OPA Statements

OPA Condemns Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hatred

June 14, 2021

Madiha and Salman Afzaal, their 15-year-old daughter Yumna, and her paternal grandmother, Talat, 74, were killed when a driver ran them over in a pick-up truck on Sunday, June 6, 2021 in London, Ontario. The couple’s nine-year-old son was taken to hospital with serious injuries. The family had been out for their nightly walk after dinner when a driver decided to murder them in a hate-fuelled Islamophobic attack.

Islamophobia is not new to Canada. It is embedded in this country’s colonial legacy, policies, media and political discourse. It is a lived experience for many in this nation, especially those who are visibly Muslim such as Muslim women who choose to wear hijab or those who are mistaken for being Muslim such as Sikh men who don a turban. The bullying, intimidation, harassment, threats to people and places of worship and outright banning of the hijab, niqab and other religious symbols for employees in the public sector in Quebec has resulted in deadly violence. There have been numerous incidents of hatred against Muslims with fatal consequences including the murder of a mosque volunteer in Ontario last year and the Quebec City mosque massacre during evening prayers which left 6 Muslim men dead on January 29, 2017.

Anti-Muslim hatred cannot be de-coupled from violence being perpetrated against Indigenous, Black, Asian and other racialized and marginalized populations. Islamophobia is yet another manifestation of systemic oppression and colonization.

The Ontario Psychiatric Association strongly condemns Islamophobia, anti-Muslim hatred and all forms of racial and religious discrimination. We also call for more work to dismantle the systems that perpetuate this level of violence against these populations and advocate for an expansion of culturally tailored resources, cultural safety and greater compassion in our profession.

OPA Denounces Anti-Asian Racism

Thursday, April 1, 2021

In the face of brazen acts of violence against North Americans of Asian descent including the horrific shootings in Atlanta, the OPA strongly denounces anti-Asian racism and discrimination in all of its forms.

While there has been a long history of anti-Asian racism and systemic inequities dating back to the founding of Canada as a nation, it has often been masked by the model minority myth. With the pandemic, Asian communities have been blamed and treated as foreigners. Anti-Asian discrimination and hate crimes have dramatically increased, including violent attacks against women and the elderly.

In 2020, a national survey found 50% of Chinese Canadians were insulted because of the pandemic, and 43% were personally threatened or intimidated. The Chinese Canadian National Council of Toronto documented 1150 cases of racist attacks from March 10, 2020 to February 28, 2021 reported through web portals, with about 40% of the cases being from Ontario. Alarmingly, about 11% of the attacks involved violent assault or unwanted physical contact and about 10% involved being coughed on or spat at.

We recognize the tremendous destructive impact that racism has on the safety, mental health, and wellbeing of Asian individuals and communities. This is especially concerning in the context of unmet mental health needs for Asian Canadian populations, including poor access, language barriers and insufficient services, leading to significant mental health disparities in Ontario.

As psychiatrists and mental health professionals, the OPA stands in solidarity with Asian communities. We call for anti-stigma advocacy and initiatives, individually and collectively; support for culturally competent mental health care for diverse communities; and an end to all forms of xenophobia, racism, and discrimination.

Ontario Psychiatric Association Anti-Racism Statement

Monday, June 8, 2020

The Ontario Psychiatric Association (OPA) unequivocally condemns all forms of anti-Black Racism and stands in solidarity with those standing up and speaking up about the injustices faced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour in Ontario, Canada, and the Global Community. Psychiatrists have an important role to play in addressing the disproportionate impact of violence and coercion on patients of colour. We must not only acknowledge and reckon with the impact of systemic racism on our most vulnerable and marginalized patients, but we must also rise up and do the work to dismantle oppressive structures and work towards a more just and equitable healthcare system. The OPA is committed to addressing the issue of equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging through words and deeds as we move forward as a profession and as a community. 

On behalf of the OPA Council,

Javeed Sukhera
OPA President, March 2019 - June 2020

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