People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver, Friday, February 5, 2021. COVID-19 has taken a toll on many Canadians, but for Chinese-Canadians the impacts have been magnified by racism aimed at individuals and businesses, community leaders say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver, Friday, February 5, 2021. COVID-19 has taken a toll on many Canadians, but for Chinese-Canadians the impacts have been magnified by racism aimed at individuals and businesses, community leaders say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Chinese-Canadians voice worries about racism, job losses one year in to pandemic

Grocery stores and restaurants owned by Chinese-Canadians have been particularly affected by misinformation

COVID-19 has taken a toll on many Canadians, but for Chinese-Canadians the impacts have been magnified by racism aimed at individuals and businesses, community leaders say.

Amy Go, the president of the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice, said the pandemic has resulted in an array of attacks directed at the community.

Vancouver police reported a surge in anti-Asian hate crime in 2020, with seniors being attacked and businesses vandalized. Data from Statistics Canada shows that Canadians with Asian backgrounds were more likely to report noticing increased racial or ethnic harassment during the pandemic.

“In the past, it usually hasn’t been as blatant as that but the pandemic really brought up this kind of personal and vile and very vicious attack,” Go said in an interview.

She said many Chinese businesses and restaurants faced a drop in sales before the start of the pandemic, with customers opting to stay home out of caution after hearing about the virus from relatives living abroad.

The initial rhetoric around the COVID-19 virus, such as some labelling it the “Wuhan virus” or the “China virus,” has also done “tremendous” damage to the Chinese-Canadian community, Go said.

“Just because we look Chinese or look Asian, we’re suddenly not Canadian,” Go said.

Members of the Chinese-Canadian community are portrayed as being foreigners, regardless of how long their families have lived in Canada, she said.

Grocery stores and restaurants owned by Chinese-Canadians have been particularly affected by misinformation about the virus, Go said.

She added that she’s spoken to healthy workers who were told to stay home by their employers over fears that they would spread the virus.

Doris Chow, a co-founder of Project 1907, an Asian advocacy group that has mapped out reports of hate crime across Metro Vancouver, said the harassment has become less visible.

“It seems to have subsided in the news,” she said in an interview. “But the violence and the racism is still continuing. It’s just becoming more invisible again.”

Chow is also the co-founder of the Youth Collaborative for Chinatown, a group that bills itself as young people fostering more support for Vancouver’s Chinatown.

She said Chinese-Canadian businesses in the Vancouver area started seeing a drop in business, such as diners cancelling reservations, around Lunar New Year celebrations last year, weeks before the wider economic shutdown in March.

With continued restrictions heading intothis year’sLunar New Year on Friday, Chow said it’s the equivalent of losing two Christmas shopping seasons for Chinese retailers and restaurants.

“During Lunar New Year, it’s when a bulk of the major business happens,” Chow said. “Restaurants are filled, people are buying new clothes, flowers, gifts, that’s where they earn a bulk of their revenue.”

The pandemic has been particularly hard on front-line workers who are Chinese-Canadian, Justin Kong, the executive director of the Toronto chapter of the Chinese Canadian National Council, said in a recent interview.

“Racialized immigrant communities have been deeply impacted by the virus,” he said. “What we’re seeing is tremendous economic damages.”

Chinese-Canadians make up one of the largest groups in Canada living in poverty, Statistics Canada data shows, and Kong said the issue has been exacerbated due to COVID-19, with many losing their retail and service sector jobs.

Kong and his organization wants the federal and provincial governments to allow more paid sick days to ensure workers who become ill or contract COVID-19 don’t have to worry about missed paycheques.

“The government needs to listen to workers and immigrant communities,” he said.

READ MORE: Canada hits 800,000 total cases of COVID-19, top doctor says numbers trending down

Nick Wells, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirusracism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Former Stettler area resident Art Kempf celebrated his 100th birthday on Feb 22nd. In the morning, 100 cows were placed by family on the lawn of Royal Oaks in Lacombe, and during the afternoon, a surprise party was arranged by staff and residents of Royal Oaks as well. Later that evening, a surprise virtual birthday party was held with friends and family to celebrate and honor Art.
photo submitted
Former Stettler area resident Art Kempf celebrated his 100th birthday Feb 22nd

Kempf now lives at the Royal Oak Village in Lacombe

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Board and school councils are celebrating staff during the month of February.
photo submitted
Board and school councils celebrate staff during the month of February

‘Our school staff and support staff make the success of our students happen.’

Alberta Health reported two new COVID-19 deaths in Red Deer Friday. (Image courtesy CDC)
Two more deaths linked to Olymel outbreak in Red Deer

Province reported 356 additional COVID-19 cases Friday

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney speaks during a news conference in Edmonton on Feb. 24, 2020. It’s budget day in the province, and Kenney’s United Conservative government is promising more help in the fight against COVID, but more red ink on the bottom line. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta’s budget promises more help for COVID-19 with a hard deficit

Annual spending on debt interest is closing in on $3 billion

Bookings for COVID-19 vaccines for people age 75 or older start Wednesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Updated: Delays for seniors booking for vaccine appointments

By 9:20 a.m. Wednesday, 4,500 seniors had booked their appointments

A helicopter flies past a mountain near McBride, B.C., on Saturday January 30, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Avalanche warning for backcountry users in North and South Rockies

Avalanche Canada is urging backcountry users to always check their regional avalanche forecasts

Supporters pray outside court in Stony Plain, Alta., on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021, as a trial date was set for Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church. He is charged with holding Sunday services in violation of Alberta’s COVID-19 rules and with breaking conditions of his bail release. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Trial date for jailed Alberta pastor charged with breaking COVID-19 health orders

The court says it will reconvene with lawyers on March 5 for a case management plan by teleconference

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

Emily Keeping of Wetaskiwin, Alta., was last seen at 4:20 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin. Supplied/ Wetaskiwin RCMP.
UPDATE: Wetaskiwin RCMP seek assistance in locating missing 11-year-old

Emily Keeping was last seen on Feb. 25, 2021 at the FasGas on 49 St and 50 Ave in Wetaskiwin.

Sylvan Lake's Winter Village lured many visitors to the town this winter. The town has launched a new contest to attract a new business.
(Black Press file photo)
Sylvan Lake offering rent-free storefront space to lure new businesses

Winning business proposal will get a storefront space rent-free for a year

Alberta premier Jason Kenney, right and Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, provide details about Bill 13, the Alberta Senate Election Act., in Edmonton Alta, on Wednesday June 26, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Minister Doug Schweitzer talks on Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit

Provincial government rolling out new benefit this April to better help small businesses.

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh holds a press conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
NDP will not trigger election as long as pandemic continues: Singh

‘“We will vote to keep the government going’

Mike Ammeter (Photo by Rebecca Hadfield)
Sylvan Lake man elected chair of Canadian Canola Growers Association

Mike Ammeter is a local farmer located near the Town of Sylvan Lake

Most Read