Police are searching for a man who berated a Muslim woman and her children in downtown Calgary on Tuesday, in what may be the latest in a string of hate-motivated incidents in the province.
Police said at 11:50 a.m., a Good Samaritan witnessed a man verbally accost a Muslim woman, who was wearing a burqa, and her children near the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Eighth Street S.W.
The man is described as being about 50-years-old, white, and was wearing a turquoise shirt and white hat.
Police are looking to speak with any witnesses, and are asking the victim to come forward as she has not filed a police report.
Police said it’s crucial for witnesses to step in when they’ve seen unacceptable behaviour, and that they can call police, offer support and collect information or photos that could be of use to an investigation.
“We are committed to investigating all allegations of hate-motivated incidents,” said senior Const. Craig Collins, police’s hate crimes co-ordinator, in an emailed release. “We recognize the lasting emotional impact such offences have on those involved. Our priority is to ensure Calgarians from all communities feel safe in our city.”
Hate-motivated crimes are crimes where the offender was motivated by hate based on personal characteristics of the victim like race or sex, and the evidence of hate motivation is considered as an aggravating factor during sentencing.
There have been multiple incidences of anti-Muslim hate in Alberta in recent months, including violent attacks against Muslim women wearing hijabs in Edmonton.
Several investigations are underway in Calgary into alleged hate-motivated attacks, including a woman being hit in the head with a frozen water bottle, a woman who was spat on and called a racial slur, and a refugee who was called a terrorist during a road rage incident.
Investigators say they have heard from several different cultural and racialized communities who are worried about their safety and well-being.