47% Increase In Anti-Asian Racism Over Second Year Of Pandemic: Report

“71 per cent of people didn’t report their incidents to any other institution. People don’t feel comfortable, they don’t have trust in those institutions,” says the executive director of the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto.

Canadian Anti-Hate Network

Source: Henry Lu

The second year of the pandemic was marked by a steep rise in anti-Asian racism in Canada, according to a new report.

Released by the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter (CCNCTO) and Project 1907, “Anti-Asian Racism Across Canada: Two Years Into The COVID-19 Pandemic” noted a total of 943 reports of racist incidents across the country in 2021. 

This marks a 47 per cent total increase compared to the year before. 

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“Even as the pandemic evolves, Asian Canadians are still living with the consequences of misguided anger and anti-Asian racism, especially the most vulnerable groups, such as women, children and youth,” Jessie Tang, Executive Director of the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter, said in a press release. “Discrimination, racism, violence and hate hurt our community. This is a systemic issue that requires long-term, committed action by individuals, institutions, and governments at all levels and in all sectors.”

Since 2020, website platforms hosted by CCNCTO and Project 1907 have been collecting self-reported and witness-reported incidents of anti-Asian racism across the country. 

In 2021, nearly two-thirds of these reports (64 per cent) were made by women, an eight per cent increase over the previous year. While reports by men decreased (down by 18 per cent), reports from transgender and gender non-conforming/non-binary people went up 73 per cent and 64 per cent respectively. 

The numbers reflected capture incidents in every province and territory in Canada, with 48 per cent of these incidents reportedly taking place in public spaces such as on streets, sidewalks, or parks. Violent attacks were also a continued trend, with reports of being coughed at or spat on, increasing by 42 per cent.

“Although the data we present here provides some information about trends and patterns, it’s really important to note that this is just a small peek and not representative of the actual number of incidents,” says Ellen K., a community organizer with Project 1907. “If there’s something to take away from this report, it’s not only the numbers–it’s the acknowledgement of the systemic pervasiveness and impacts of anti-Asian racism in Canada.”

According to the respondents, nearly 75% of submitted incidents report perpetrators as white men. 

The ultimate goal of the report is to promote policy changes that help address the specific challenges and overt hatred directed toward Asian communities across the country. This is the second report released tracking these incidents and Tang told the Canadian Anti-Hate Network over the phone that they have been invited to stakeholder meetings and met with government officials to offer their perspectives.  

“From our reporting, 71 per cent of people didn’t report their incidents to any other institution,” she said over the phone. “People don’t feel comfortable, they don’t have trust in those institutions.” 

She added that of those who did report their incidents to other organizations, only five per cent went to law enforcement. 

“Ultimately, there are systemic factors that need to be dealt with.” 

The report's authors are asking both the public and private sectors to supply the financial resources to invest in ongoing, multi-year, sustainable funding and resources to Asian community-based organizations, as well as the creation of anti-racism programs and training that are culturally specific, linguistically accessible, and trauma-informed.

In addition to developing training and fellowship programs to bring more Asian women into politics, they also want to see funding for programs that address “systematic violence toward Asian women, and increase the representation of Asian women in decision-making processes.”

They are also asking for support from Asian communities for the National Council of Canadian Muslims in their efforts to pass Ontario Bill 86, the Our London Family Act. The bill would amend several other acts with the intent to improve provincial hate crime accountability, strengthen laws preventing intimidation tactics targeting worshippers, and more.

While this report centres on the need to address the realities of Asian Canadians in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, it also acknowledges that present day racism is situated in “historical exclusions and settler colonialism.” The recommendations in the report aim to tackle the history and on-going legacies of anti-Asian sentiment in Canada that predate and have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

The full report and recommendations can be read at covidracism.ca.

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