TORONTO, May 1, 2009 - The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) joins Canadians in celebrating the rich heritage and lasting contributions of Canadians of Asian heritage to the growth, development and well-being of our country.
Canadians of Asian descent have faced enormous challenges in their bid to make Canada their home. The discrimination that the Chinese faced with the imposition of the Head Tax and Exclusion Act designed to limit their immigration to Canada, the Japanese Canadians who were declared enemy aliens, their properties confiscated and families uprooted and sent to internment camps, and the "Continuous journey" regulation which essentially prohibited South Asians from entering Canada, are examples from our past. More recently, several disturbing incidents of physical and verbal attacks on Asian Canadians took place around lakes and bridges in Ontario. As noted in the follow up report of the Ontario Human Rights Commission on the inquiry into assaults on Asian Canadian anglers, Fishing without Fear, these incidents were motivated by racism and discrimination.
"The challenge confronting Canada today is to move forward while acknowledging the past and addressing today's racism and discrimination", notes Dr. Ayman Al-Yassini, CRRF Executive Director. "The apology and redress, on behalf of the people of Canada, which the Federal Government made for the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act, and the apology and redress to Japanese Canadians over 20 years ago are two critical milestones recognizing Canada's acknowledgement of its past. With an increasingly diverse society, there is a need for Canadian institutions to root out systemic and overt racism by implementing strong anti-racism initiatives".
The fabric of Canadian society continues to be strengthened by those whose ancestry is rooted in Central and West Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and East Asia. As Senator Vivienne Poy observed in 2001 when she introduced the motion to proclaim May as Asian Heritage Month, Asia has become the primary source of immigrants to Canada and, similarly, the Asia-Pacific countries have become significantly important to Canada's economy.
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation urges all Canadians to learn more about the rich history and heritage of the Asian communities in Canada not only during this month, but throughout the year. Through understanding each other better, we will move closer towards our goal of a racism-free country.