The Canadian Race Relations Foundation Celebrates Asian Heritage Month
(May 1, 2020)
“Diversity represents one of Canada’s greatest strengths, and we strive to ensure that all Canadians have the opportunity to reach their full potential and participate in Canada’s civic life. Over the last two centuries, immigrants have journeyed to Canada from East Asia, Southern Asia, Western and Southeast Asia, bringing our society a rich cultural heritage representing many languages, ethnicities and religious traditions. The people of this diverse, vibrant and growing community have contributed to every aspect of life in Canada — from the arts and science to sport, business, and government.” – Official Declaration of Asian Heritage Month, May 2002. (https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/campaigns/asian-heritage-month/official-declaration.html)
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation proudly celebrates the culture and accomplishments of Canadians of Asian heritage.
“The story of the Asian community in Canada is one of courage in the face of adversity and accomplishment across many fields of endeavor,’ said Teresa Woo-Paw, Chairperson of the Board, CRRF. “Members of this community have made their mark in all walks of life. They have entertained us as actors and we have thrilled to their athletic achievements. They hold places of prominence in the justice system, law enforcement, science and medicine, and politics. As composers they have touched our hearts and, as soldiers, they have defended our freedoms. In them, Canada found worthy citizens. In Canada, they found a land that was worthy of being their home.”
“The original declaration for Asian Heritage Month makes explicit reference to diversity as being one of our country’s greatest strengths. That is truer in 2020 than at any other time in our history,” said Dr. Lilian Ma, CRRF Executive Director. “Canada has been enriched by the Asian community’s accomplishment in fields across the spectrum of endeavor. However, with the COVID 19 pandemic, a wave in the rise of anti-Asian sentiments and actions, which mimics what had happened in Canadian history, is deeply concerning, despite of all kinds of contribution Asian Canadians made to society, e.g. as elected and appointed officials they have served with distinction and brought honour to public service. As soldiers and members of law enforcement services they have protected our streets and our shores with honour and courage.”
Asian Heritage Month has been celebrated across Canada since the 1990s. Asian Canadians continue to play a vital role in all sectors of our society. With the COVID 19 pandemic, there have been many reports that anti-Asian racism and related hate crimes has been on the rise. Some examples include the following: Derek Sloan, an MP from eastern Ontario suggesting Canada's chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, is working for China and should be fired for giving “bad” advice to the government on the COVID-19 crisis; in east Vancouver, an elderly Asian man with dementia was assaulted in a racially motivated attack while he was shopping inside a convenience store; and Dr. Joan Cheng, an emergency room physician from Markham, Ontario, highlighted the fact that her patients are being blamed for the pandemic and are being assaulted because of their ethnicity.
It is crucial for Canadians of all origins, racialized and non racialized, to stand together again racism, and in this difficult times of the pandemic, to unite in the fight against racism, to show support for Asian Heritage month by learning more about this part of our Canadian heritage, through appropriate channels such as virtual events and sources. We urge everyone to learn from one another and celebrate Asian Heritage month by commemorating achievements and contributions of Asian Canadians throughout history. For example, you can download the students’ guide and teachers’ guide called “Doing the Right Thing” from our website (https://www.crrf-fcrr.ca/en/news-a-events/articles/item/26830-doing-the-right-thing).
Whether it be in the arts, sciences, sports, business or government, Asian Canadians continue to help build the inclusive, compassionate and prosperous country we know today.