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

Bears are starting to come out of hibernation, coordinator of Maple Ridge division of WildSafeBC warns. (Ross Davies/Special to The News)
Bear sightings in Maple Ridge

Coordinator of WildSafeBC Maple Ridge warning residents to eliminate attractants

Karen Bolingbroke just recently moved to Maple Ridge and has done a bit of exploring. “This is a beautiful area and I’ve captured a few picutres at Cliff Falls.” (Special to The News)
SHARE: Maple Ridge resident explores Cliff Falls area

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Information for Phase Two of vaccinations to come out Monday, March 1 (Black Press Files)
Phase 2 vaccination information coming March 1

Maple Ridge - Pitt Meadows Community Services committed to helping seniors get the jab

The WLA has released a summer schedule.
Maple Ridge Burrards announce lacrosse schedule

League has 12-game schedule to start in June, pending health orders lifting

One of 24 felines trapped and brought to Katie’s Place from a local business. (Magda Romanow/Special to The News)
Maple Ridge cat shelter turns 20

Katie’s Place has taken in thousands of felines among other small animals

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Several BC Ferries sailings are cancelled Friday morning due to adverse weather. (Black Press Media File)
Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay ferry sailing cancelled due to high winds, sea state

Adverse weather causes cancellations across several BC Ferries routes

The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. (Black Press Media files)
Possible miscarriage of justice in B.C. woman’s conviction in toddler drowning: prosecutor

Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge

A kid in elementary school wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Metro Creative)
Union asks why an elementary school mask rule wouldn’t work in B.C. if it does elsewhere

B.C. education minister announced expansion of mask-wearing rules in middle, high school but not elementary students

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

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

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: B.C. teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

Teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressures from outside and within

Captain and Maria, a pair of big and affectionate akbash dogs, must be adopted together because they are so closely bonded. (SPCA image)
Shuswap SPCA seeks forever home for inseparable Akbash dogs

A fundraiser to help medical expenses for Captain and Maria earned over 10 times its goal

Most Read