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

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, prepares a dose of the Moderna vaccine in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. Almost two in three Canadians surveyed recently said they trust COVID-19 vaccines to be both safe and effective. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Northern Health to open 30 COVID vaccine clinics for oldest residents, Indigenous seniors

Health authority says it plans to vaccinate nearly 15,000 people in Phase Two

Ranch Musings columnist David Zirnhelt. (File photo)
RANCH MUSINGS: Sometimes there is a glimmer, even a great insight, into rural folk

I start this column with a plain language poem from a book of poetry by Louise Gluck

Cassidy Dankochik joined the Observer’s staff in Aug. of 2020 by way of Gimli, Altona, and Flin Flon, Manitoba. (Photo by Tracey Roberts)
COLUMN: Keep it up Quesnel

Editor Cassidy Dankochik’s Column

Police say the driver of this SUV gestured to two teenaged girls to enter the back of his vehicle. (Quesnel RCMP Photo)
Quesnel RCMP searching for man who approached girls near school

Police say a man gestured to two teenagers to get in his SUV

Quesnel RCMP nabbed cash and guns alongside the drugs in the bust. (Observer file photo)
Quesnel RCMP seize half-kilo of drugs

Police also arrested five people while searching the home

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
‘It’s been a good week’: Tam hopeful on vaccines as pandemic anniversary nears

Tam says the addition of two new vaccines will help Canadians get immunized faster

Const. Allan Young. Photo: Abbotsford Police Department
Manslaughter charge laid in Nelson death of Abbotsford police officer

Allan Young died after an incident in downtown Nelson last summer

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Donald Alan Sweet was once an all star CFL kicker who played for the Montreal Alouettes and Montreal Concordes over a 13-year career. Photo courtesy of Mission RCMP.
Ex-B.C. teacher who was CFL kicker charged with assault, sexual crimes against former students

Donald Sweet taught in Mission School District for 10 years, investigators seek further witnesses

Most Read