Report on anti-Asian racism during pandemic urges government to take action
WINNIPEG -- A new report is shedding light on anti-Asian racism during the pandemic.
More than 1,000 incidents have been reported across the country since last March, through two websites tracking the issue.
It’s during times of fear and uncertainty Winnipegger Arthur Miki feels racial hostility flares up, something the past president of the Asian Heritage Society of Manitoba said community members have been subjected to during the pandemic.
“One being an older gentleman in the supermarket being yelled at by a woman who kept yelling, ‘get away from me, get away from me,’” said Miki. “It was humiliating for that person because he didn’t know how to react.”
The report, released by the Chinese Canadian National Council, found there were 1,150 racist attacks across Canada over the past year. They ranged from verbal harassment, physical assault, and unwanted physical contact to people being coughed at or spat on.
The data, compiled from two websites where people reported racism, shows nearly one-fifth of the incidents occurred at grocery stores or restaurants.
Jennifer Chen, a member of the group Asian Women of Winnipeg and the Women of Colour Community Leadership Initiative, points to what the report also found – that women are often the victims.
“We know especially Asian women are disproportionately affected by anti-Asian racism,” said Chen. “We’ve seen an increasing number of incidents reported by the Asian community across Canada last year.”
Forty-four per cent of the incidents in the past year occurred in British Columbia, 40 per cent in Ontario and three per cent in Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Just last week Claire Venevongsa, owner of Pad Thai restaurant, said her car was vandalized with a vulgar message, prompting her to speak out against hate and racism.
That incident came on the heels of the fatal shootings of eight people, including six Asian women, at Atlanta-area spas.
“While there has always been anti-Asian racism, this pandemic has escalated that issue,” said April Carandang, co-ambassador for the Women’s March Winnipeg.
The report notes COVID-19 quickly became racialized as the “Chinese virus.” A notion the report said is not borne out in facts.
Carandang is calling on governments to take action.
“To begin planning and implementing measures that would maybe stop or mitigate all these hate crimes,” she said.
The report from the Chinese Canadian National Council also urges lawmakers at all levels to fund more supports for victims and survivors and to implement stronger policies to prevent the spread of misinformation online which provokes racism.
Advocates will hold a rally against anti-Asian racism on Saturday. Organizers said it will be honk-a-thon outside the Canadian Museum for Human Rights starting at 11 a.m.