The Community Impact of Hate Crimes

Presenter #1, Jonathan Lomotey
Researcher, Centre for Community Based Research

Presenter #2, Sidikat Fashola
Researcher, Research and Statistics Divison, Justice Canada

Presenter #3, Joseph Oywak
Program Coordinator with the Reception House Waterloo Region

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This guide contains general information only and is not intended as legal advice. For legal advice, contact a lawyer. (PDF Version, 67 kb, PDF Help)

Federal Symposium, Monday, April 19, 2010
Old City Hall
111 Sussex Drive, Ottawa

Francis Pitia, a disabled Sudanese refugee, was set upon by a group of at least seven thugs, all of them white and believed to be in their 20s, outside a park in Kitchener, Ontario. They screamed racial epithets at Mr. Pitia and two other Sudanese men, before beating him unconscious, using his own crutch to inflict more damage. The attack on Mr. Pitia seems to have been provoked solely by racial hatred.

Globe & Mail: August 1, 2006


Research purpose

  • The purpose of this study was to understand community impact of hate crimes
  • Research Question:
    • What are the emotional, psychological and economic impacts of hate motivated crimes on a community?


  • Kitchener, Ontario
    • Identity community: African-Canadian community of Kitchener-Waterloo
    • Geographic community: Postal Code Area N2G

Who participated in this study

  • 623 individuals
Community Method Total
Survey Focus Group
Identity 196 10 206
Geographic 411 6 417
Total 607 16 623

Research design

  • Case study design
  • Mixed methods approaches: Quantitative and qualitative data gathering methods
  • Community involvement:
    • Consultation with a community reference group, and
    • Hiring and training community researchers

How were they selected?

  • Random sampling - purchase of 4,000 randomly selected phone numbers for postal code area N2G from Survey Sampling International (SSI) for telephone interviews
  • Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS) ? a method that combines snowball sampling with a mathematical model for calculating sampling error
    • RDS begins with interviewing a few selected people (usually 4). At the end of an interview, a participant nominates 4 new people to be recruited
  • Purposive sampling ? selection based on displayed keen knowledge and interest in the incident

How we gathered data

  • The survey
  • Focus groups
  • Electronic media scan

Instruments used:

  • Survey - consisting of three main sections:
    • Section 1: Items for assessing personal impact ? Included the Impact of Event Scale (IES) (Horowitz, Wilmer & Alvarez, 1979)
    • Section 2: Items for assessing community impact and reaction
    • Section 3: Items for collecting demographic information
  • Open ended interview guide for the focus groups

What processes were used for gathering data?

  • Surveying procedures
    • Face-to-face interviewing (Response rate 46.0% )
    • Telephone interviewing (Response rate 17.1% )
  • Focus group facilitation - Interactive discussion of the research topic using open-ended question guides with probes
  • Electronic media scan ? collection of incident related stories and articles from the local and/or mainstream media
    • Keyword/phrase search on media and other online publication websites

Kitchener Case

Selected Demographic Indicators by Community
  African Identity (N=196) Geographic (N=411)
Sex (Male) 65% 45%
Marital Status
(Legally Married)
60% 38%
Median Age Range 30 to 39 40 to 49
Median Annual Household Income Range $20, 000 - $29,999 $50,000 - $59,999
Highest Level of Education
58% 64%
Not born in Canada 99% 17%
Median range of years lived in Canada 5 to 9 years 20 years or more
Median range of years lived in Kitchener 3 to 5 years 10 years or more

Victim Impact

  • The Horowitz Impact of Event Scale (IES) is a validated tool for diagnosing clinical levels of stress, and is often used to study the impact of traumatic events and diagnose post-traumatic stress.
    • 15 subjective questions related to an event
    • Total Stress Score (out of 75):
      • 0-8 = Sub-clinical
      • 9-25 = Mild Range
      • 26-43 = Moderate Range
      • 44+ = Severe Range

Comparison of Averages

  Geographic Community
(Victoria Park Neighbourhood, N=220, Random sample)
Ethnic Community
(African-Canadian Kitchener Residents, N=109, RDS / Snowball sample)
Horowitz Impact of Event Scale
mean 16 out of 75 mean 47 out of 75
  • The surveyed African-Canadian residents of Kitchener experienced severe clinical symptoms of post-traumatic stress from the hate crime incident.
  • The surveyed residents of Kitchener experienced mild clinical symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

Risk factors related to score severity on the IES

Risk factors related to score severity on the IES

In the past five years, do you believe you have been the victim of a hate crime?

In the past five years, do you believe a close friend or a family member has been the victim of a hate crime

Risk factors related to score severity on the IES: Multiple Regression Analysis

Risk Factors

  • Immigrant status
  • Household income
  • Having known a close friend or family member who had been the victim of a hate crime within the past five years
  • Visible minority status
  • Having experienced discrimination or being treated unfairly because of a personal attribute within the past five years

Some people react to traumatic events by trying to protest themselves and their families. Did you have any of the following reactions after the incident?

Protective Measures (Gender Based Analysis)

Avoided going out alone

Sense of Safety

After this incident, did your fear for your personal safety or the safety of your family change it all

Reaching out to the Community

Some people react to traumatic events by reaching out and becoming more active in the community. Did you have any of the following reactions after the incident?

Support Networks

Did you seek support of the following people or organizations to help you deal with your reaction to the incident?

Relationships with other ethnic/cultural communities

In your opinion how has the incident affected the relationship between members of your ethnic/cultural community and members of other ethnic/cultural communities?


  • People in the community samples experienced clinical levels of post-traumatic stress from hates crime that took place in their community
    • Members of the African community experienced more post-traumatic stress than members of the geographic community in which the crime took place.
  • There were certain risk factors that were related to a higher score on the Impact of Event Scale.
  • After the hate-crime incident many people in the community samples experienced increased levels of fear for their personal safety and the safety of their family, especially members of the African community.
  • After the hate crime incident many community members took measures to protect themselves and their family, especially members of the African community.
  • The majority of members of the Kitchener African community felt that the incident strengthened their relationship with other ethnic/cultural communities.

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