Anti-Asian racism in Canada more ‘frequent’ as report tallies hundreds of attacks during pandemic

Click to play video: 'New study shows extent of anti-Asian racism in Canada'
New study shows extent of anti-Asian racism in Canada
WATCH: The Chinese Canadian National Council has tallied 643 complaints on its online platforms of anti-Asian harassment during the pandemic, with incidents ranging from verbal harassment to spitting and coughing. Kamil Karamali reports – Mar 23, 2021

A report by the Chinese Canadian National Council’s Toronto chapter has found 1,150 incidents of anti-Asian racism were tallied during the COVID-19 pandemic — with many of the incidents involving people physically attacking, spitting or coughing on Asian Canadians.

The report is a compilation of surveys from two websites, Fight COVID Racism and Elimin8hate, between March 10, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021.

The results showed there were 507 incidents between the two-month span between Jan. 1, 2021 and the end of February alone. As well, 643 incidents were reported as taking place between March 10, 2020 and the end of December 2020.

The CCNC told Global News it had a chance to break down the details of the attacks from 2020, but has not had the resources to do the same for the 2021 survey results.

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In the 643 attacks reported last year since the COVID-19 pandemic began, 73.4 per cent involved ‘verbal harassment,’ while 10.7 per cent of the people who reported anti-Asian attacks claimed there was ‘physical force, aggression or unwanted physical contact.’

Ten per cent of the people surveyed said they were coughed at or spat on, while 3.9 per cent claimed they experienced anti-Asian ‘vandalism.’

The report also found that most of the incidents took place in British Columbia with 44.4 per cent.

Ontario came in second, with 39.6 per cent of anti-Asian attacks taking place in that province. Quebec was a distant third at 6.5 per cent.

Women also represented close to 60 per cent of all cases, while 42 per cent of children and youth under 18 years of age claimed to be physically assaulted and 57 per cent of seniors and people above 55 years of age also reported a physical assault.

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The report highlighted that 73.2 per cent of survey respondents felt mental distress and emotional harm as a result of the attack, while 8.4 per cent of incidents resulted in physical harm.

The report comes out a week after six Asian women were killed, along with two others, during a mass shooting at multiple salon parlours in Atlanta.

“It really highlights the seriousness of anti-Asian racism in Canada as well” said CCNC executive director Justin Kong.

“Our per capita instance count is even greater than the United States — so while we often sometimes think anti-Asian racism only happens in the United States, in this instance, you can see in terms of the per capita rates, it’s even more serious than the United States.”

Kong adds that anti-Asian racism has always been a problem in Canada, but what’s changed during the pandemic is how much more often he’s seeing it happen.

“What is different is the severity of the attacks and frequency of the attacks and how pervasive it is,” he said.

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Kong adds there was an agreement with the federal government to track anti-Asian racism incidents until the end of 2020, but hopes all levels of government provide the resources for the work to continue.

The CNCC is also calling on the federal government to put measures in place to protect Asian Canadians against racist attacks.

Some of those suggested measures include educating the public to prevent misinformation about Asian Canadians and to protect some of the communities’ most vulnerable population, like seniors and new immigrants.

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