Anti-Asian hate crimes spike in Canada

Following a mass shooting in Atlanta that targeted Asian businesses, Canada reckons with its own anti-Asian racism problem

Spikes in anti-Asian hate crimes have been reported all around the world, including here in Canada. Anti-Asian racism has been present throughout the nation’s history, and this year, the Asian community reports racial violence is becoming increasingly aggressive, especially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent study outlined that over 1,150 incidents of anti-Asian racism were reported in Canada between March 2020 and February 2021. According to a report published by The Chinese Canadian National Council’s Toronto chapter (CCNCTO) and Fight COVID Racism, Vancouver has experienced up to a 700 per cent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. 

In Montreal, there were 30 hate crimes reported between March and December of 2020, up from just six reported in 2019. Last May, a man of Korean descent was stabbed in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.

In September, two victims of Asian descent were killed in a double hit-and-run in Brossard. A 30-year-old man has since been arrested and charged with second degree murder.

Police insisted the hit-and-runs were not hate crimes, but failed to explain why. Both victims were of East Asian descent; Huiping Ding, 45, was Chinese, and Gérard Chong Soon Yuen, 50, was Korean.

This year on March 11, a man of Korean descent was walking in the Plateau when he was attacked with pepper spray in broad daylight. Initially, police were not investigating the incident as a hate crime, although the victim considered the incident to be one. However, following media coverage, the hate crimes squad was brought in to investigate. The victim, a man identified as Nicolas, detailed that while he was carrying “the latest iPhone, the latest Apple Watch, the latest iPad and MacBook Pro,” but his attackers made no effort to rob him.

Days later on March 16, breaking news of a mass shooting in Georgia reported eight dead, six of whom were Asian women. A 21-year-old white gunman targeted three separate Asian-owned spas in Acworth and Atlanta. The shootings sparked outrage among Asian communities across the U.S., with protests held in Atlanta and New York the same weekend.

In the wake of that tragedy, Montreal community leaders organized a march against anti-Asian racism on March 21. Organizers led thousands of supporters on a three kilometre march from Cabot Square to Chinatown, stopping at Quebec Premier François Legault’s office on Sherbrooke Street. Activists demanded acknowledgement of the sharp rise in anti-Asian sentiment within Quebec. Premier Legault continues to deny the existence of systemic racism in the province.

Speeches made by leaders of Montreal’s Asian community outlined Canada and Quebec’s own colonial and historically racist treatment of Asians. Cathy Wong, councillor of the Peter-McGill district, spoke passionately of the racist history that the Asian community has endured.

“We march in remembrance of our history, as racism against Asians did not begin yesterday. It was not born from the pandemic. We march in remembrance of our history because our history is coloured by racist laws that excluded the Chinese — targeting our great grandparents, despite building railroads in exchange for dreams of a new life,” Wong said to the crowd in French.

Among the speakers was part-time Concordia professor Jinyoung Kim, who identifies as Korean-Canadian. Four of the six Asian women who were killed in Atlanta were of Korean descent.

“[It became] an immediate reality for me and for my friends, my parents, and everyone I know with Asian bodies in North America,” she said, before describing the threat of violence against Asians in the last year. “It’s been a year of fighting for justice, and it feels like nothing has gotten better.”

“I feel deeply the traumas that my BIPOC students go through,” Kim said, speaking of her Studio Arts students at Concordia. “I have heard stories from my students.”

The Atlanta shootings have sparked conversations about the fetishization of Asian women, with many activists citing the gendered violence and racism that Asian women face. In a press conference held shortly after the shootings, law enforcement officials said that the gunman confessed to the shootings, but denied racial motivations behind the attacks. Instead, the shooter saw Asian women as “temptations that he had to eliminate,” that he had a “sex addiction,” and that it was a “bad day.”

Following the Atlanta shootings, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement saying, “While we have made progress toward a more just and equal society, more still needs to be done, and the Government of Canada remains committed to this work.”

On March 22, New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh introduced the Anti-Asian Hate motion, which passed in the House of Commons. The motion called for the federal government to “properly fund” hate crime units across Canada, and make efforts to “identify best practices in countering this trend.”

But Singh echoed the sentiments of many, tweeting in response, “Justin Trudeau needs to do more than offer words, he needs to act,” in order to combat anti-Asian violence.  


Photographs by Christine Beaudoin


The U.S. government shutdown

Why we should care about the government shutdown in the U.S.

The U.S. government has shut down yet again, only this time it’s being regarded as the longest shutdown in U.S. history. It all started on Dec. 22, right before the holidays and unfortunately for the time being, there’s no end in sight. According to CBS News, this is the third government shutdown in 2018 alone. In order to gain a better understanding of the magnitude of the problem, there have only been three government shutdowns in the past 25 years up until 2018.

Government officials failed to come to an agreement concerning President Donald Trump’s decision to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump’s refusal to approve a federal budget unless it includes funding for a border wall is beyond absurd. Democrats have rejected Trump’s request to do so for $5.7 billion. This has affected nine federal departments, leaving about 800,000 federal workers without pay.

The shutdown has had an impact on all sorts of industries. Employees such as prison guards, FBI agents and airport staff have been working without pay. Flying is now deemed less safe than before due to a shortage of TSA workers. Airline companies such as Delta airlines will lose revenue of $25 million this month given that fewer government contractors are flying.

On Tuesday, Jan. 15, a federal judge in Washington denied the request to pay workers who are continuing their jobs during the shutdown, including the nation’s air traffic controllers. According to NBC News, the union that represents thousands of air traffic controllers filed a lawsuit on Friday. They’re searching for a temporary restraining order against the federal government for violating the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. constitution, given that they’re being denied “hard-earned compensation without the requisite due process.”

On Thursday, federal workers all over the country missed their first paychecks since the beginning of the shutdown. According to NBC News, air traffic controllers and TSA workers expressed their concerns surrounding passengers’s safety during the shutdown. The air traffic control system in this country is an economic engine. At this moment, we’re seeing this incredible strain on the system, which is unacceptable given that it’s negatively impacting thousands of people.

Meanwhile on Craigslist, listings from federal workers trying to sell their possessions have been flooding the site. These items varied from beds to old toys, which have been listed as “government shutdown specials.” According to the BBC, of the 800,000 federal employees going unpaid, approximately 350,000 are furloughed, which is a temporary lay-off, while the rest remain at work. This past weekend, one of the country’s major airports, Miami International, closed an entire terminal because too many employees have been calling in sick.

Both the House and Senate have passed a bill on Friday to guarantee that all government workers will be receiving retroactive pay once the shutdown is over. Trump is still expected to sign the legislation but for the moment he’s still demanding that Democrats approve funding for a border wall. People’s lifestyles have been placed on hold as a result of this shutdown. Some fear for the worst, wondering if they’ll have enough money to pay next month’s rent, or for their medication.

Even though the shutdown isn’t directly affecting Canadians, it is highly relevant. Thousands of American citizens are left wondering how they’re going to pay their rent and provide for their families as the shutdown perseveres. Trump has been directing all his attention towards building this border wall when in reality this shutdown isn’t a fight about security. It’s affecting thousands of communities and families across the nation and makes us question whether Republicans in the White House are living in the same reality as the rest of the country.

All we can do now is hope for this shutdown to end before more damage is done. Even though they’ll get their pay back once the government reopens, these federal employees aren’t receiving money as their costs of living keep piling up.

Graphic by Ana Bilokin


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