Two Ukrainian community groups that signed off on a letter calling for change following reported hate speech at the University of Victoria, say incidents like this aren’t uncommon against community members.
After the UVic Ukrainian Students’ Society found the words “Nazi Scum” on a signup sheet nearly two weeks ago, the university said it was launching an investigation.
It prompted a letter calling for change, penned by the student group, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC), and the Ukrainian-Canadian Cultural Society of Vancouver Island Society (UCCSVI).
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“It’s all really outrageous,” said UCCSVI president Andriy Fabrikov.
Among those calls for change, include additional training on how to better address instances of hate speech and harassment. Which is something that Fabrikov says has been experienced by Ukrainians in the general community.
“One of our community members, she was just walking on the street and a car was passing [by]. They say to her some swear words, just because she had a yellow and blue ribbon on her clothes,” said Fabrikov.
Fabrikov is aware of reported hate incidents across Canada and is now working with the UCC Victoria branch to come up with a solution. Dmytro Borysenko, president of the local branch says talks are still in the early stages, but a big push will be online.
“We’re trying to build some kind of social awareness in social media,” said Borysenko.
Borysenko has heard from people who say they felt unsafe and were subject to multiple instances of harassment
“Sometimes it happens once, another one happened twice and more, and it might be becoming bigger and bigger, so it might just be bigger than feeling unsafe,” said Borysenko.
The one-year mark since the war began is nearing, and both groups are planning for an event focusing on reminding the public of the conflict still happening. A rally, candlelight vigil, and speeches from those who were on the ground Ukraine are all being considered.
The Ukrainian Students Society said on Friday that it is considering filing a report with police.