discrimination towards others was justified.

“I think it speaks to miseducation, perhaps popular beliefs about aspects of faith that have been misrepresented in popular religion. I think there’s a lot of labeling when we come to things like terrorism and terrorism is about an act of hate and power and major religions espouse love.”

The report also says eight per cent of people have bad experiences every month while only four per cent report any hate crime violence to police.

“This region can do a lot better,” said Mayor Don Scott. “I want everyone in this region to feel welcomed and included.”

“If somebody is receiving threats or discrimination, talk to somebody about it.”

Many Accepting of Other Religions

The CRI report also suggests many Wood Buffalo residents are supportive of other peoples beliefs.

Around 88 per cent said they’ve had very kind experiences with people from different religions.

“I think that some of the fear and hatred comes out of a lack of experience with others and I think our experience will show that we need kindness, we need hospitality from those who we think might be different,” added Williams.

She says this is really a ‘hopeful sign’ that the community is inclusive.

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