Chinese Canadian group creates ‘Stop the Spread’ awareness program aimed at COVID-19 related racism

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The Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice launched its “Stop the Spread” campaign at Nathan Philips Square on Tuesday, aimed at combating racism related to the coronavirus.

Members of the group dressed in hazmat suits gave out customized hand sanitizer with messages such as, “Protects against toxic behaviour,” and “works best with common sense.”

“I think a lot of people, their reaction is, inadvertently discriminatory and bias,” a member told Global News. “So we just call on people to treat their Canadian friends and fellow Canadians with respect and with also the appropriate attitude that we should have for others.

The campaign was created as a “result of the global rise of the coronavirus and the subsequent media attention leading to an alarming rise in a different kind of sickness—racism directed towards the Chinese Canadian community,” a press release said.

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Torontonians in the area who passed by the group told Global News they were in support of the message.

“[It’s] such an important message that racism shouldn’t be happening anywhere,” said one woman. “But particularly in Toronto it’s shocking that it’s happening. So it’s a brilliant way to capture people’s attention.”

Multiple businesses in Toronto’s Chinatown and Chinese food restaurants in the province have reported a decline in business in the wake of the coronavirus.

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On Monday, the owner of Golden Chopsticks, a kosher Chinese food restaurant, Mali Gafny, told Global News sales are down 75 per cent compared to the same time last year.

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“Business is bad — very bad,” said Gafny about his restaurant that has been in business for 23 years.

“People come here and ask me if it’s safe to eat here, and I say of course it’s safe. Our people wear gloves and sometimes we wear masks. We are very clean and we clean twice a day,” he continued.

Restaurants aren’t the only ones being affected by xenophobia, either. The Asian Canadian community is also seeing the negativity.

Terri Chu of Toronto told Global News in early January when only two cases were reported in the province that she’s seen multiple cases of racism on Twitter.

“We’ve seen people talk about the dirty Chinese eating habits [online], wanting to quarantine everyone who’s been to Asia,” she said at the time.

As of Tuesday, there have been 20 reported cases of the virus in Ontario.

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People can read more about the Stop the Spread campaign here.

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