It’s said to be the most Asian city outside Asia. Where a quarter of residents speak a Chinese language and the char siu rivals what’s served in Hong Kong barbecue shops. Where a Sikh gurdwara, a Tibetan monastery and a Chinese evangelical church coexist in harmony along a three-kilometre stretch of road dubbed the Highway to Heaven. The kind of place that should be immune to a rise in pandemic-fuelled racism.
Vancouver has been anything but.
Last year, more anti-Asian hate crimes were reported to police in Vancouver than in the top 10 most populous U.S. cities combined. With almost one out of every two residents of Asian descent in British Columbia experiencing a hate incident in the past year, the region is confronting an undercurrent of racism that runs as long and deep as the historical links stretching across the Pacific.
COVID-19 was the trigger. But the resentment had been building for decades. Few areas have been so visibly transformed by Asian immigration — and money — as the Lower Mainland. Vancouver itself has become a glittering cosmopolis of luxury condos and designer boutiques. The disproportionate rash of incidents has raised an unsettling question: Maybe Vancouver isn’t the bastion of progressive multiculturalism it thinks it is.