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Diverse communities in Calgary facing discrimination over Cargill’s COVID-19 cases

Click to play video 'Diverse communities in Calgary facing discrimination over Cargill’s COVID-19 cases' Diverse communities in Calgary facing discrimination over Cargill’s COVID-19 cases
WATCH: With concerns growing about COVID-19 outbreaks at Alberta meatpacking plants, so too is a troubling sentiment of racism. As Jill Croteau reports, community groups supporting members of a diverse community say their connection to Cargill is making them a target for discrimination.

Culturally focused care packages for those in isolation are being prepared around the clock at the Centre For Newcomers.

President and CEO, Anila Lee Yuen, said her team is grateful to be supporting the community in such a time of need.

Concern is growing after many have become targets for discrimination.

READ MORE: ‘Death is so real’: Immigrant group says meat workers afraid after COVID-19 plant closure

“It’s unfortunate when people are in extreme stress,” Lee Yuen said.

“Sometimes, we scapegoat in ways we shouldn’t.

“It’s up to our community to provide better facts to support the community as a whole.”

Preparing food hampers for community.
Preparing food hampers for community. Jill Croteau/Global News

Many diverse community members with connections to Cargill, the meat packing plant in High River, have been forced into quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: Employee at Cargill plant died within days of feeling ill, union says another is critical

The community group supporting them, Action Dignity, said the crisis has brought to the surface a dark side of humanity. Marichu Antonio said they need support and respect.

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“They are being treated like they are the virus that needs to be removed from the community,” Antonio said.

“We should see them as victims – patients – who need care and dignity.”

“The online hate is starting to build up,” Antonio said. “It’s a brewing sentiment and an emerging trend we need to stop. To be turned away going grocery shopping or turned away from banks? This is not good, it hurts them.”

Click to play video 'Alberta Filipino community ‘worried for our lives’ as members test positive for COVID-19' Alberta Filipino community ‘worried for our lives’ as members test positive for COVID-19
Alberta Filipino community ‘worried for our lives’ as members test positive for COVID-19

Cesar Cala leads the Filipino Emergency Response Task Force. He said the pandemic is bringing to light stereotyping that has existed for a long time.

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“It unearthed the issues simmering before COVID-19.

“This crisis has brought out to the open some of those vulnerabilities that people face because of their employment, their status and of course how they look,” Cala said.

He said the Filipino community is facing blame for the virus because of living arrangements in multiple households. He insists this isn’t a lifestyle choice; it’s one of survival.

READ MORE: 1 death connected to Cargill meat plant in High River as plant ‘idles’ processes

“What people don’t realize — it’s part if the bigger picture,” Cala said. “We are bringing in temporary foreign workers and their families are back home.”

“As part of their survival, they need to share resources with housing and transportation.”

Action Dignity and other community members are planning a celebration of life to honor the Cargill employee who died after testing positive for COVID-19.

“She symbolizes the humanity behind these workers,” Antonio said.

“This woman, from Vietnam, it’s about time we put a face to her and celebrate her life.”

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Female employee at Cargill plant died within days of feeling ill' Coronavirus: Female employee at Cargill plant died within days of feeling ill
Coronavirus: Female employee at Cargill plant died within days of feeling ill