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As COVID-19 continues across Canada, racism against Asian Canadians is on the rise.
Immigration Partnership Winnipeg(IPW) launched their COVID-19 Doesn’t Discriminate. Nor Should You! campaign on May 12.
The awareness campaign is a collaboration between multiple community organizations, aiming to combat racism against immigrant communities caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The organization will provide resources and information for victims of discrimination, host educational events for residents, and raise awareness through posters and a social media campaign where frontline workers use the hashtag #EssentialinMB to talk about their experiences.
The information sheets will be translated into common languages spoken by victims, such as Mandarin and Tagalog.
Jessica Praznik, IPW program manager, said they hope to break through stereotypes surrounding the virus.
"This idea that (COVID-19) is connected to one ethnic group is inaccurate. This virus cannot just be caught and spread by one group of people," Praznik said. "(COVID-19) doesn’t care who you are. Plus, the amount of stress and pressure that comes with these discriminatory acts … are dreadful to Manitobans who are already experiencing hardship due to (the pandemic.)"
They plan to continue the campaign for as long as it’s needed.
Some Chinese-Canadian residents in Winnipeg are speaking out about the racism they’ve encountered.
Jennifer Chen, school board trustee for Winnipeg School Division Ward 6, has been a strong advocate for the immigrant community in Winnipeg. She’s experienced some discrimination herself, while hearing worse stories from her friends.
"My personal experience is … it started with jokes. Whenever an Asian person would cough, (people) would say "oh do you have COVID-19? For (Chinese-Canadians), we feel uncomfortable," Chen said. "I’ve heard many stories from other community members. I’ve heard from one health-care worker … Some (residents) don’t want (Asian health-care workers) to take care of them at all."
While the discrimination started as inappropriate jokes, Chen said many Asian Canadians are experiencing more intense racism as the pandemic drags on. She’s heard stories of residents spitting on Asian community members, yelling at them and making racist comments.
Chen added that many essential workers come from Asian or immigrant backgrounds. Many community members are risking their lives in health care, while facing racism during and after work.
According to a recent survey, published by the Canadian Union of Public Employees, one in five health-care workers of Asian heritage experienced racism in April. The heightened racism comes just before Asian Heritage Month in May.
Chen said this type of racism has to stop.
"During (the COVID-19 pandemic), immigrants are doing their part to take care of their home. They are helping to fight COVID-19, a lot of them are risking their lives," Chen said. "There are lots of good stories about immigrants helping the community. Let’s look at moving forward, look at the positivity and find those stories of how (immigrants) are helping the community every day."
For more information, or to view the campaign, visit ipwinnipeg.org
Community journalist — The Metro
Justin Luschinski is the community journalist for The Metro. Email him at email@example.com
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