VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — During a pandemic year where Asian people have been increasingly victimized by violence and racism, one student at SFU has organized a blood drive to encourage a sense of community.
Steven Gan is a business student, and also a member of the California Zion Church and he brought people from these communities together Saturday to give blood in Vancouver.
“This pandemic, it’s been hard for all of us, especially with the recent anti-Asian hate crimes that have been happening so I think we should do something, we should work together and be united instead of being divided,” he says.
“I believe that blood symbolizes life and it’s something that we share in common together. Anti-Asian hate crimes, they shed blood, we’re out here giving blood to other people to show that we’re taking the first step. We want to help and we want to make sure that everyone can see this love and can reflect it. At the end of the day, we want the discrimination to end.”
Participants have pledged to become regular, life-long donors.
“I know that especially in this pandemic, blood is very critical. We want to help, and this is what we can do to help. So that’s why we did it.”
According to the Vancouver Police Department, anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 717 per cent in 2020. The Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice has tracked 931 anti-Asian racist incidents in this country during COVID-19
In the US, a white man, Robert Aaron Long, was charged with killing eight people at three Atlanta-area massage parlours last month. The attack has sent terror through the Asian American community, which has increasingly been targeted during the coronavirus pandemic. In several major cities, including New York and Los Angeles, police reported an uptick in Asian-targeted hate crimes between 2019 and 2020, according to data collected by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
Julia Chan is one of the people who joined the blood drive, and says hate crimes targeting elderly Asian people have been especially troubling for her to see.
“For my grandparents, who were born and raised in British Columbia, and yet they still experience a lot of racism. I remember my grandfather telling me stories about how at school he was bullied, and he was even beat up just because he was Asian. And the only place where he felt safe was in his father’s shop, because even in Chinatown where he lived, people would come and try to burn down people’s homes,” she says.
“I think it was only in the last two or maybe three years where I was able to accept that I am Asian, and it’s nothing that I need to be embarrassed about.”
Gan hopes people remember that during this time of global crisis, everyone bleeds the same.
“This is the time that we can build the connection between one another, no matter what race it is, we have to be one.”
With files from The Candian Press and The Associated Press