An incident caught on camera in Richmond, B.C., has generated more than 300,000 views on TikTok.
Alberta resident Donna Damaso said she was heading to the Vancouver airport on Aug. 11 when she came across two women trying to purchase tickets for the SkyTrain.
She said they were speaking to each other in Chinese and a man was standing nearby, watching them.
He then started asking them where they were from.
“At first I was agitated, really. I saw a lot of people walking by and not saying anything and that’s when I decided to confront him,” Damaso told Global News.
In the video, the man can be heard saying, “You’re in Canada now.” Damaso can then be heard calling him a “racist.”
The man identifies himself as a lawyer and says to Damaso, “Why do we have to bend over backwards? If you move to Japan you learn Japanese because you live in Japan.”
Damaso said the women were just minding their own business and the man did not need to insert himself into the situation.
“I called him a racist. Maybe he doesn’t like Asians?” she said, adding she was surprised to see an incident like this in Canada.
Damaso said the two women thanked her for stepping in and saying something, but told her to be careful next time.
Doris Wai Ki Mah, a co-founder of the Stand With Asians Coalition, said when she first saw the video, she was very angry.
“I kept thinking that could be my mother,” she said. “She takes public transit by herself all the time.”
Mah said Damaso was brave in stepping up and saying something to the man seen in the video.
“All Canadians have to realize that we all have to reflect on our own biases,” she said.
“When this white man was shouting at these women, I think the first question he asked was, ‘Where are you from?’ Which could be a friendly question but in this incident is absolutely unacceptable and inappropriate in my view. The reason why he asked where are you from is because, you can see from the video, what he was saying is ‘Why are you not speaking English because we are in Canada’.”
Mah added that Canada is supposed to be a multicultural and inclusive society and we need to accept and celebrate different ethnicities.
A local MP called the incident an indication of the rise of hate crimes in Canada.
Peter Julian, MP for New Westminster-Burnaby, said in a statement that according to “the latest Statistics Canada report, the number of police-reported hate crimes increased by 72 per cent over the last two years since 2019.
“The most concerning was that an increase of 67 per cent of hate crimes was motivated by religion, an increase of 64 per cent of cases motivated by sexual orientation and an increase of six per cent of cases targeting race or ethnicity,” the statement reads.
Julian said incidents such as this one are what prompted him to support measures such as a motion to counteract all forms of hate and all forms of discrimination, hate crimes and incidents of hate and Bill C-229 to amend the Criminal Code to ban symbols of hate.