North Americans were shocked and devastated by the news that six Asian women were among the victims of a series of fatal attacks in the Atlanta area in March. While the news was disheartening, anti-Asian attacks have been on the rise in North America since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic last March.

A report released by several advocacy groups including the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter revealed that 1,150 Asian Canadian hate crimes were reported in Canada between March and December 2020. Eleven percent of the reports involved violent physical encounters, including several incidents of spitting on children and elderly.

The report titled “A Year of Racist Attacks: Anti-Asian Racism Across Canada One Year into the Pandemic,” was released one week after the Atlanta shooting. 

“When I first heard about the increase in Asian American hate crime, I was saddened but not entirely surprised,” says Elizabeth M. Khean, an Asian-Canadian business and real estate lawyer at KZEL. Liz was raised in Vancouver and says she’s experienced acts of racism and racial insensitivity while growing up in the city.

“I am uncertain if the number of incidents has increased, if the reporting and coverage in the media has increased, or both, but regardless, it is a reminder that there is a lot more work to do,” says Liz.  

These attacks serve as a reminder to educate yourself and others, Liz says. “Over the course of this year, there has been a momentous shift to recognize implicit biases. I have started to contend with my own biases and educate myself on what it means to be anti-racist. It is always difficult to address problematic past behaviour, but I believe it is important in order to be accountable. I don’t know how you can be part of the solution if you are unwilling to first acknowledge how you have contributed to the problem.”

Learn more about anti-Asian hate in Canada by reading the “A Year of Racist Attacks: Anti-Asian Racism Across Canada One Year into the Pandemic” report.

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