VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs is condemning an anti-Asian attack on an Indigenous woman, calling it a hateful act of violence.
On Friday night, 27-year-old Dakota Holmes was punched in the face by a man who yelled racist slurs after she sneezed in an East Vancouver park.
Grand Chief Steward Phillip, who is the president of UBCIC, says acts of violence aimed at women of colour have no place in B.C.
“It’s disgusting [and] cowardly, and there needs to be greater accountability for those countless individuals that are assaulting women of colour.”
Holmes was knocked to the ground in the attack and suffered bruises to her face as she was walking her dog, Kato, to the park near St. Catherine’s Street and East 33 Avenue when her seasonal allergies flared up.
Holmes says that out of nowhere, a man approached her and told her to “go back to Asia” and proceed to hit her in the face.
“He was saying all these racist slurs and everything about COVID. All this stuff. I was just confused, this happened so quickly. I was lucky to have my dog with me. He was very protective. He was able to stand ground in between me and the guy,” she told NEWS 1130 on Saturday.
This is my daughter Dakota. We are Indigenous. She was walking her dog last night in #Vancouver when a #racist guy heard her sneezing. He yelled at her, punched her and walked away. He thought she was Asian and her sneezing was #COVID19. @VPD attended. #racism #RacismIsAVirus pic.twitter.com/mBhVgdFaBk
— Don Bain (@lheidli1) May 17, 2020
As the man assaulted her, she says she told the man was not of Asian descent, but the man “kept telling me to go back to China.”
“He just kind of walked away pretty quickly, just left me on the ground. I was just shaken up a little bit,” she added.
Holmes describes the man as white, 5’11”, and weighing over 200 lbs.
She told NEWS 1130 as an Indigenous woman, she is aware of the discrimination, racism, and violence that persists throughout the region.
“It’s sad to say that I’m used to these kinds of actions. It’s not the first time I’ve been punched in the face. Hopefully, it’s the last time. But this kind of stuff is just another day. I’m an Indigenous woman who faces this stuff on a daily basis.”
Phillip says while there is “no doubt that racism is, an unfortunate pronounced dimension in today’s society,” he is hoping there will be stronger consequences for hate crime assaults and more vigorous investigations to keep perpetrators accountable for their “cowardly” actions.
Vancouver police have said there has been an increase in reports of anti-Asian hate-motivated incidents and criminal acts amid the COVID-19 pandemic. So far this year 20 similar incidents have been recorded – compared to 12 reported last year.
The Vancouver Police tell NEWS 1130 their initial investigation shows the assault “may have been related to race,” and Diversity Detection and Hate Crimes Investigators are looking to the assault.
“As a police service, we work hard to build strong relationships with marginalized groups in our community and encourage anyone who has experienced hate, bigotry, or discrimination to call us. Hate crimes and hate incidents have always been significantly under-reported,” an email from VPD Sgt. Aaron Roed reads.
Roed encourages witnesses and victims of hate crimes to call the police so they can investigate “help people feel safe and secure.”