Anti-Asian hate incidents up by 47% in Canada, report reveals

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  • A total of 943 hate incidents were reported in Canada in 2021, marking a 47% increase from the previous year.
  • Women, children and East Asians composed the majority of the reports.
  • Nearly half (48%) of the incidents occurred in public spaces, including parks, streets and sidewalks.
  • Verbal harassment was the most reported form (48%) of discrimination, followed by shunning (13%), coughing at or spitting on (12%), and physical force (7%).
  • The new data comes from the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter (CCNCTO) and Project 1907, which collected self- and witness-reported incidents online.

Anti-Asian hate incidents in Canada have increased by 47% in 2021 compared to the previous year, according to a new report released by the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter (CCNCTO) and Project 1907.

A total of 943 racist and xenophobic incidents were reported across the country between Jan. 1, 2021 and Dec. 31, 2021, the report said. The figure includes both self- and witness-reported experiences.

Nearly half (48%) of the incidents occurred in public spaces, including parks, streets and sidewalks. Verbal harassment was the most reported form (48%) of discrimination, followed by shunning (13%), coughing at or spitting on (12%), physical force (7%) and others.

East Asians reported the majority (51%) of the incidents, but dramatic spikes were observed among other Asian groups. Southeast Asians, which composed 17% of the reports, saw a 121% increase from 2020, while South Asians, which made up 4% of the total, saw a 318% surge from the same year.

Meanwhile, women represented the majority of the victims at 64%. Incidents against gender non-conforming or non-binary people rose by 73%, while attacks against transgender people increased by 64%.

Alarmingly, incidents against children and adolescents aged 18 and below saw the highest increase at 286%. Those aged 19 to 35 reported a 43% growth, while those 36 to 55 saw a 51% spike.

The figures support the findings of two national surveys released earlier this year. It is also worth noting that Vancouver saw a 717% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes from 2019 to 2020, which led to the city being dubbed the “Anti-Asian Hate Crime Capital of North America.”

Jessie Tang, executive director of the CCNCTO, described trends in the new report as “disheartening” and “disturbing.” She stressed the importance of long-term solutions in combating racism.

“Discrimination, racism, violence and hate hurt our community. This is a systemic issue that requires long-term, committed action by individuals, institutions and governments at all levels and in all sectors,” Tang said.

There is also a need to counter online hate, which surged by 132% in 2021. “Oftentimes behind a screen it’s a lot easier to kind of direct our hate in an anonymous basis,” said Kennes Lin, the anti-Asian racism advisor to CCNCTO.

In the U.S., anti-Asian incidents are believed to be massively underreported. Self-reporting websites appear to log only a small fraction of the problem, but they nonetheless serve as important channels to convey information that can be used in policymaking.

Ellen K., a community organizer from Project 1907, a grassroots advocacy group made up of Asian women, said having a platform to report hate incidents can help mitigate the stress resulting from them.

“Because the lives of Asian Canadians are so often marked by experiences of invisibility, our reporting centres play an important role in providing a safe mechanism for community members to regain a sense of control,” Ellen K. said.

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