Pepper-spray attack on refugees treated as 'hate-motivated crime': Vancouver police

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is condemning an attack on Syrian refugees in Vancouver, after police say a man pepper-sprayed a group at a welcoming event.

See Full Article

Officers say the incident happened outside of the Muslim Association of Canada Centre, just after 10:30 p.m. on Friday.

The centre was holding a "Welcome Night" for refugees that evening, and a crowd of people were gathered outside when an unknown man approached on a bicycle.

Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer said the man then pepper-sprayed the group, causing harm to approximately 15 men, women and children.

Witnesses at the scene described the sudden attack.

"I saw people running out of the centre and crying and coughing," a witness named Fatima told CTV Vancouver. "I (could) smell the black pepper. And it did hurt, of course."

Paramedics arrived on scene to treat those hit by the spray. They said nobody was seriously injured.

Palmer told a news conference Saturday that police are now investigating the incident as a “hate-motivated crime.”

He also said that investigators are looking to obtain video surveillance from surrounding businesses in efforts to identify a suspect.

No images of a suspect have been released yet.

On Saturday, Trudeau responded to the incident on Twitter.

"I condemn the attack on Syrian refugees in Vancouver," the prime minister wrote. "This isn't who we are – and doesn't reflect the warm welcome Canadians have offered."

"I condemn the attack on Syrian refugees in Vancouver," the prime minister wrote. "This isn't who we are – and doesn't reflect the warm welcome Canadians have offered."

I condemn the attack on Syrian refugees in Vancouver. This isn't who we are - and doesn't reflect the warm welcome Canadians have offered.

— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 9, 2016

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship John McCallum expressed similar sentiments at a Saturday afternoon media availability, saying he was “shocked and appalled” by the attack, which he deemed “an isolated incident.”

“It does not reflect the values of our country and it is my hope that the Vancouver police will soon be able to arrest the perpetrator,” McCallum told reporters.

The minister reiterated that the majority of Canadians support the refugee resettlement efforts and are proud of Canada’s multiculturalism. He pointed to the story of a mosque in Peterborough, Ont. that was burned down last November and how the community “rose up” to help fund the repairs.

“As illustrated by the response of the community in Peterborough, the great majority of Canadians are strongly in favour of a multicultural society in which all communities and religions are respected.”

McCallum added that he is not concerned about the incident tarnishing Canada’s reputation on the global stage.

“The picture of Justin Trudeau welcoming the first plane [of refugees in Toronto] has gone around the world and partly as a result of that, we now have a reputation as a country that welcomes refugees with open arms,” he said.

In a post on Twitter, B.C. Premier Christy Clark called the incident "intolerable, regardless of motivation.”

Last night's attack on refugees is intolerable, regardless of motivation. Please join me in condemning it, and welcoming new Canadians.

— Christy Clark (@christyclarkbc) January 9, 2016

The attack has been labelled an act Islamophobia by Samer Majzoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum.

“What could this be, beside hatred or racism?” Majzoub said on CTV’s News Channel Saturday.

Unfortunately, attacks on Canadian Muslims are “not something new to the Canadian Muslim community,” Majzoub said, pointing to reports of hijab-wearing women being attacked in public places.

Majzoub repeated the prime minister’s message that the Vancouver attack “does not in any way reflect who we are as Canadians.”

Police are now looking for the man on the bicycle. He is described as having a slim build and was seen wearing a white or grey hooded sweatshirt at the time of the event.

Vancouver police have also called in several specialized officers to help investigate the attack, including a hate crime detective, a Muslim liaison officer and the force’s diversity unit.

With files from CTV Vancouver



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Trudeau says he was informed of Fortin investigation 'a number of weeks ago'

    Canada News CBC News
    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he found out about the investigation into Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, who had been the public face of the vaccine distribution drive, a few weeks ago, but not the details of the sexual misconduct allegations. Source
  • Federal government invests $200 million to build an mRNA vaccine plant in Ontario

    Canada News CBC News
    The federal government today announced a $200-million investment to help a Mississauga, Ont.-based company build a plant that can churn out millions of mRNA vaccines. Innovation Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said the money will be used to expand an existing site owned by Resilience Biotechnologies Inc. Source
  • Feds investing nearly $200M in Mississauga, Ont. plant to mass produce vaccines

    Canada News CTV News
    OTTAWA -- The federal government will invest almost $200 million in Mississauga, Ont.-based Resilience Biotechnologies to eventually be able to mass produce vaccines domestically. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement on Tuesday, stating that the money will go toward creating and maintaining 500 jobs and 50 co-op positions for young people “to get their foot in the door in a growing sector. Source
  • Massive fire north of Prince Albert, Sask., is threatening farms and acreages

    Canada News CBC News
    Harold Fisher is wondering if he'll have a home to go back to. Fisher had to evacuate his farm late Monday evening because of a large fire raging north of Prince Albert, Sask., about 135 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon. Source
  • 'Sheerness when wet': Joe Fresh recalls boys, toddler swim shorts out of 'abundance of caution'

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Loblaws' Joe Fresh clothing brand is voluntarily recalling swim shorts for boys and toddlers over concerns about the sheerness of the trunks’ fabric when wet. Joe Fresh said in a recall notice posted online that there are no safety concerns with the products. Source
  • Ikea recalls select dishes due to risk of breakage and burns

    Canada News CTV News
    TORONTO -- Ikea Canada has issued a recall for select dishes after the company received reports of some of these products breaking, leading to a possible burn risk. In a notice issued on Tuesday, Ikea Canada said it was recalling the Heroisk and Talrika style plates, bowls, and mugs "due to the potential risk of burns from hot contents upon breakage. Source
  • Container ship is the largest of its kind to visit Canada: Halifax Port Authority

    Canada News CTV News
    HALIFAX -- Port officials in Halifax say the largest container ship to visit a Canadian port has arrived at the city's south-end container terminal. A spokesman for the Port of Halifax says the CMA CGM Marco Polo is 396 metres long and can carry the equivalent of 16,022 containers that are each 20-feet long. Source
  • Investing in new coal, oil and gas projects must stop to hit climate goals, global energy agency says

    World News CBC News
    A report by the International Energy Agency says immediate action is needed to reshape the world's energy sector in order to meet ambitious climate goals by 2050, including ending investments in new coal mines, oil and gas wells. Source
  • Quebec reports 549 new COVID-19 cases, 9 more deaths

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Quebec has 549 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of people infected to 364,396 since the start of the pandemic. The province's health officials also confirmed nine more deaths, a total of 11,050 after it was ruled one death was not related to COVID-19. Source
  • Israel resumes airstrikes on Gaza, as Palestinian militants fire more rockets into Israel

    World News CBC News
    Israel bombarded Gaza with airstrikes and Palestinian militants resumed cross-border rocket fire on Tuesday after a brief overnight lull during which the United Nations sent a small fuel convoy into the enclave, where it says 52,000 people are now displaced. Source