Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with further information to reaffirm the statistic of Canadian Americans being physically assaulted.
A new survey conducted in Canada shows nearly 30% of Chinese Canadians have been personally threatened or intimidated during the COVID-19 pandemic with 8% of the total survey reporting they were physically attacked in the highest degree, with an additional 21% reporting physical attacks in lower degrees.
Angus Reid Institute, in partnership with University of Alberta, released a report
on June 22 showing the result of their survey of 516 Chinese Canadian residents (44% born in Canada; 22% born in mainland China, and 22% in Hong Kong) on their experience with discrimination amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Dr. Kimberly Knowles, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Alberta who worked on the report, said “the data is indicating that 29% of those surveyed have experienced at least some kind of physical altercation during the COVID-19 crisis,” according to Antihate.ca.
- When asked if they were “physically attacked by strangers” during COVID-19, 29% of respondents reported they were attacked — on a scale of one to six, one being “never” attacked and six being “always” attacked, 8% picked four, five or six, and 21% picked two or three for a total of 29%.
- 50% of those surveyed reported being insulted or called names because of the outbreak; 43% reported being threatened or intimidated in various degrees.
- “When those who have ever experienced these encounters over the last three months are totalled, fully two-thirds of Chinese Canadians (64%) have faced at least some level of disrespect during COVID-19.”
- In other parts of the survey, 30% of the respondents said they were exposed frequently to anti-Chinese social media/graffiti/propaganda/jokes, etc., during the pandemic; 29% of the people surveyed said they were made to feel like they pose “threat to the health and safety of others,” and 24% said they had been treated with less respect than other people.
- 61% Chinese Canadians reported that they changed their behaviors to avoid some of the worst form of abuse since the pandemic started.
- When asked “to what extent, if at all, do you think Canadians blame people of Chinese ethnicity for COVID-19,” 79% of the participants in the survey chose three or higher on a six-point response scale where one is “not at all/never” and six is “always.”
Why it matters: the survey, one of the first of it’s kind amid the study of race-related discrimination and violence due to COVID-19, sheds light on how Asian hate crimes go under-reported in Western countries like Canada and the US.
- “We know that hate crimes and hate-motivated incidents are generally underreported. We believe the increase in March is indicative of a larger issue,” Vancouver Police Officer Tania Visintin said in a statement in April. “We are making a plea to victims or people who witness hate crimes to please come forward and report the incidents to police so they can be investigated.”
- Reports like this will also help put a greater spotlight on the issue to address the lack of action from justice systems, highlighted in the U.S. when senators and members of congress wrote letters to the Department of Justice to take meaningful action to address the rising hate crime numbers.