TORONTO, May 1, 2007 - The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) joins Canadians across the country in celebrating the vast and important contributions Canadians of Asian descent have made to Canada's economic and cultural growth at home, and its influence in the rest of the world.
Last year's apology and redress to the Chinese Head Tax payers by the Government of Canada is certainly an important milestone and a cause for celebration. It is not a magical cure, but it represents, as did the Japanese Redress Agreement of 1988, an opportunity for the healing to begin. It represents an opportunity for the Chinese community, particularly those early pioneers who were directly affected, to feel and believe that the wrong which had been done to them has finally been recognized and validated. It was also an opportunity to highlight the tremendous contributions they had made, and continue to make, to Canada's development.
The apology reminded Canadians of the racist conditions under which persons of Chinese origin lived and worked.
It also served to remind Canadians of the racism of the past; one that still affects many Canadians. The Government of Canada has acknowledged the Komagata Maru incident, the result of legislation that restricted the entry of South Asians, and is reportedly consulting the South Asian community on an appropriate form of recognition.
These were all acts of racism which had the sanction of law or policy. The reality of these occurrences is rarely reflected in our history books or in the education curricula. These are historical wrongs which need to be acknowledged. We need to learn lessons from the past, and confront the racism of today.
Regrettably, many groups within the greater Asian communities today continue to face discrimination and racism. From the recognition of foreign-trained professional credentials to the stereotyping of Filipino-Canadians and the Tamil community, the various Asian communities continue to face barriers.
A poll released earlier this year by Leger Marketing indicates that almost half of all Canadians (47%) admit to being racist. The same poll also identifies 13% of Canadians have a bad opinion of Asians.
The CRRF believes that marking and celebrating the Asian Heritage Month is not enough. Racialized persons are mostly located in the bottom rungs of the employment ladder. It is time for each employer, including governments at all levels, to seriously analyze their hiring and retention practices and aggressively work to eliminate all barriers which are deeply rooted in their employment systems.