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Recognizing Asian Heritage Month – May

May 1, 2024
Graphic with Asian patterns in the background and text saying Asian Heritage Month

The month of May is Asian Heritage Month, honouring the lives and contributions of people of Asian origin here in Canada. This includes all those who have immigrated from East Asia, Southern Asia, Western, Central and Southeast Asia.

Asian and South Asian Canadians are proud members of the labour movement, including leaders and members within our own union. Millions of Asian Canadians have chosen Canada as their adopted home, building their lives here, including raising families and contributing to their communities, unions and growth of the country. Each year, thousands more choose Canada as a new home.

Asian Canadian workers have contributed to Canada – from building ships and railroads to front-line healthcare workers and far too many have been caught in the temporary work of caregiving, farming and factories, without a fair path to immigration.

Our union celebrates Asian and South Asian communities, diverse in cultures, traditions and languages, all across the diaspora. In recognizing the many contributions of Asian and South Asian Canadians, we must also acknowledge that Canada and its laws have not always been welcoming or kind to Asian and South Asian workers. Some examples include the Chinese head tax between 1885-1923, Japanese internment camps during World War II, a clash with police and the military in Vancouver when a ship arriving from India was denied entry to Canada and sent back to be persecuted by the British in India – known as the Komagata Maru incident. More recently, Islamophobia and COVID-19-related racism and hate crimes have had serious consequences for Asian and South Asian Canadians.

As a union, we can support the Asian and South Asian Canadian members by encouraging participation more fully in the labour and political movements, train and give space to activists.

As trade unionists, we can show solidarity by challenging systemic and organizational racism and discrimination, learning and relearning of how we can use tools like our collective agreements to fight for human rights and equity for workers, while also unlearning of stereotypes and negative portrayals.

Marty Warren
USW National Director

Scott Lunny
USW District 3 Director (Western Canada and the Territories)

Dominic Lemieux
USW District 5 Director (Québec)

Myles Sullivan
USW District 6 Director (Ontario and Atlantic Canada)

_______________________________

Helpful resources:

Asian Canadian Labour Alliance

Asian Heritage in Canada (Toronto Metropolitan University):
https://www.torontomu.ca/equity/resources/discourse-docs/asian-heritage-in-canada


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