asian hate

Nearly half of all anti-Asian racist attacks in Canada during the pandemic were in Ontario

Anti-Asian hatred and violence has seen an alarming surge in Canada and abroad throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and a new report from the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto documents all of the racist attacks and incidents reported across the country through two web portals over the past year.

According to the report, which was released today, there were 1,150 cases of anti-Asian racist attacks and encounters reported across Canada between March 10, 2020 and Feb. 28, 2021. 

Of the total number of incidents, an alarming 40 per cent were reported in Ontario. 

"An Asian-looking TTC driver is chatting with a woman who wears a scarf around her nose and mouth," reads one of the incident reports included in the document.

"The woman began to say that the driver was unprofessional and should not have a conversation. And she began to say that he did not look Canadian, and was angry that there were too many in Canada who did not look Canadian. The woman also said that the driver's English was not good and told the driver to 'go home and learn to speak English'"

The only province to see even more racist outbursts against Asians was British Columbia, with 44 per cent of all incidents taking place there. 

Together, Ontario and B.C. account for 84 per cent of all reported incidents in Canada.

The report indicates that the majority of those impacted by these incidents were East Asians (accounting for 84 per cent of all reported cases), and most of these incidents took place in either public spaces or the food sector. 

Those who identify as women also represent close to 60 per cent of all reported cases, which is particularly notable following a hate crime that saw eight people gunned down at spas in Georgia last week — six of whom were Asian women. 

Those under 18 as well as older adults/seniors (55+) were also much more likely to report being physically assaulted than other age groups (42 per cent and 57 per cent more likely, respectively). 

A total of 10 per cent of all reported attacks and incidents described being coughed or spat on, according to the report.

"Individuals who suffered racist attacks and incidents wanted more public education, collective action against racism, policy changes and more individual support, " notes the report.

In addition to documenting the horrific attacks that have taken place over the course of the year and explaining that anti-Asian hatred is a far from new phenomenon, the report also includes a list of recommendations to better support the community. 

The first recommendation calls for immediate action from all three levels of government, including a commitment to providing anti-racism education, community-based social supports, comprehensive policies to prevent the spread of misinformation on social media and funding for more educational initiatives about the long history of Chinese Canadians and Asian Canadians in Canada. 

The second asks for a targeted approach based on intersectional equity to ensure those who are most vulnerable are protected, including but not limited to seniors, those with limited English fluency, low-income individuals, women, frontline workers, individuals without permanent immigration status, LGBTQ+community members and those facing mental health issues. 

The report also recommends implementing specific protections for frontline and essential workers, including but not limited to income support and paid sick days

"Instead of being recognized as contributing significantly to the fight against COVID-19, Chinese and Asian communities in Canada have been met with racism, violence and attacks. Early adoption of mask wearing in Asian communities became and continues to be marks fo rexclusion and violence," reads the report.

"While we cannot undo the past, we should certainly learn from the lessons they provide. This report and the racism that it documents is a testament of not only how anti-Chinese and anti-Asian racism has long been present (even historically foundational) to Canadian society, but also how it simply takes one tragic pandemic to resurrect the everyday racism against Chinese and Asian communities and drive it into a full blown tidal wave of anti-Chinese and anti-Asian attacks across the nation," it continues.

"We must recognize both the extent and seriousness of these forms of racism and work towards eliminating systemic racism that exists in our societies, to move us towards a Canada and a world that is fair and just for all."

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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