Anti-Asian racism in Edmonton was in the spotlight at this year’s virtual event for Asian Heritage Month.
Advocates said they hope to stem the tide on a rise in hate brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Catherine Wong is a lion dance performer in Edmonton and said that on more than one occasion, she and others have been targets of anti-Asian sentiment.
“Last time we were filming in February, somebody came through and welcomed us to Canada five times in a row without a response and was aggressively in our faces about it as well,” Wong said.
Wong said this is just one of many incidents she has faced during the pandemic.
“It is a micro-aggression but it does make you feel unsafe and does confront you with the fact that you’re not fully integrated, you’re not fully viewed as Canadian even though your families could have been here for several generations,” Wong said.
For more than 20 years, Asian Heritage Month has been about celebrating culture in Edmonton.
This year, the theme anti-Asian conversation was chosen in hopes of making some change.
“What we’re seeing, because of the pandemic, is a rise in anti-Asian sentiment, and I think it’s impacted Asian communities everywhere, including Edmonton,” said Asian Heritage Month organizer Nathan Ip.
The virtual event on Saturday featured a live panel and conversations around the issue.
Roughly three weeks ago, the Edmonton Chinese Benevolent Association building was vandalized, with two of its glass doors smashed.
The association’s chair questions whether this was hate-motivated.
“I think people still believe that the virus spread to North America and to Canada mainly because of the Asian connection, specifically the Chinese and Wuhan connections, ” Edmonton Chinese Benevolent Association Chair Michael Lee said.
Lee said he would like people to better inform themselves and debate issues rationally instead of acting out.
“I think through education, we can change attitudes, and changing attitudes is one step, a very important step, towards a more equitable society,” Ip said.