A new campaign has just been launched in Chinatown with the goal of fighting anti-Asian racism and bringing customers back to the economically troubled area.
Chinatown merchants are hoping to entice Montrealers with their new “Fortunes for Solidarity” campaign. Five thousand fortune cookies will be distributed to businesses in the area. Each has a positive, anti-racism message inside. The fortune will act as a coupon for some of the top restaurants and businesses in the area, including Beijing and Dobe & Andy.
A group of merchants, community activists and politicians came together to announce the initiative at a press conference in Chinatown on Saturday.
“We are one group, one community, one voice to demonstrate our unity. We would like everybody’s support around Montreal. All Montrealers, come down to Chinatown!” said Jimmy Chan, president of the Chan Association of Montreal.
Even before COVID-19 hit Quebec, Chinese Montrealers said they had increasingly become victims of racist abuse and vandalism, often because of misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are seeing racism from the Western culture, telling people not to come to Chinatown because Chinese people are contagious. That comment we hear all the time,” said Kate Lau, the second-generation owner of Sasa Salon. “Business has been very tough for people in Chinatown.”
The area counts 160 businesses and 400 employees, many who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. The Chinese community hopes Montrealers will show their solidarity and return to Chinatown to grab some takeout or shop at local businesses.
City councillors Marvin Rotrand and Francesco Miele were on hand to show their support for the “Fortunes for Solidarity” campaign.
“It’s a gesture to sensitize and educate the public. It’s an effort to build solidarity among all of us,” said Rotrand.
“When one of us is attacked as a Canadian, we’re all attacked as Canadians.”
Global News has recently reported on a new wave of break-ins and acts of vandalism in Chinatown in the past few weeks. Police have pledged to increase patrols in the area, and locals are also planning a community watch program.