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Many Chinese Canadians feel like outsiders as racism rises, poll shows

Last Updated Jun 22, 2020 at 10:58 pm CDT


Half of Chinese Canadians polled say they’ve experienced racist bullying during the pandemic

Only 13 per cent of Chinese Canadians asked say they feel others see them as Canadian

Fears about sending Chinese Canadian children back to school amid rising racism, shows poll

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The “shadow pandemic” of anti-Chinese racism is pervasive and impacting Chinese Canadians’ sense of belonging in Canada, according to a new poll.

The Angus Reid Institute and University of Alberta reached more than 500 Canadians with Chinese heritage and asked them about their experiences with racism since the pandemic began.

The results are stark and show how pandemic-era racism is increasing, says Shachi Kurl, executive director of the Angus Reid Institute.

“For example, half of the Canadians of Chinese ethnicity that we surveyed reported being called names or insulted as a direct result of the COVID outbreak,” she says.

Just slightly fewer, 43 per cent, say they’ve been threatened or intimidated.

Racist memes and social media posts have landed in front of more than 60 per cent of those polled.

Numerous violent assaults on people who appear Chinese have been reported since the pandemic began and now people with Chinese Heritage are even changing their routines to stay safe and avoid racist interactions.

“There have been moments or times when they’re out in the community, at the grocery store or other places where they’re made to feel that they’re posing a threat to the health and safety of others,” says Kurl.

Outsiders in their own country

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began as an outbreak in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, Chinese Canadians have increasingly felt less accepted in their own country and only 13 per cent polled say they feel others view them as Canadian, “all the time.”

The same question was asked of non-visible minorities in Canada four years ago and 47 per cent said, at the time, said others “always” viewed them as Canadians.

“While Chinese Canadians feel a really strong sense of Canadian identity (they almost unanimously say that being Canadian is an important part of their identity, they love the country and what it stands for,, they feel a strong sense of belonging), at the same time, very few Chinese Canadians say they think others in this country see them as fully Canadian,” says Kurl.

One-in-4 respondents say they feel “like an outsider in their own country” and 6-in-10 say they’ve changed their routines to avoid conflict.

“We’re hearing from survey respondents who say they’re actively avoiding social media now or changing their routes or changing how they and how often they interact with others,” to avoid racist encounters.

Kurl says the responses show a high level of anxiety amid the Chinese community.

“They’re worried about children of Chinese and Asian heritage when school is back, you know, they’re worried about little kids being bullied when school [fully] resumes post-COVID,” she says.

The Angus Reid institute also surveyed other Canadians on how COVID-19 related racism has impacted them and will release those results at a later date.

“There is little doubt, however, that the weight of this problem has settled predominantly on the shoulders of those whose ethnic identification is Chinese, a segment of the Canadian population that comprises approximately 1.77 million individuals, or five per cent of Canada’s total population, according to Statistics Canada,” says the institute.