Asian Heritage Month 2022

In May each year, Steelworkers join with communities celebrating Asian Heritage Month.

In Canada, Asian people include those from the following countries:

  • East Asia: China, Hong Kong, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea and Taiwan.
  • South Asia: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
  • Central Asia: Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
  • Southeast Asia: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

As we recognize the vast contributions of Asian Canadian people to the country and civil society, we are also aware that there is much more to be done to fight anti-Asian racism. The pronounced spike in hate crimes and discrimination against Asian people during the COVID-19 pandemic clearly shows how far we have to go.

Organizations such as the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice (CCNC-SJ) have pointed out that anti-Asian sentiment has a deep history in Canada. From the Chinese Head Tax and the Chinese Exclusion Act, to anti-Asian incidents during SARS and the current pandemic, anti-Asian discrimination and violence has long been common place in Canadian society.

According to the Vancouver Police Department, the percentage of anti-Asian hate crimes rose by 717% between 2019 and 2021. A joint 2020 report by the CCNC-SJ and Project 1907 showed that since the onset of the pandemic, there have been more anti-Asian racist incidents per capita in Canada than in the U.S. This is deeply troubling and unacceptable. and produced a survey which breaks down anti-Asian actions into various categories. The findings showed that:

  • 44% of cases were reported in British Columbia and 40% were reported in Ontario.
  • 60% of the victims identified as women.
  • 11% of cases involved violent physical assault or unwanted contact.
  • 10% of cases included being coughed or spat on.

Steelworkers have always stood up for justice for equity-seeking groups. During Asian Heritage Month, we celebrate the rich and diverse cultures of Asian Canadians and we also demand that Asian people are no longer subjected to the shameful violence and discrimination that persists across Canada to this day.

In October 2021, the union established the National Anti-Racism Work Group (NARWG) to help identify and recommend solutions to dealing with racism in our union and in our communities. We urge all Steelworkers to work closely with the NARWG in their consultations throughout the union.

We call on all Steelworkers to:

  • Intervene against acts of discrimination as bystanders and allies.
  • Use your collective agreement to promote diversity and prevent discrimination and racism in the workplace.
  • Work with your local human rights committees to educate your membership.
  • Lobby federal and provincial governments for greater equality for all equity-seeking groups.

Steelworkers stand in support of all Asian Canadians demanding respect and equity and we will continue to fight alongside you at every step of the way.

Marty Warren
National Director for Canada

Scott Lunny
USW District 3 Director

Dominic Lemieux
USW District 5 Director

Myles Sullivan
USW District 6 Director

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