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Buddy Up Toronto has been expanding with encouraging messages online and offers to escort any Muslims and/or woman fearing harassment since its inception after the recent Paris terror attacks saw racists and Islamophobics taking advantage of the horrible and tragic events in Paris.
In fact, its Twitter hashtag #BuddyUpTO and closed Facebook page have been part of an ever expanding network of Canadian cities, including Ottawa and Mississauga, where average men and women have been offering to act as safety buddies if any Muslim and/or woman fears harassment, offering to travel in tandem or actually go out of their way to help people feel safe.
Messages are posted where someone will announce their travel plans and asks if anyone wants to tag along or just offering their general assistance and availability to meet the needs and schedules of those who request a safety buddy.
I can’t speak to older generations who might need this kind of assistance but don’t have access to cellphones or social media — maybe this is an area that members of Buddy Ups need to consider, as different age cohorts might experience different degrees of susceptibility to anti-Muslim or gender specific bullying and harassment? I’m just throwing that out there since I don’t know but I want to acknowledge that this pro-safety movement is heavily linked to access to social media and Internet access.
The movement is still very grassroots so I’m not sure how widespread initiatives in large cities such as Toronto will go but I would actually love to see everyone in Toronto signing up in support and the need to secure safety to decrease over time.
It is unfortunate that in the days after the Paris terror attacks, a woman wearing a hijab was attacked in Flemingdon Park in Toronto and Metro Vancouver police are searching for two women who yelled out racist slurs and attacked a woman on the SkyTrain. In Ontario, both the TTC and GO public transit systems reported incidents where Muslim passengers reported being harassed.
In other sad news around Toronto, a Muslim mother was assaulted and robbed Monday afternoon by two men at a North York school and a Muslim U of T student says he was spat on and insulted.
On Facebook, these sites tend to be closed groups which means you have to ask to join and be vetted by a group moderator. Of course, no one can guarantee that buddy up volunteers are who they say they are, so people will have to do their own diligence.