WeSupportHamilton offers community an alternative method for reporting hate crimes
HARRC executive director discusses new resource for reporting hate crimes, a joint intiative with HCCI
Hate crimes have unfortunately been a longstanding in issue in Hamilton. To offer another form of support for the community the Hamilton Anti-Racism Resource Centre and Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion have worked together to develop hate crime reporting tool WeSupportHamilton.
HARRC supports Hamilton community members who have experienced racism and works to educate community on race-based issues while HCCI works to create an inclusive community through community engagement and workshops.
The WeSupportHamilton website was launched on May 8 and offers community members a platform to report hate crimes and access additional support resources. Some of these resources include legal aid, counselling and health services.
“WeSupportHamilton is a website that is designed to allow individuals in our community to report their experiences in the way that they would like it in the way that they would like. So it allows them to be able to say "how I want to be supported, I want my story to move forward",” said Lyndon George, executive director of HARRC.
The website's concept was supported by years of research and community-based conversation. Ameil Joseph, an associate professor of social work at McMaster University, and Kojo Damptey, a sessional Instructor at McMaster, were especially important throughout the entire process.
In 2019, Joseph and Damptey supervised Shubham Maini and Nawshaba Ahmed who wrote a report that explored the basis for online hate reporting. From there, with help from the aforementioned McMaster members, George shared that focus groups were utilized to help shape what was important to support the Hamilton community.
“We had some students conduct research focus groups on what the support could potentially look like, what people would like to see come out of that and looking into why this is needed within the community and really pulling in important information,” said Koubra Haggar, programs manager at HCCI.
As WeSupportHamilton is used for reporting hate incidents that people in Hamilton endure, they are planning to try to synthesize the information to serve as data, which could be used to develop educational material to understand better hate crimes that occur in the city.
Haggar also shared that by putting the community of Hamilton at the forefront of this project, they hope that it will allow those who may have distrust in sharing their experiences with police to have another avenue by which they are able to feel that their experience is recognized and respected.
“The majority of people...at least that I've interacted with, don't report incidences of hate to the police at all. . . just not thinking that it's worth it, or not feeling safe doing that or not knowing or thinking that it would be productive in the long term,” said Haggar.
Given that the website was released a few months ago, George explained the main goal now is to share the resource. They hope that the Hamilton community, including McMaster students, will slowly become more aware of the resource so that they can use it if they see fit.
Moving forward, they hope to further expand the scope of the website. George explained that ultimately this is a resource for community by community; the website will always be adjusted to best fit the needs expressed by the community, including students.
“WeSupport can be one of multiple steps. . .a student can take [when] looking for that type of support. We would always be happy to kind of help out when needed and they don't need to feel like their [information] is going to be going anywhere…Just knowing that they do have support in Hamilton, and then we can connect them to resources that are in the community,” said Haggar.
Haggar and George encouraged McMaster University students to utilize the resource if they find that it can be of help to them.
Overall, both HAARC and HCCI hope this resource empowers members of the Hamilton community to share their experiences and seek the support they need.