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United Steelworkers Statement on Asian Heritage Month 2023

May 4, 2023

Dear Steelworkers,

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

According to Statistics Canada (Ethnic Origin Reference Guide, Census of Population, 2016), Asian people are those with origins or ancestry in:

  • East Asia (e.g. China, Korea, Japan, Tibet)
  • South Asia (e.g. Bangladesh, Indian, Pakistan, Sri Lanka)
  • Southeast Asia (e.g. Laos, Cambodia, Philippines, Vietnam)
  • West Asia (e.g. Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Turkey)
  • Central Asia (e.g. Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan)

While we recognize the contributions of Asian Canadian people to Canada, we are also aware that there is much more to be done to fight for human rights and equality for everyone. Recent hate crimes and discrimination against Asian people, which increased sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic, clearly show how far we have to go.

Organizations such as the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice (CCNC-SJ) have pointed out that current anti-Asian actions emerge in a historical pattern. Beginning with the Chinese Head Tax and the Exclusion Act in earlier Canadian history, to the anti-Asian actions during SARS, to COVID, anti-Asian discrimination and violence has been commonplace in Canadian society.

According to the Vancouver Police Department, anti-Asian hate crimes rose by 717% between 2019 and 2021. A joint 2020 report by the CCNC-JC and Project 1907 showed that since the onset of COVID, there are more Canadian anti-Asian racist incidents per capita than in the U.S. As Canadians, this is shocking.

During Asian Heritage Month, we celebrate the diversity Asian people bring to Canada, but we also demand that Asian people be protected from bigotry and hate, ranging from verbal discrimination to outright physical violence that is demonstrated today.

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
  • Support the USW National Anti-Racism Working Group’s initiatives
  • Work with your local human rights committees to educate your membership
  • Lobby federal and provincial governments for greater equality for all equity-seeking groups

In solidarity,

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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