Black women wearing hijabs have been attacked twice in past week at Edmonton's Southgate Centre, a popular shopping destination in the Alberta city. Police are treating the assaults as hate crimes.(Google Street View)

Another woman wearing a hijab is attacked in Edmonton

Police in Edmonton are investigating what appears to be the second hate crime in less than a week.

Both assaults were directed at black women wearing hijabs, both took place at the Southgate Centre mall, a popular shopping location.

In the more recent incident, a 23-year-old Black woman was assaulted at the Southgate Light Rail station on Tuesday morning.

Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee, pictured in February, minced no words in condemning the attacks. (CBC/Richard Marion)

The Chief of the Edmonton Police Service, Dale McFee, said the woman was accosted by a stranger who repeatedly tried to strike her in the head with a shopping bag while yelling racially-motivated obscenities at her.

The victim ran away while the attacker tried to “thwart her escape,” before a transit peace officer at the scene intervened and called police.

McFee said a 32-year-old woman has been charged with assault with a weapon in the attack, which he described as “unprovoked.”

Alberta Premier Jason Kenny quickly condemned the assault.

So did McFee.

“This type of behaviour is not accepted in our city and it’s not going to be tolerated,” McFee said.

“These are a few people and a few incidents and we need to continue to limit those and prevent those, but this isn’t reflective of what we expect or what we generally see from the citizens of Edmonton.

“We’re seeing what’s playing out south of our borders with some of the civil and social unrest that’s going on there.

Obviously we’re not immune to that and we’re seeing some of it play out here.”

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson called the two assaults “heartbreaking,” saying “the responsibility to condemn racially motivated behaviour falls on all of us.”

Edmonton’s Hate Crimes and Violent Extremism Unit is recommending that Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada be applied in the case, as it was in last week’s assault on a Somali mother and daughter in Southgate Centre parking lot.

The section allows the courts to consider increased sentencing when there is evidence an offence was motivated by hatred.

According to Statistics Canada, approximately 2,000 hate-motivated crimes occurred in Canada in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

A report by the CBC’s Jason Procter in June found that only 31 per cent of the hate-motivated crimes that took place in Canada in 2018 were solved.

Police said the two cases in Edmonton are not connected.

With files from CBC News (Wallis Snowdon), The Canadian Press (Fakiha Baig)

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