'It’s just really disturbing': swastika sign found on hospital property

Swastika sign found at Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare in Windsor, Ont. (Source: Janice Kaffer / Twitter)

The CEO of Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare is speaking out after a makeshift swastika flag was found near the hospital property entrance earlier this week.

The painted sign was found by staff Tuesday morning and resembled an altered Canadian flag with the maple leaf replaced by a swastika.

“It’s just really disturbing that this is where we are as a community. That this sort of thing, is seen by somebody to be okay,” says CEO Janice Kaffer.

This offensive garbage was posted at our hospital today

I have no idea why someone would do this at a hospital that serves our community with honour, compassion & dignity

?? it’s the anonymous ‘guy’ who has emailed me++ about speaking out in favour of public safety?#disgrace pic.twitter.com/4JiNxDNn7o

— Janice kaffer (@KafferJkaffer) April 6, 2021

Windsor police say this is the second occurrence of a recent hate motivated crime days officers are investigating.

Police responded to a report of a Canadian flag with a swastika on it staked in the ground in the 300 block of Tecumseh Road East on Tuesday around 2:15 p.m.

Officers were then alerted to another flag where the maple leaf had been replaced by a swastika Wednesday around 9 a.m. in the 1400 block of Prince Road.

Police say both investigations are still in their initial stages and the Morality Unit is seeking the public’s assistance with any information in relation to these incidents.

“The Windsor Police Service denounces all criminal acts, especially those that promote hatred toward anyone. Hate crime has a harmful impact on the community,” a WPS news release said.

Kaffer says the sign was immediately thrown in the trash, but contemplated drawing attention to the situation.

“I think that’s the struggle that everybody has who is targeted by hatred and this sort of ugliness,” she says.

Kaffer tells CTV News it’s important to ‘call-out’ this kind of behaviour, because of how difficult things are for people during the pandemic.

“We need to have some understanding that people are going through some really hard times, and this anger and this frustration is bubbling up and there are appropriate ways to talk about how angry and frustrated people are,” Kaffer adds. “This kind of activity is absolutely not an appropriate coping mechanism.”

HDGH officials are in the process of launching an anti-racism task group, but Kaffer admits it’s been challenging to get off the ground due to the amount of attention focused on the pandemic.

“We have a wide variety of individuals in our organization who come from all sorts of backgrounds and ethnicities, different sexual orientations, different life experiences and that is why we’re a rich and wonderful team at Hotel-Dieu Grace,” says Kaffer.

Kaffer says she isn’t ruling out any ideas of who may have placed the sign on hospital property, noting she recently blocked an anonymous individual who does not agree with her push for public safety awareness. However, Kaffer says since sharing the situation online, others have said similar swastika signs have been discovered around the neighbourhood.

“That kind of a sign is meant to bring shock value,” she says. “It’s meant to, I think in some ways, hurt individuals and so I was glad that it was removed as quickly as it was.”

Anyone in the area of the 300 block of Tecumseh Road East and 1400 block of Prince Road with surveillance cameras are requested to check their footage for any suspicious persons or activity.

Those with information are asked to contact Windsor Police at 519-255-6700 ext. 4343, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 519-258-8477 (TIPS) or online at www.catchcrooks.com