More than 1,100 anti-Asian attacks reported in Canada one year into COVID-19 pandemic; 10% involved coughing or spitting
People hold signs as they attend a rally to support Stop Asian Hate at the Logan Square Monument in Chicago, Saturday, March 20, 2021. A diverse crowd gathered to demand justice for the victims of Atlanta, Georgia spa shooting for an end to racism, xenophobia and misogyny. (AP / Nam Y. Huh)
Published Tuesday, March 23, 2021 1:31PM EDT
More than 1,100 attacks against Asian Canadians have been reported one year into the global COVID-19 pandemic, and 11 per cent of those incidents contained violent assault or unwanted physical contact, according to a new report.
The Chinese Canadian National Council - Toronto Chapter (CCNC) released a report on Tuesday detailing discriminatory attacks and incidents faced by Asian Canadians one year into the deadly pandemic.
The CCNC, along with partner organizations, gathered data from Asian Canadians who reported incidents online from Mar. 10, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021.
During this time period, 1,150 cases of racist attacks against Asian Canadians were reported, with 507 incidents logged between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28 alone.
Many Asian individuals around the world have encountered racist remarks and attacks after the novel coronavirus was first discovered in Wuhan, China in Dec. 2019. The global COVID-19 pandemic was then declared by the World Health Organization in Mar. 2020.
“Asian Canadian communities not only face the challenges of COVID-19 (the social, economic and health implications of which has disproportionately impacted racialized communities) but also the added racism that sees our communities as somehow responsible for COVID-19 and its horrific damages,” the report states.
Eleven per cent of all reported incidents contained a violent physical assault and/or unwanted physical contact, while 10 per cent of all attacks included a person being coughed at and/or spat on, according to the CCNC.
Children and youth under 18 years old and older adults 55 years old and up were more likely to be physically assaulted (42 and 57 per cent, respectively) and more likely to be coughed on and spat on (233 and 250 per cent, respectively) compared to those between the ages of 19 and 35.
Public spaces are the most common areas for racist attacks against Asian Canadians, followed by spaces in the food sector, including grocery stores and restaurants, which account for almost one-fifth of all racist attacks.
Forty per cent of all incidents occurred in Ontario, while 44 per cent happened in British Columbia.
The CCNC says those who identify as women represent nearly 60 per cent of all reported cases, while those who identify as men were twice as likely to report a physical assault.
In addition, 84 per cent of all incidents were against East Asians and six per cent were against Southeast Asians.
The CCNC says individuals who reported an incident in Chinese were 34 per cent more likely to report suffering from emotional distress and 100 per cent more likely to experience physical assault compared to those who reported an incident in English.
“We must remember that behind every number is a human being whose life, and the lives of
those around them, have been changed forever by the gross violation of their rights. Collectively and individually, these racist incidents have resulted in deep and long-lasting impacts on the Asian Canadian community as a whole,” Avvy Go, clinic director of the Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic said in a statement.
The CCNC listed four key steps that they recommend to address discrimination against Asian Canadians, including:
- Recognition from all levels of government with community-based and culturally specific supports and the implementation of policies to prevent misinformation about Asian Canadians.
- A targeted approach to ensure the most vulnerable are protected, including seniors, those with limited English fluency and women.
- Robust support and a comprehensive recovery support strategy for workers, operators and customers in the Asian food sector.
- Protection for Asian frontline and essential workers, including paid sick days and income support during and after the pandemic.
The organization says these recommendations need to be implemented immediately to support Asian communities against an increase in anti-Asian racism.
"Asian Canadian communities cannot afford to wait. We need further government support for
people who experienced hate incidents. Survivors need to be provided with culturally appropriate support and resources to recover from these racist attacks and encounters,” Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice President Amy Go said.
The CCNC’s report comes a week after a deadly shooting killed eight women, including six Asian women, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Although anti-Asian racism is an issue in the U.S., the CCNC says it continues to be a serious issue in Canada as per capita reports of incidents continue to outpace the U.S., which reported at least 3,795 cases throughout the first year of the pandemic.