The horrendous fatal mass shooting in Atlanta by a white man who primarily targeted women of Asian descent is the latest in a series of increasingly frequent and shocking incidents of racially motivated violence in North America since the beginning of the pandemic.
On a per capita basis, Canada has a higher reported number of racist, anti-Asian incidents than in the United States, and almost 30 per cent of these involve assaults, such as physical violence or spitting. Over the last year, members of Asian communities in Canada have reported various kinds of harassment as they go about their lives—from experiencing racial tirades to physical assaults to front-line health care workers experiencing racism even as they try to save lives.
In Vancouver, incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes increased by over 700 per cent in 2020, while in Ottawa and Montreal, anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 600 and 400 per cent, respectively. Asian women—uniquely hypersexualized, fetishized and marginalized—also continue to bear the brunt of this racism and misogyny, which makes them more vulnerable to violence.
PSAC acknowledges the detrimental impact of the recent shootings on people of Asian descent and calls on the federal government to urgently increase support, including through new public funding, for initiatives aimed at combatting anti-Asian racism.
“Anti-Asian racism has a long and ugly history in Canada, and the pandemic has unleashed a new and vicious wave of hatred,” said Chris Aylward, PSAC’s national president. “We stand in solidarity with the Asian community through these difficult times and reaffirm our union’s commitment to fighting racism in all its forms."
Anti-Asian racism cannot be discussed without also examining anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism. The fight against racism is about dismantling white supremist structures that subjugate all Black, Indigenous, Asian and other racialized people.
We all have a role in the fight against racism. We must name it, speak up, and take action when we witness it. If you need support addressing racism in your workplace, talk to your union representative. No longer can we be silent because silence is complacency.
Additional resources on anti-Asian racism in Canada: