Wednesday April 20 is United Nations Chinese Language Day. This annual observance gives us an opportunity to express our support for the Chinese community in the face of increased anti-Asian racism.
The purpose of the Chinese Language Day is to recognize the cultural diversity and multilingualism of one of the six official languages of the UN.
The significance behind April 20th stems from Guyu which is the sixth of the 24 solar terms in the traditional East Asian calendars. This date also serves to pay tribute to Cangjie, who is viewed as the official historian of the Yellow Emperor and inventor of the Chinese characters. Chinese people celebrate the day Guyu in honour of Cangjie.
Chinese is one of the oldest and most widely spoken languages in the world. The many spoken varieties and dialects of Chinese is a true reflection of diversity. Undoubtedly, the celebration of language is integral to understanding the history and culture of people, which in turn helps us all support objectives of inclusion.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have witnessed an increase in anti-Asian racism. Unfortunately, this alarming rise of hatred has resulted in heinous verbal and physical acts of aggression. There has also been the dissemination of misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic that places blame on the Asian community and, in particular, people of Chinese heritage.
This is not acceptable and we must stand together to condemn hate in the strongest terms.
In spite of this, we continue to see the representation of people of Chinese heritage in notable roles within the arts, public health, and in television.
The growth of the Chinese diaspora in Ontario and across Canada is a sign that we have made strides from a time where a punitive head tax restricted Chinese immigration (from 1885 to 1923) and an exclusion of Chinese people from immigrating to Canada (from 1923 to 1947).
Chinese Language Day is a time to reinforce the strength of the Chinese community, show our support, and commit to fighting against all forms of anti-Asian racism so that we never revisit Canada’s shameful and disgraceful past.
JP Hornick, OPSEU/SEFPO President
Laurie Nancekivell, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer