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Montreal, June 3, 2020 — In a historic move, many Asian community organizations will join CRARR in pushing for City Councillor Marvin Rotrand’s motion to call on City Council to unanimously denounce the rise anti-Asian racism in Montreal linked to COVID-19.

The motion, tabled last Friday by Councillor Rotrand with CRARR’s help, calls on all members to unanimously and vigorously denounce acts of hatred, discrimination, and violence directed against Montrealers of various Asian origins. It also calls on City Council to “undertake to provide all Montrealers of diverse Asian origins with safety and effective protection … throughout the entire territory of the City of Montreal.” The Motion will be up for a vote at City Council’s meeting on June 15th.

Since February, due to the stigmatization of the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus”, there has been a noted increase in reported acts of racist harassment, assaults, and insults online in shops, public transit, parks, and streets perpetrated against Asian Montrealers, and especially Asian women.

“The coronavirus has spread not only infection and death, but also hate and violence directed at people who are or who look Chinese, and the incidents have grown both in numbers and severity in the last three months,” said Fo Niemi, CRARR Executive Director. “Unfortunately, many government and civic leaders still remain silent.”

On average, CRARR receives 2 or 3 complaints a year from Asian individuals regarding acts of hate. However, in the last three months, it received 18 requests for help. Similarly, between March and May alone, the Vancouver Police Department reported 29 hate crimes. The Montreal Police Service has yet to release its data. Federal data on police reported hate crimes released early this year showed that in 2018, 1,798 hate crimes were reported across Canada, 56 of which involved East Asians.

“For our study on anti-Asian hate acts, we received more than 15 reports in less than 3 months, and it affected people of all ages. Coming from people who seldom complain about racism, that’s very serious,” said Kyungseo Min, a Korean Montrealer who co-authored the report with McGill law student Lily Wang.

“More than even, we must denounce acts of anti-Asian racism and violence in Montreal and in the rest of Quebec. We need more support from the government to educate people about racism, this is why we support this Motion,” said Lauren Luu, administrator of an online group on Facebook, Groupe d’Entraide contre le racisme envers les asiatiques au Québec, which has more than 5,000 members.

“Many members of the Filipino community are afraid of COVID-19 because many of us work in the health care sector, and they are also afraid of by racism because of the stupid association of the coronavirus with the “Chinese virus”, added Ramon Vicente, External Vice-President of the Filipino Association of Montreal and Suburbs.

”It is because of increasing racism and violence, and crying needs for help from Asian communities throughout the city, the lack of concrete actions from authorities and the Montreal Police that CRARR approached me about presenting a motion to call on the City of Montreal to condemn anti-Asian racism,” Rotrand explained. “I accepted immediately because history has shown that if we remain silent about words of hate, acts of hate will soon follow.”

Councillor Rotrand’s motion is also endorsed by the Concordia Student Union (CSU) which represents 37,1000 undergraduate students. The CSU officially supported CRARR’s campaign in April. It is joined today by the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU), which represents 23,000 undergraduate students.

“The SSMU is joining the campaign against anti-Asian racism because even though everyone has a responsibility to resist racial discrimination, not everyone does, precisely because it doesn't affect everyone. The present moment of upheaval reflects the extreme social inequities that Black communities have long faced in this city, and the SSMU is committed to combating, proactively and relentlessly, all forms of systemic racism embedded in our society,” said Ayo Ogunremi, SSMU VP External.

According to the CSU Academic and Advocacy Coordinator Sarah Mazhero, ”The COVID-19 crisis has created fear, stress and uncertainty for our students, in addition to abuse, discrimination, and other civil rights violations,” she said. “This is why the CSU has decided to support this Motion. Hatred, violence, and racism have no place in a city as international, multi-ethnic, and pluralist as Montreal!”, she noted.

Other groups supporting the motion include Progressive Chinese of Quebec and the Montreal Chinatown Economic Development Council.

CRARR urges all Montrealers to contact Mayor Valérie Plante and their city councillors to ask them to vote in favor of Councillor Rotrand’s motion.

Motion to Denounce Anti-Asian Racism 06-20.pdf88.92 KB