CUPE Ontario welcomed yesterday’s decision that ruled the murders of the Afzaal family members to be an act of terrorism. Five members of the family were targeted and four were killed in a brutal act of hate carried out on June 6, 2021, in London, Ontario.

The decision sends the unmistakable message that white supremacy, Islamophobia, and other forms of hated motivated by extremism will not be tolerated in Canada.

This landmark verdict also affirms the importance of the work that CUPE Ontario, locals and members are engaged in, both through our work to eradicate white supremacy, hatred and discrimination in all its forms, as well as through our work toward equity and inclusion.

“The word ‘terrorism’ is overused and mis-used, especially during these most challenging of days,” said Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario. “Yesterday’s ruling clearly and unequivocally defines as terrorism the crimes that are based in white nationalism, including those crimes of violence that are based in white supremacy and carried out against any member of our community. This legal precedent is critically important to fighting against the white supremacy that is so deeply ingrained into Canadian society.”

In a moving statement, relatives of the Afzaal family shared their observations on the significance of the verdict of Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance, saying in part:

“The terrorism designation acknowledges the hate that fueled this fire, the ugliness that took the lives of Talat, Salman, Madiha and Yumnah. But this hate didn’t exist in a vacuum. It thrived in the whispers, the prejudices, the normalized fear of the other…That hate hidden in plain sight was normalized by the unchallenged belief that a racial hierarchy exists in Canada.

“This trial wasn’t just about one act.  It was a stark reminder of the fault lines that run deep in our society…. Hate is a societal enemy that threatens the very core of Canadian values.

“We must confront the hate, not just condemn it.  Confronting hate means recognizing our own biases… dismantling the system that perpetuates it… [and] actively challenging the narratives that fuel it.”

Hahn concluded: “I pledge on behalf of the members of our union – all 290,000 across the province and especially those who work for and live in the city of London – that we will continue the important work of building solidarity with communities, of fighting Islamophobia, anti-Black racism and all forms of racism based in white supremacy. Our communities, our union, the memory of those tragically taken from us by racist violence demands nothing less.”