Posted By KENNEDY GORDON , EXAMINER STAFF WRITER
The last three years have seen at least 20 incidents of violence against Asian-Canadian anglers in central Ontario--and that has to stop, says Italo Labignan.
Labignan, the host of Canadian Sportfishingon TSN, was in Peterborough on Thursday to introduce a new public service announcement.
Produced by the Community and Race Relations Committee of Peterborough, the short TV spot features Labignan sharing his experiences as an angler, an immigrant and a caring Canadian.
"It's like road rage, but fishing rage," said Labignan Thursday at the New Canadians Centre on Sherbrooke St. "Maybe they're not catching anything. Maybe they have other problems at home. But they should not be taking it out on other people."
Committee co-ordinator Mike Ma said the PSA started to take shape last year.
"It takes a while to come up with a script, with ideas, to make it work and to get people's attention," he said. "It always takes much longer to develop a media piece like this."
Ma said the PSA cost about $5,000 to produce.
The video was shot near Hamilton last year and features Labignan speaking frankly about violence along the water.
"We're hoping this announcement gets the message across," Labignan said.
Ma said talks are underway to have the PSA aired on Ontario TV stations. It can also be seen online at http://www.youtube.com/crrcpeterborough.
The launch of the PSA was timed to coincide with the sentencing of Trevor Middleton, which was scheduled for Friday in a Newmarket court. Middleton was convicted of aggravated assault and criminal negligence in an attack on a group of Asian- Canadian anglers on Sept. 16, 2007. Middleton, 23, shouted racial slurs as he rammed his vehicle into a vehicle belonging to anglers of Asian descent. One person was hurt.
Labignan said his work has taken him across Canada and throughout North America.
"I've seen my share of incidents," said Labignan, who moved to Canada from the former Yugoslavia in 1964. He now lives near Welland and knows many skilled Asian-Canadian anglers who specialize in fishing the many rivers that wind through the Niagara Peninsula.
"I've actually witnessed people getting bullied and almost getting into fights, which is very sad when they're supposed to be out having fun."
City police Const. Steve Dyer said incidents like that haven't happened in the area.
"Around the province, we're aware of several disturbing incidents that have been reported," he said. "Locally, in the city of Peterborough and the village of Lakefield, we haven't had any reported incidents, and we can attribute some of that to our proactive approach to education. Last year we educated more than 5,000 high school students."
The city police and the race relations committee have teamed up with Parks Canada, which operates the Trent-Severn Waterway, to create an awareness program called Fishing Without Fear, said Jack Alexander, the director of canal operations.
Dyer commended the committee for creating the PSA.
"With this public service announcement, this is another tool to help make sure everyone in our communities and along our waterways can enjoy our area."
Click here to view the article on the Peterborough Examiner website