By Gabrielle Olano
Chinese Canadians and other Asian Canadians continue to be victims of racism as they are still perceived as foreigners today, said panelists on Friday.
The Anti-Asian Racism, Redress and Reconciliation panel discussion took place at the Oakham Lounge as part of Ryerson’s ninth social justice week.
Avvy Go, the clinic director of the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, cited a 2017 study from researchers at Ryerson University and the University of Toronto mentioning that applicants with Asian last names are 28 per cent less likely to get called for a job interview.
“Clearly, racism against Asians still exists and is very much tied to this idea that we are non-Canadians, we are the others, we are foreigners, we have foreign names, we don’t belong,” said Go.
According to panelists, Chinese Canadians, as well as Japanese Canadians, still feel excluded in Canada, particularly in B.C., in relation to the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1923 and the internment of Japanese Canadians in 1942.
Following the apology in 2012 for the internment, Japanese Canadians are still working to get reparation from the B.C. government. A statement of regret was made but without acknowledgement of the dispossession of land, way of life and economic base that Japanese Canadians experienced as a result of decisions made by the City of Vancouver and B.C. politicians.
Maryka Omatsu, the first East Asian woman judge in Canada, along with the National Association of Japanese Canadians are pushing for a follow-up.
“I lived in B.C. for half a year, and I can feel the racism there as an Asian woman. In Vancouver, it’s over 50 per cent Asian, and the white community, I think, feels threatened by having all these Asians there,” said Omatsu.
Panelists discussed the Asian community’s misrepresentation in media, referencing the article “Too Asian?” by Maclean’s Magazine, which implied that Canadian Universities enrolled too many Asians. The article is now titled “The enrollment controversy” after the previous title received backlash.
“The portrayal in media of Asians, and all these racist stereotypes are still being perpetrated. It impacted us in terms of our employment opportunities, our housing opportunities, our advancement and our access to public services,” said Amy Go, the interim president of The Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice.
Panelists also spoke on the importance of remembering and preserving the history of Asian settlement, as there was an inevitable loss of culture due to racist policies.
“A lot of the time, nowadays, we have trouble identifying what we have in common with the older generations, and sometimes we get too involved in our own stories as immigrants or second generation refugee children, that we don’t try to learn about issues affecting other communities,” said Michelle Nguyen, a research assistant for the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Migration and Integration at Ryerson University.