Who would think that this is happening in Ontario? We are so tolerant of others that you would think that this would be occurring somewhere else. Unfortunately racism and bigotry occurs all around and now some of the hate crimes that happened have placed a stain on Simcoe country’s once tranquil atmosphere. By: Adrian P

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In the cottage area north of Toronto, an odious practice has been around long enough to have earned a place in local slang: “nippertipping.”

The term refers to a pastime that folks around the town of Sutton on Lake Simcoe say has been whispered about for years, even decades: sneaking up behind Asian anglers on late-night fishing excursions and pushing them into the lake.

The nickname is derived from a derogatory term for people of Japanese descent, but is applied to all Asians targeted by mischief makers. Night-time fishing is popular among many Asians.

The shadowy practice of “nippertipping” has been cast in a garish light in recent weeks, and condemned as racist violence by Barbara Hall, chief commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The York Region police, after some initial reluctance, have begun investigating such attacks as hate crimes, focusing on four recent incidents, including one in mid-September that left a 23-year-old Toronto man in a coma. The mayor of the township that includes Sutton has formally apologized to the Chinese community.

While this news was making headlines in Toronto late last month, the Toronto Star reported that three Toronto men of Asian background had been threatened by an axe-wielding man while on a fishing trip to the Rideau Lakes Township village of Westport. The immediate assumption was that this was more of the same racist mischief-making.

More “nippertipping.”

The assumption seemed to be confirmed when Westport-area OPP said they were investigating another incident, an alleged assault against three Asian fishermen in the area two weeks earlier.

There have been no charges or arrests in either case, but the reports were enough to convince Ms. Hall to fire off a letter to the local paper, the Westport Review Record, condemning the incidents and lumping them in with what was happening in other parts of the provinces.

But the people of Westport, their MPP Bob Runciman, and even the chairman of an Asian angling association, beg to differ.

They say that, unlike reports about Sutton, there is no long-established practice of attacking Asian fisherman in the area. And though they don’t condone acts of violence, they’re sure that any confrontations stem not from racism but from long-simmering frustration with what locals see as an inability by the Ministry of Natural Resources to crack down on illegal fishing in the area.

Neil Kudrinko, who owns a grocery store in Westport, is among those who have been trying to raise the issue with authorities for years.

“It’s pretty frustrating,” Mr. Kudrinko said this week. “We’re just asking for the rules that are on the books to be enforced.”

The issue first came to the fore two years ago, when the Westport and Area Outdoors Association distributed a notice to local residents asking them to be on the lookout for illegal fishing, particularly at night. The group charged that there was “an organized group of men from the Toronto area intent on removing large quantities of fish from local lakes, regardless of size and species.”

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