May is designated as Asian Heritage Month in Canada. It is a month long celebration that focuses not only on the long and rich history of Asian Canadians but also acknowledges their many contributions to Canadian society on social, economic, cultural, political and other levels.
As the largest continent on the planet, Asia is home to manycultures, languages and ethnicities. Unfortunately, they are often mistakenly grouped together as a few dominant cultures when talked about in the West.
The current COVID-19 pandemic is a good example of this. This world health crisis has inflamed all sorts of racism against Asian Canadians. There have been increased reports of hate crimes targeting Canadians of East Asian (i.e. Chinese, Taiwanese) and Southeast Asian (i.e. Filipino, Malaysian) descent in particular.
OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says that any form of hate speech or hate crime is unacceptable. “We are in the middle of a pandemic. The only way that we can get through this is to come together as a community. Our differences are what bring us together; it’s not what should divide us,” he said.
In addition to hunkering down along with the rest of the country, Asian Canadians also have to worry about their physical safety when going out for essentials like medicine and groceries. Sadly, Asian Canadians have been targets of physical and verbal forms of aggression as a result of this virus.
“It’s a terrifying reality for our local Asian communities – our members, neighbours and friends. It’s completely unacceptable and OPSEU will not tolerate it. We need to support and promote any and all local initiatives designed to speak out against anti-Asian racism” added OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer, Eddy Almeida. “Complacency is not an option.”
In December 2001, the Senate adopted a motion proposed by Senator Vivienne Poy to officially designate May as Asian Heritage Month in Canada. The official declaration was signed in May 2002 in recognition of Asian Canadians with heritage from East Asia, Southern Asia, Western and Southeast Asia.
Let us take the opportunity to celebrate the many different Asian cultures and the contributions Asian Canadians continue to make to our country.
For more information:
May 28, 2020 Anti-Asian Racism & The Pandemic: Solidarity In A Time Of Crisis
The Asian Canadian Labour Alliance, in collaboration with the Ontario Federation of Labour Workers’ of Colour Committee, OPSEU Coalition of Racialized Workers, OPSEU Provinical Human Rights Comittee, and the Toronto & York Region Labour Council’s Chinese Workers Network invite you to join a conversation and hear from workers experiencing racism during the Pandemic. Register now