Asian Heritage Month in Canada has since 2002 been a time to reflect on and recognize the many contributions that Canadians of Asian Heritage have made and continue to make to Canada. The theme for Asian Heritage Month 2022 is, “Continuing a legacy of greatness” and encourages all Canadians to take this opportunity to learn more about the history of Canadians of Asian heritage, who hail from more than 40 countries in the continent of Asia, and to celebrate their contributions to the growth and prosperity of Canada.
The Government of Canada website notes that the month is “a reminder for all Canadians to come together to combat anti-Asian racism and discrimination in all its forms”. This is an opportunity to act against anti-Asian racism which sadly is on the rise in Canada where there has been a 121% rise in racism reports from Southeast Asians. Notwithstanding this increase It is significant that only 1 to 5% of hate incidents are reported and approximately 2/3 of Canadians do not report them: Canadian Anti-Hate network.
Over 50% of the student population at UBC is Asian and we know that these students are deprived of the sense of belonging they should have in our community because of their experiences of racism in the form of micro assaults, microinsults and microinvalidation. These microaggressions are more than just insults or insensitive comments. They are not harmless. They are remarks, questions or actions that are painful because they are based on a person’s membership in a group that is subject to stereotypes, prejudice and exclusion.
Microaggressions communicate that someone “does not belong” and are closely tied to implicit biases. These are the attitudes, stereotypes and assumptions of which we are not even aware – “the thoughts about people you didn’t know you had”.
One way we can manage our implicit biases is to raise our awareness not only about the existence of the bias but about the targets of our biases. If we make the effort to learn about others in our community, to celebrate their diversity, to welcome and value their perspectives and their lived experiences we will move closer to creating a welcoming and inclusive community that is a safe and supportive space in which human rights are recognized and each of us can fully participate.
During Asian Heritage Month learn the history and explore the contributions of Asian Canadians. Educate yourself and really listen to what Asians in our community are telling us- about themselves and about our communities.
Learn more about the importance of recognizing the experiences of and contributions of Asian Canadians in Canada in this conversation with President Santa Ono: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Va3_TARG6i8