A Metro Vancouver woman is speaking out after being subjected to a racist outburst while walking in Coquitlam’s Lafarge Lake.
Gina Chong and a friend were out for a walk Thursday evening when she says a woman approached, asking if the pair could take her photo for her.
“We were like, ‘Oh, sorry, we can’t due to COVID,’ and as we were walking she kind of said, quite loud, ‘This COVID is all because of you guys. Go back to China, it came from your country,'” Chong said.
“We just stopped in our tracks; we were just floored at what she said.”
The pair took out their phones and began recording, at which point she said the woman lost her temper — and repeated part of the comment.
“I was born here, I’m as Canadian as Canadian can be,” she said.
The incident comes amid a spike in anti-Asian racism that has coincided with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier Friday, Burnaby RCMP reported that anti-Asian hate crimes in the city were up 350 per cent — from six to 27 reports — between 2019 and 2020.
Vancouver police reported a 717-per cent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes over the same period.
And a recent survey from pollster Insights West found that four in 10 Asian British Columbians had experienced some form of racism over the last year.
Those statistics would not surprise Burnaby resident Katherina Huang, who told Global News she believes she was the target of a racially-motivated attempted assault at the Kensington Safeway on Thursday.
Huang said she was minding her business when another customer saw her and reacted immediately.
“It was almost like there was a click in him. His body language changed, his eyes changed, and it was all of a sudden he was a football player trying to tackle me, running me over. He charged towards me like a steam engine,” she said.
“I was trying to get away from him but he also shuffled side to side trying to tackle me.”
Huang said she was able to dodge the man, who refused to answer her when she asked him why he’d rushed her.
She said she reported the incident to the store manager and RCMP, while the man didn’t say anything to her, she’s certain he targeted her because of her race.
“You don’t have to say it, but I felt it,” she said.
“It was the body language, the eye contact, and the fact that the started charging towards me.”
The Burnaby RCMP has partnered with local business groups and is distributing multi-lingual posters to encourage victims of racist incidents to come forward.
It said 120 of its 301 officers in Burnaby speak at least one additional language, and if needed can be called to help translate for an investigation.
Chong, who was born and raised in the Tri-Cities area, called her experience “heartbreaking.”
“To be honest I didn’t think it would happen in this community and I never thought it would happen to myself, but it did,” she said.
She has two young daughters, and said she would want them to speak up, as she did, if confronted. And she said she went public with the video of the incident in the hopes of helping prevent similar situations from happening to others.
“I thought it was an important message to tell people that this is happening in our community, and something needs to be done about it,” she said.