While most of Canada has been extremely welcoming of refugees from war ridden Syria, there was an unfortunate turn of events at a welcome event in Vancouver this past Saturday, Jan. 9th. Syrian refugees were invited to attend this welcoming event, but were attacked with pepper spray by a man riding by on a bicycle. Police do suspect that this was a hate crime intentionally planned out against Syrian refugees.
The event was taking place outside of the Muslim Association of Canada headquarters and up to 30 refugees were affected by this hate crime, including many young children, which has lead police to launch a manhunt to find the perpetrator. One eye witness has reported that the man was wearing a white hoodie as he rode past on his bicycle.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took to twitter to condemn the attack while also stating “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
Reports state that at least 15 people were treated by paramedics, while others were left unable to see and vomiting on the streets. A young 2 year old girl was in such severe pain she had to be taken to the hospital.
The Vancouver police department released a statement in which they stated: “although the motive for the for the pepper-spraying is unknown at this time, investigators are treating it as a hate-motivated crime, until determined otherwise.” There have been no arrests at this time.
Mayor of Vancouver has expressed his disgust with this attack and says that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated. Canada has welcomed around 6,000 Syrian refugees, just falling short of their original target of 10,000 refugees, they have however vowed to hit this target by the end of the month.