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

Wayne Allen's graduation photo from Chemainus Secondary School. (Photo submitted)
Brother charged with murder in Chemainus teenager’s Ontario death

Jesse James Allen stands accused in the death of Wayne Allen, a 2020 Chemainus Secondary grad

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Laketown Ranch to welcome campers this summer

Sunfest site will provide camping amenities between May and September

‘I chose my children’s breakfasts purely based on what dishes would fit best into the dishwasher.’ (Bobbi Venier photo)
Sarah Simpson Column: Delayed gratification and the benefits of efficiency

I was driving with just my daughter the other day and we… Continue reading

The frequent disruptions to water service in Chemainus are expected to be a lot less after North Cowichan replaces the Smiley Road water main. (File photo)
Smiley Road water main in Chemainus to be replaced

$890,000 project expected to be completed this spring

Cowichan Tribes open up vaccinations for members who are 40 and older. (File photo)
Cowichan Tribes opens up vaccinations for members 18 and older

Vaccination sessions to be held over weekend

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

A crossover utility vehicle smashed through the front of a business on Bowen Road on Friday evening. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Vehicle smashes all the way inside business in Nanaimo

No serious injuries reported after incident at Venue Financial Centres on Friday

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Kara Sorensen, diagnosed with lung cancer in July, says it’s important for people to view her as healthy and vibrant, rather than sick. (Photo courtesy of Karen Sorensen)
B.C. woman must seek treatment overseas for inoperable lung cancer

Fundraising page launched on Karen Sorensen’s behalf, with a goal of $250,000

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

Most Read