May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada.
The Asian Heritage Month embarks on a new journey in May 2021, creating a great opportunity for Canadian governments, corporations and the general public to combat racism and recognize the contributions that Asian Canadians have made since the beginning of the century.
In 2020, anti-Asian hate crimes increased by over 600% and 400%, respectively, in Ottawa and Montreal. It is unacceptable to see the increase in anti-Asian racism and hate crimes in a civilized world.
The federal government has provided funds to Asian Heritage Month to promote cultural heritage since its inception in 2002. However, celebrating the Asian cultures is not sufficient to help the general Canadians and corporations appreciate the benefits of diversity. For various reasons, Asians have become the target of racism, violence, and hate crimes during the pandemic. There is a pressing need to educate Canadians deep and wide on anti-Asian racism and eliminate racial stereotypes and unconscious bias.
Governments at all levels should consider results-driven strategies and programs:
- Education: Education and resources about anti-racism, diversity & inclusion should be introduced and promoted on an ongoing basis at schools, workplaces, local communities, traditional and social media, and the three levels of governments.
- Protection: Empower Asians, especially immigrants, with a system and communication channel to access resources and support, understand Canadian values and civil rights, and report racism and hate crimes.
- Legislation: Training for first responders on identifying and managing racial abuse; introduce laws and hefty penalties against racial hate crimes, and introduce actionable legislation to protect Asian Canadians
(The U.S.: Senate Resoundingly Passes Bill to Target Anti-Asian Hate Crimes)
- Funding: Government should own a portfolio on anti-racism with a results-driven strategy, plans, programs, funding and resources, as well as a measurable long-term goal to penetrate and support the communities and promote diversity and inclusion across Canada.
As a pioneer in strategic diversity and inclusion marketing and communications, we see this #TimeOfTheCentury opportunity for corporate leaders to take a holistic approach to make positive impacts on their business and our society. Many studies have proven that companies that genuinely embrace diversity and inclusion as part of their core corporate culture and business strategy outperform their peers in many ways. Yet, a recent diversity and inclusion survey conducted by Canadian Marketing Association indicated that unconscious bias and unequal opportunity are still common in the workplace.
Learn more about how employers and corporate leaders can support diversity and inclusion and #StopAsianHate:
- Learn about existing and potential racism behaviours at the workplace and have a plan to counter the behaviours.
- Manage unconscious bias and stereotypes against Asian communities by hosting affinity groups, discussions and workshops.
- Be an ally. Listen and communicate. Create a welcoming environment and support system for Asian employees, especially immigrants, who have experienced challenges adapting to the Canadian work culture or are currently facing discrimination at the workplace.
- Support local Asian businesses and organizations: include vendors of the ethnic minority on your vendor list, make donations to local charities, encourage your staff to volunteer, and establish strategic partnerships to promote multiculturalism and diversity and inclusion.
About Asian Heritage Month
“Asian Heritage Month is an opportunity for all Canadians to learn more about the many achievements and contributions of Canadians of Asian descent who, throughout our history, have done so much to make Canada the amazing country we share today.”
The theme for Asian Heritage Month 2021, “Recognition, Resilience, and Resolve”, embodies the myriad of sentiments that peoples of Asian descent in Canada have experienced and honours their contributions and their diverse stories which are rooted in resilience and perseverance. It is also a call to action for all Canadians to come together to combat all forms of anti-Asian racism and discrimination. Let us celebrate the incredible diversity that is our strength and be resolute in our stand against all forms of anti-Asian racism and discrimination.