On March 28 numerous protests were organized in cities throughout Canada, including one in the Okanagan, in response to a deadly shooting that occured in Atlanta on March 16 and an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. These protests represented the Asian Canadian Community’s fight against racism and their solidarity with victims of hate crimes.
The rallies were organized by a number of organizations across Canada, as well as by UBCO student Mona Wang. The Phoenix had the opportunity to interview Mona Wang in order to learn more about these protests and what we as UBCO students can do to support the Asian community,
The Phoenix: Could you talk about what is happening in Canada and the US concerning anti-Asian hate?
Wang: There’s been a surge in anti-asian hate ever since the pandemic began, such as calling it the China-virus and hate crimes against people of Asian descent. A report from The Vancouver Police Department had stated over a 700% increase in Asian hate crimes and that's ridiculous. But this isn't anything new; as an immigrant I'm seeing a lot of the hate crimes and oppression firsthand, not only for myself, but also my family and a lot of the friends that I have.
A lot of the time when people think about race and oppression, they tend to ignore Asians because there's that whole stereotype that we are the “model minority” and we seem to be very silent about the things that we have to endure. Plus the whole idea that we've easily assimilated into the culture that we’re in, but it's another tactic to further divide the minorities and prevent solidarity.
Looking back into the history of British Columbia, we have the internment camps and a lot of segregation. With the railway, the Canadian government brought many people from Asia here to build it and many of them lost their lives. As soon as the railway was finished, they implemented the head tax and then the immigration ban. It's such an obvious and blatant way of saying your people do not belong here, you are not welcome.
TP: You were involved in the planning of protests in solidarity with Asian communities across Canada, how did you go about planning these protests and what organizations did you work with?
Wang: The point of these protests were to support the victims and their families from the Atlanta shooting and raising awareness of the fact that we also face oppression to have the public start talking about things we have to endure. Now we've seen a lot more media and news coverage on these hate crimes and it's not like this didn't happen before. They were always here, it’s only now people are talking about it, being aware that we are here, and we're not going to stay silent anymore.
The protests were held all across Canada and we tried to have most of them on the same date. We had Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Victoria, the Okanagan, and a couple other cities as well. All of these were put together by different organizations across the country and it was a really great pleasure to be working with them and have the same goals and desires to create change.
TP: Do you think the university and the SUO is adequately addressing this issue? What should the university be doing to provide support to Asian communities and to Asian students?
Wang: The university is doing a good job. The most important thing, in my opinion, is keeping the professors and students and staff accountable. We have seen news coverage and reports of professors treating international and POC students differently. When these claims are put forward, even if they don't make it onto the news, it should be something that the university should investigate and take seriously.
TP: How can UBCO students and the community support Asian communities?
A large portion of these acts of oppression are microaggressions. I often hear a lot of distasteful and judgemental words against international students, about how they pay their way into the university and etcetera. Definitely some sensitivity training, courses, poster campaign, or anything else to address these common misconceptions in order to create a more respectful environment.
Also, keeping yourself and others accountable as well. If you see someone being harassed or if your friends are saying something insensitive, it’s important to take the time to say “Hey man, that's not okay to say.”