VANCOUVER (CityNews) — Anti-Asian racism is on the rise in Vancouver and across Canada, but a two-day forum hosted by the University of British Columbia aims to chart a path forward for combatting hate.
The event comes just days after an Angus Reid poll found younger, and lower-income Asian-Canadians are more likely to be targeted by bigotry, with one in four participants reporting exposure to discrimination “all the time” or “often.” More than half of those surveyed say the discrimination has been hurtful, with the negative effects persisting after the incident itself.
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UBC President Santa Ono said The National Forum on Anti-Asian Racism in Canada seeks to identify “bold actions, key priorities, and pathways forward” for addressing anti-Asian hate.
“Anti-Asian racism will not be eradicated because of a two-day forum, of course, but we believe the forum will help spur a much-needed national conversation,” he said.
Thursday’s session was open to the public, and speakers noted Canadians’ persistent denial that racism exists in this country,
Henry Yu, a history professor at UBC, addressed this issue and pointed out that anti-Asian racism existed before COVID-19 pandemic, and won’t simply disappear when the pandemic is over.
“If you think that after COVID is gone, the racism is gone, then you will be surprised again when it comes back the next time. Housing affordability, blame Chinese. If there are problems between Canada and China, what will we do in terms of blaming Chinese-Canadians for things that aren’t in their control?” he said.
Forum participants agreed the discussions are a good starting point.
“Just trying to get people to acknowledge anti-Asian racism was a thing. It was an entirely different landscape a couple years ago,” said Olivia Lim
But Amy Go with the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice said she hopes people remain committed to fighting hate even if it stops making headlines.
“We saw a huge uptick of interest after the tragedy in Atlanta. If that brought you into this conversation that’s great, but what prevented you from being here before that? And how do you plan to sustain your support?” –
The national forum continues Friday.