On Friday, a 15-year-old boy was attacked in a park in Saskatoon while riding his bike.
Nelson Chen, the boy’s father, told Global News the man pushed the boy to the ground, punched him in the head and accused him of bringing the novel coronavirus to Saskatchewan.
“He yelled racial slurs at my son and said things like ‘you’re spreading the virus,” he said.
It’s the latest in a string of incidents across the country in which Asian-Canadians have been blamed for the COVID-19 pandemic and targeted.
Manuela Valle-Castro, the coordinator of the Saskatoon Anti-Racism Network, said the attacks are caused by a mix of anti-Asian beliefs, anti-lockdown sentiment and white nationalism, which are fomenting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Anytime we have a sort of social crisis, be it a recession or a pandemic like we’re experiencing now, the tendency… is to look for a scapegoat,” she told Global News.
“People, because they feel threatened in their livelihood and their identities… and how they know life to be normally, react very violently and with a sense of entitlement.”
She said the entitlement is buoyed by a history of racial policies and narratives, which were especially prominent in the United States ahead of the election of Donald Trump as president in 2016.
“People who were already feeling disenfranchised and threatened in their livelihoods… have been fed this discourse, that the easy solution is to get rid of all immigrants and to attack people of colour.”
“There’s a lot of negative information on the internet or in the news even, especially in the states,” Chen said.
“As Chinese-Canadians, we have been very concerned about this, but we never thought it would happen in Saskatoon.
Chen told Global News he came to Canada in 1991, with $500 in his pocket, to study at the University of Saskatchewan.
He said he stayed because he loved the country and city so much.
After posting the video on Facebook, which he said he did to raise awareness, he received “hundreds, if not thousands” of messages and offers to help.
Offers include people wanting to buy them dinner and provide mixed martial arts lessons.
“There’s really nothing that we need other than their kindness,” he said.
“If they really wanted to contribute to this I would urge them to donate to the food bank.”
In a Facebook post on Saturday, the Saskatoon Police Service said it was aware of the incident. On Monday, a spokesperson confirmed the incident is still under investigation.