April 2021 - News and the impacts of Atlanta spa shootings in the US on March 16 reverberated quickly on Canadian shores with protest rallies happening in major cities like Toronto, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal and Vancouver during the last weekend of March denouncing violence against Asians. The Atlanta shooting was not a singular anti-Asian incident but was one that sadly fell in the category of mass shooting with six of the fatalities identified as Asian Americans.
Here in Canada, anti-Asian crimes have skyrocketed just in the last year. A federally funded report conducted by the Chinese Canadian National Council details findings of over 1,100 anti-Asian racist activities across Canada, attributing 44 percent of those cases reported to British Columbia and 40 percent to Ontario with 11 per cent of total incidents reported as involving violent assault or unwanted physical contact.
In Vancouver alone, the Vancouver Police Department reported a staggering 717 percent increase of anti-Asian hate crimes just over the past year with just 12 reported cases in 2019 growing to 98 in 2020.
All reports only take into consideration those cases that were actually reported to police and support groups. Not all victims report such cases, choosing not to “make a fuss” in their or their parents’ adoptive country.
Enough is enough. We, particularly Canadian Filipinos, can and should no longer suffer in silence. We have earned our place in Canada and we deserve respect in our rightful place. Simply put, we ARE Canadians. We have brought our culture over from the Philippines and raised our children in the values of the Filipino family, and these are the same values that continue to contribute to Canada’s economic and social well-being as a nation.
At a rally in Vancouver, former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh spoke against those who foment violence, “Contend with your racism, clean yourself up and become a good Canadian like all of us are. The Asian community has been here for more than 150 years and are as Canadian as anyone else in this country and are here to stay.”
Let your voices be heard and your opinions known. Write to your Members of Parliament, Members of Legislative Assembly and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Tell them that they should be walking the talk of equality for all, that safety is assured for people of all colours and that lip service will not do.
Engage with your community because there is always strength in numbers. Peaceful protests (with masks and physical distancing, of course) is one way to show solidarity. If you are active in social media, use that as a tool for advocacy.
In the workplace, never let your accent or skin colour get in the way of pursuing your dreams and ambitions. Never let snide remarks, whispered insults or folks laughing at the way you speak get in the way of your dedication and hard work. Remember that having an accent means you know at least one more language than that native English-speaker.
Speak up. Never stay away from a good debate as long as the issues you raise make sense and will benefit not just your peace of mind but everyone else’s.
Watch out for signs of gaslighting; they may be manifestations of racism casually delivered with a smile. Statements like “I don’t know what you’re talking about” or “Stop taking things personally” delivered in a soft, yet condescending, voice could very well be veiled sarcasm. Don’t forget too how “he must have been having a bad day” is an unacceptable excuse for any sort of violence.
Lastly, if we ask everyone to fight racism, so should we also treat everyone, whether a person of colour or not, with the same respect that we demand. Behavioural change involves allowing the freedom to speak freely, to even disagree but never to stifle those conversations.
Racism is not new; it has been simmering under the surface for a very long time. The COVID-19 virus brought the heat up to a boiling point. But please, don’t ever let it burn you.
By Rachel Ramos-Reid
For the CFNet Editorial Board