A Confederate flag hangs in front of a Hamilton home

[Le drapeau confédéré] celebrates slavery and the murder of a black personaccording to Elizabeth Simons, the deputy director of the Canadian-Anti Hate Network [CAHN, Réseau anti-haine canadien, traduction libre].

The Confederate flag, a blue cross on a red background decorated with 13 white stars, symbolizes the Southern states opposed to the abolition of slavery and which rebelled against the North during the American Civil War (1861-1865).

The presence of this flag in the southern Ontario town deeply shocks Amie Archibald-Varley, who is Canadian of Jamaican origin.

However, the police claim that they cannot compel the owner to remove the flag. Moreover, the person who lives in the house in question justifies himself by saying that he have the right to fly the Confederate flag on his property.

The symbol of a threat

Every time Ms Archibald-Varley sees the flag, which sits outside a house in Binbrook, a rural part of Hamilton, she says she feels fear and confusion. She lives very close to the house in question.

I have young children. […] They are also racialized. […] It’s worrying because I wonder if my children are going to face this kind of hatred. Are my children going to be called “word for n” or live in fear?

Ms Archibald-Varley posted a message on Twitter on Sunday about the flag which caught the attention of the CAHNof the Hamilton Area Anti-Racism Coalition [HAARC, Coalition anti-racisme de la région de Hamilton, traduction libre] and the Hamilton Center For Civic Inclusion [HCCI, Centre de Hamilton pour l’inclusion civique, traduction libre].

Why would anyone think that’s okay? she asked.

I have the right

CBC Hamilton visited the tenant of the house on Tuesday afternoon. The flag was still there.

The person who answered the door, who refused to identify himself, said that he don’t care what other people think and that she doesn’t think the flag is racist.

This person also said that the flag had been there for over two years and no complaints had ever been received.

I deploy it for freedom. It’s my choice. I live in a free countrysaid the resident.

I am an individual and I have the right. […] It’s not offensive. It all depends on how you choose to watch it.


The fact that [l’homme qui affiche ce drapeau] justifies itself by evoking its freedom of expression is not surprising for us. […] It’s unfortunate that the owner feels this wayaccording to Ms. Simons.

The general manager of HAARCLyndon George, said that this situation is a stark reminder of all the work that remains to be done to fight racism.

The experiences of those who are deeply troubled by [la présence de] these flags and symbols are truehe recalled. It’s disgusting to see it where we live.

The police can’t help it, they say

Last summer, Hamilton city councilors voted to ban the Confederate flag and Nazi swastika on city property, classifying them as symbols of hate.

The bylaw, however, does not prohibit residents from displaying such symbols on their lawns or private properties.

Hamilton grapples with a reputation for hate. Statistics Canada data shows it had the highest rate of hate crimes per capita in the country in 2019, 2018, 2016 and 2014.

Hamilton Police spokesperson Jackie Penman said officers met with the person who lives in the home in question because of the controversy over Ms Archibald-Varley’s Twitter post.

The resident confirmed to CBC that Hamilton police came by Monday evening. Ms Penman said the police met with the owner to make him aware of the impact on the community of the presence of this flag.

Unfortunately, there is currently no legislation that would provide grounds for police to lay charges or compel the owner to remove the flag.Ms. Penman said.

[Seule] the intention to commit a criminal offense such as the deliberate promotion of hatred or public incitement to hatred, for examplecould allow the police to intervene.

According to Ms. Simons, CAHN argues that the flag breaks the law but that police departments are too lenient in their interpretation of the law.

According to Kojo Damptey, executive director of the HCCI, this situation shows that the laws relating to hate symbols are not strict enough.

First, we should amend the penal code. Second, there should be provincial laws that legislate the standard definition of a hate crime. And at the municipal level, municipalities should ensure in their bylaws that no hate symbols can be displayed on City property and private property.said Mr. Damptey.

Politicians to act, says Ms Archibald-Varley

Ms Archibald-Varley said that despite including Mayor Fred Eisenberger and MPP Donna Skelly in her tweets about the flag, she received no response from them.

CBC Hamilton did not get a response from Ms. Skelly or Mr. Eisenberger.

The City’s social media account responded to one of Ms Archibald-Varley’s tweets asking her to report the incident to the police.

Ms Archibald-Varley said elected officials should denounce the presence of this flag.

There are a lot of racialized people here. We feel alone. We feel like we’re not being heard and I think it’s time people stood up.

With information from The Canadian News


Leave a Comment