Anti-racism groups call on Ottawa to help fight racism towards Asians amid COVID-19
MONTREAL -- A coalition of anti-racism groups is calling on the federal government to take concrete measures to fight rising anti-Asian racism they say is linked to COVID-19.
Several cases of discrimination and hate crimes -- including incidents of vandalism, xenophobia and physical intimidation -- have been reported in Montreal since March directed at people who are or who look Chinese, including Vietnamese and Korean Montrealers.
The Montreal-based Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), along with a dozen community organizations, is calling on the federal government "to quickly and adequately support local initiatives against anti-Asian racism and xenophobia, which, if left unchecked, could lead to more violence, and continue spreading against other racialized and Indigenous groups."
Instances of discrimination amid the pandemic date back to the beginning of March, when a hooded figure took a sledgehammer to the Buddhist lion statues at the Quan Am temple on de Courtrai Avenue in Cote-des-Neiges. Around the same time, the lion statues at the gates of China Town were also defaced.
"It's pretty hard to pinpoint the motive behind the perpetrator, but to me, the most logical explanation would be discrimination against Asians, the Asian community, because of the coronavirus events that are happening all over the world," Louis Le, a volunteer at Quan Am temple, told CTV News back in March.
At the time, Montreal police said in a statement that the incidents were being treated as hate crimes since the attacks were directed at religious symbols.
CRARR said it is particularly concerned because federal anti-racist resources in the amount of $45 million under the Anti-Racism Strategy 2019-22, and other programs, have been mostly allocated to groups in cities outside Quebec. CRARR says this is “neglecting many groups in Montreal that have no resources to mobilize against anti-Asian racism.”
In a news release sent Wednesday, CRARR executive director Fo Niemi said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal government “have shown tremendous leadership in responding to the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19 and to the needs of Canadians everywhere," adding that, "now is the time for the federal government to show the same kind of leadership and move as fast and boldly as possible against the tide of racism against Asian Canadians and other vulnerable groups."