Recognizing Hinduphobia – A Canadian Perspective (Part 2)

This is one of the 10-part series of posts is based on the author’s detailed brief for the Human Rights Commission of Ontario highlighting the rising anti-Hindu sentiment in Canada in general, and Ontario in particular. The other parts of this series can be accessed from the list posted on the right of this page.

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Why HRC (Human Rights Commission) does not fully address the problem of Hinduphobia

Hinduphobia is a growing concern for Canadian Hindus given the recent developments. Hindus are concerned for their own safety, and that of their children, families, homes, temples, and businesses. Hinduphobia is having a negative impact on the mental, physical, emotional, social, political, and economic of Hindu Canadians. The spread of prejudice against Hindus, especially in the media and academia, has negatively impacted the overall image of the Hindu community and Hindu civilization at large in Canadian society. Prejudice against Hindus has served as an impetus and a platform of validation to justify acts of violence, discrimination, and hate against Hindus at work, schools, temples, and so on.

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) of Canada forbids discrimination on the basis of “ancestry, color, race, citizenship, ethnic origin and creed” and therefore, in general, speaks to the rights of all Canadians, including Hindus, to be free from hate and discrimination. The HRC has a “Glossary of Terms” which explains terms, including terms for groups that need specific protection.  The glossary includes terms such as Indigenous, anti-Black, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Asian to specifically recognize these religious, ethno-racial, and geographic groups.  However, the glossary does not mention Hinduphobia. By implication, Hindus are covered under the “anti-Asian hate” group, a massive geographic area with many countries representing all religions and diverse peoples. Most Canadian would be at a loss to identify Hindus as Asians. A review of reports on anti-Asian hate in media and by organizations such as Anti-Hate Network, Canada, mentions Chinese Canadians as the targets.

The main problem with including Hindus under the Anti-Asian hate group is that Hinduism is not a geographic identity, but a religious identity. While Hinduism was born in India (not South Asia, which is a term of erasure of Indian identity), and the majority of Hindus come from India, Canada has a sizable number of Hindus from other countries such as the UK, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Fiji, Mauritius, Kenya, Uganda, and others.

Because the term Hinduphobia (or any other term such as Hindumesia and anti-Hindu) has not been specifically recognized in the HRC glossary, the problem of Hinduphobia is not being recognized or addressed. For example, in consultations with the head of the Inclusion and Equity dept of a school board, we were told point-blank that Hinduphobia does not exist in their system, despite serving a large Hindu population. Further discussion revealed that incidents of Hinduphobia reported by parents and students were not being identified or documented or responded to under the category of Hinduphobia because there is no awareness that the problem of Hinduphobia exists. It’s a kind of circular thinking that Hindus are finding frustrating: How to address the problem of Hinduphobia if there is a denial that the problem even exists?

Parents felt that due to the lack of education and training about what is Hinduphobia and how to ‘spot it’ when it occurs, Hindus are routinely told that Hinduphobia does not exist and no one ever has reported “Hinduphobia” to them.

We have faced the brick wall of ‘There is no Hinduphobia in our agency and therefore we do not need to learn anything about it’ when parents approached a child welfare agency with our concerns about incidents of Hinduphobia in their staff training program. This error of omission has led to the worsening of systemic and institutional Hinduphobia and has become an impediment to the work that needs to be done to address this problem across public schools, workplaces, and other institutions such as Children Aid Societies. The systemic barriers, to being heard, acknowledged or understood, that Hindus face today can be compared to those faced by Indigenous peoples. The community is aware that it has taken over a hundred years for Canada to recognize racism against them and still racism against them remains a serious concern.

When political leaders promote Hinduphobia

The democratic system of government works on the premise that elected representatives will always act in the best interest of the people they represent – not just those who voted for them but ALL the people in their respective constituencies. It is, therefore, a sad day for democracy when an elective representative, the leader of a major political party – no less, publically promotes a hateful narrative against a minority community in his/her constituency. Such is the case with Mr. Jagmeet Singh Dhaliwal, the leader of the National Democratic Party, as one of his tweets shows [1].


Go directly to a specific part of this series
  1. Part 1: Hinduphobia in Ontario and Canada – Introduction
  2. Part 2: Why HRC does not fully address the problem of Hinduphobia
  3. Part 3: What is Hinduphobia?
  4. Part 4: A Theoretical framework to understand Hinduphobia
  5. Part 5: Generalized Hinduphobia
  6. Part 6: Appropriation and lack of acknowledgment of positive contributions of Hindu civilization
  7. Part 7: Canada’s White Only History policy: overcoming a legacy of Racism
  8. Part 8: Hinduphobia in the Media
  9. Part 9: Hinduphobia in Academia/Universities
  10. Part 10: Examples of Hinduphobic Incidents in Canada

Dr. Ragini Sharma, PhD, has worked for over 25 years with individuals, families and communities of diverse backgrounds to support their human dignity and for their economic, social and political rights. She is a passionate educator of Hinduism and has represented Hindu perspective at numerous interfaith events.

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