MONTREAL -- Montreal police (SPVM) say hate crimes and incidents against the Asian community saw a spike last year, and that many of those incidents are related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

SPVM statistics show 30 racist acts between March and December 2020, which is five times more than in 2019.

"A lot of us grew up all our life in Quebec or were born here, or are immigrants of second of third-generation or adopted," said anti-racism advocate Anne-Claudie Beaulieu. "It’s a big shock."

Of the reported cases, 10 are believed to be linked to COVID-19, and those working to fight racism believe those numbers are only a fraction of the real picture.

"It’s known in dealing with hate crimes in Canada that only up to a maximum of 10 per cent of these cases are reported by the victims to the police, so you can do the math," said Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations director Fo Niemi.

City of Montreal point person on racism and diversity Cathy Wong calls the trend worrisome.

She hopes that a recently launched project will attract people to Chinatown and will lead to a greater understanding of the communities in Montreal.