Thursday, May 26

Attacks Make Vancouver “North America’s Capital of Anti-Asian Hate Crimes” | Canada

Steven Ngo had stopped at a stoplight in a residential neighborhood in eastern Vancouver when passengers in another car threw trash at him, yelling racial slurs as they sped.

The lawyer, a lifelong resident of the city, was stunned, but not surprised.

“Racism has never been so overt and apparent,” Ngo said. “I’ve never seen him so cheeky.”

Over the past year, Vancouver, a cosmopolitan metropolis nestled between mountains and ocean, has experienced a 717% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. The grim figures, which experts believe do not report the problem, reflect a legacy of discrimination in a city and country that are seen as welcoming newcomers.

Since the coronavirus first arrived in Canada last year, Asian residents across the country have reported a dramatic increase in hate incidents, ranging from racist abuse to gun attacks. A young man from Montreal i was blinded in March by a group attacking him with military grade pepper spray. In Toronto, police say the number of reported hate crimes has doubled in the last year.

But with 98 cases reported in the last year, more than all US cities combined, Vancouver was recently dubbed the “North America’s capital of anti-Asian hate crimes”.

The city’s proximity to major Pacific cities has made it a popular landing point for recent immigrants for generations. But upon arrival, many have faced discrimination.

“The government promotes Canada as a multicultural and diverse country, an idea that has been ingrained in our psychology since we were in school,” Ngo said. “But when you start seeing friends and family who are being hurt, you start wondering how accurate that narrative is.”

People hold signs at a Stop Asian Hate rally in Vancouver.
People hold signs at a Stop Asian Hate rally in Vancouver. Photograph: Xinhua / Alamy

His cousin was recently spat on while running in a park. Her mother, who works in a dim sum restaurant, says all her customers are afraid to go out for a walk.

“They carry pepper spray in their bag, or bear spray,” Ngo said. “What kind of country are we where people need to bring bear spray when they go for a walk?”

The attacks have made headlines in recent months, but residents say they reflect an outpouring of long-standing discrimination.

After using Chinese workers to finish a transnational railroad, Canada stopped immigration from China. During World War II, Canadian citizens of Japanese descent were detained in internment camps.

Even seemingly benign policies, such as British Columbia’s “foreign buyer tax,” aimed at cooling real estate prices, were widely seen as geared toward Asian buyers, despite little evidence implicating them in the sale. rising house prices.

“Living in anticipation of when something could happen to you, or worse yet, when something could happen to your parents, is very stressful,” says Ellen, who asked to use only her first name. “I feel like I’m just waiting for the phone call. It’s not about if, it’s about when. You are always preparing for that impact. “

Ellen, co-founder of project 1907, a reference to the city’s infamous anti-Asian riots that led to widespread property damage, has worked with the Vancouver Asian Film Festival to launch Delete8hate, an online campaign and a reporting platform on racist experiences. Since April 2020, the project has mapped a portion of the 1,500 submissions, many of which the police would not consider a hate crime.

Linda Li, president of the Tri-City Chinese Community Society, wears a mask that says
Linda Li, president of the Tri-City Chinese Community Society, wears a mask that says “Stop Asian Hate” in Richmond. Photograph: Canadian Press / REX / Shutterstock

In addition to the frustration that there is little the police can do when a person is spat on or coughed up, Ngo says the reporting process also left him confused.

After waiting on the phone for nearly half an hour, he went to the Vancouver Police website, only to find that he could only file a hate crime report in Simplified Chinese.

“There is a perception that only the Chinese community is affected by anti-Asian racism. I am part Cantonese and part Vietnamese. It means that only part of me can report it, the other part cannot, ”he said. “At the same time, why was it not in English? It just didn’t make sense. “

Vancouver police said the Chinese forms were developed in response to the “dramatic increase” in hate crimes and incidents against Vancouver’s East Asian community specifically.

“However, we heard from the public that they would like the forms in other Asian languages ​​as well,” police said.

Residents can now report hate crimes in Traditional and Simplified Chinese, English, Japanese, Korean, Punjabi, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.

“The social histories of these so-called ‘Asian-Canadians’ groups are quite broad,” said Andy Yan, director of the city’s program at Simon Fraser University. He pointed to recent media coverage of hate crimes that appear to target the Chinese-Canadian community in Vancouver, despite the fact that a wide range of communities have been affected by the increase in attacks.

Trixie Ling, founder of Flavors of Hope, a nonprofit social enterprise that supports newly arrived refugee women, called for a broader conversation about systemic racism in the city.

“The conversation must go beyond the Asian community [that’s] now in public view, ”said Ling, who was recently assaulted by a man who spat at her and yelled racial and sexual insults at her.

“But I want to see more than just talk. Words without action are meaningless. [The conversations] they must be translated into action and accountability, ”he said. “It’s not just about interpersonal racism, it’s the existing systems and structures that perpetuate it.”

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