Demonstrators held up anti-racist signs at at a rally in front of Vancouver city hall rally. (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press)

RADICALIZATION AT HOME

New anti-radicalization centre in the works for B.C.

Centre aims to help ‘vulnerable individuals on the path to radicalization’ before they turn to crime

A proposed anti-radicalization centre in the works for B.C. could be key to stopping violent extremism before it takes root.

That’s according to UBC political science professor Chris Erickson, who said although British Columbia is not a “hotbed for radicalism,” the government is making the right move by introducing a Countering Radicalization to Violence Centre.

“Radicalization doesn’t really restrict itself geographically,” said Erickson. “A lot of it is done through online forums that are coming from all over the world.”

The government will award a one-year contract on April 1 to provide services valued at under $30,000 per year at the new centre.

The facility aims to help “vulnerable individuals on the path to radicalization before engaging in criminal behaviour,” said a B.C. public safety ministry spokesperson, as well as “reduce the level of violent extremism across the province.”

The new centre will work also with the federal Office for Community Outreach and Countering Radicalization to Violence.

Canada’s National Terrorism Threat Level has been at medium, meaning a violent act of terrorism “could occur,” since October 2014.

How at risk is B.C.?

Erickson said there is risk anywhere that has an increasingly diverse population. Immigrants make up 28 per cent of B.C.’s population, though he said it’s not necessarily the newcomers who create tension.

“You also have radicalization from the people who were there already and seeing the immigrants coming in,” he said. “A sort of ‘Hey, this is our place, we don’t want you here’ sort of attitude.

“Radicalization builds on what sound like very common sense positions and just takes them to an extreme.”

When it gets dicey, Erickson said, people begin to view “the other” as a threat to their existence. “But it’s not like your existence is a threat to mine. We need to start to see each other as human beings, as opposed to some opposing force that threatens each other’s very existence.”

He said it’s especially important in areas where immigrants make up close to half the population, like the Lower Mainland, which sets a “groundwork against which people could become radicalized.”

In Richmond, where immigrants make up 60 per cent of the population, tensions have arisen over Chinese language-only signs. In December, a man was charged after calling a woman “a whore and a slut” while riding public transit.

Fake blood was poured on statues of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary in Cloverdale last fall, and someone scrawled “Kill all Christians” on the walls of a church in North Delta. In White Rock, police investigated after a swastika was spray-painted in a park.

White nationalism is not as prevalent in B.C. as it is south of the border, but Erickson said it occasionally rears its head, making it worth watching out for.

“Radicalism comes into strong effect when people feel alienated… when they don’t feel seen, they don’t feel like they’re human beings. At that point, what do you have left to lose?” he said.

“If you can address that, then the need to be radicalized – which I would argue is really a need to be heard – diminishes.”

How do you stop it?

“Safe spaces” have gained popularity in recent years as places where marginalized groups, such as the LGBTQ community, can go without fear of being discriminated against or shamed.

Erickson said that opportunity should be available to all groups, even ones that aren’t traditionally thought of as disadvantaged, so as to stop the problem before it gets too large.

The centre should drill down to people’s concerns, he said, and hear them and address them before they get too far along and can no longer be helped.

“They (hardcore radicals) are typically surrounded by a group of people who aren’t there yet,” he said. “But that seems to be the only option that’s available, so that’s where they’re going. You could potentially address that group.”


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Elk Valley mayors to lead hospital district board

Dean McKerracher, David Wilks elected to Kootenay East Regional Hospital District Board

Rezoning paves way for next stages of Montane Fernie

Multi-family units, cottages, recreational facilities planned as part of multimillion-dollar project

Ghostriders defuse Dynamiters at home

Game 13 proves unlucky for Mountain division leaders Kimberley

It’s the last day to vote in B.C.’s referendum on electoral reform

Ballots must now be dropped off in person to meet the deadline of 4:30 p.m.

Snow removal in Fernie causes issues for disabled

Grace Brulotte speaks out about snow removal in Fernie; sparks online debate

VIDEO: This B.C. school leads country in vaccine donations to UNICEF

Federally funded Kids Boost Immunity uses quizzes to earn vaccinations

Boeser scores 3, Pettersson has 5 points as Canucks hammer Blues

Vancouver picks up impressive 6-1 win in St. Louis

B.C. police stop drunk driver who offered up burger instead of ID

Roadblock checks over the weekend found at least two other impaired drivers

In Canada, the term ‘nationalism’ doesn’t seem to have a bad rap. Here’s why

Data suggest that Canadians don’t see the concept of nationalism the way people do in the United States

Small quake recorded west of Vancouver Island

No injuries or tsunami warning after 5.4 rumble felt some 400 kilometres from Victoria

B.C. suspends Chinese portion of Asian forestry trade mission due to Huawei arrest

Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of U.S. in Vancouver

Canadians spent $1.7 billion dollars online in December 2017

Online retail sales accounted for 3.4 per cent of total retail sales

2-year investigations nets $900,000 in refunds for payday loan customers

Consumer Protection BC says selling practices were ‘aggressive and deceptive’

China: Canada’s detention of Huawei exec ‘vile in nature’

Huawei is the biggest global supplier of network gear for phone and internet company

Most Read