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Hidden Hate: Exposing the roots of anti-Asian racism in Canada

Posted on: May 4, 2021

Anti-Asian racism has surged across North America since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but Metro Vancouver has been particularly hard hit.

Statistics from the Vancouver Police Department show a 717-per-cent rise in hate crimes against East Asians from 2019 to 2020.

A federally-funded study conducted by several groups under the umbrella of the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice found that B.C. has the most reported incidents per capita of any sub-national region in North America.

Const. Byron Yee of the Vancouver Police Department has worked in the city’s Chinatown neighbourhood for several years and has seen the hatred firsthand. He said the uptick started last year at the beginning of the pandemic and appears to be heating up again.

“In the last couple of months, it seems like things have started to increase again,” Yee said.

“I’ve had more people approach me talking about fears of the neighbourhood, fears of walking through here, fears of having their elderly family members walk through here. There’s a lot more fear now.”

He said that even he has concerns about his own family.

“I didn’t worry about my dad coming out here but ever since COVID hit I do worry about him coming out here a lot more,” Yee said.

Metro Vancouver is often thought of as Canada’s “most Asian city,” but the sharp rise in attacks has revealed a racist undercurrent that some say has always existed. Andy Yan, director of Simon Fraser University’s City Program, said one of the factors behind deeply-rooted anti-Asian attitudes is the question of Canadian identity.

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