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Coronavirus stokes Asian discrimination fears in Canada's biggest city

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Coronavirus stokes Asian discrimination fears in Canada's biggest city

By Denise Paglinawan and Moira Warburton

 

2020-01-28T235643Z_2_LYNXMPEG0R25J_RTROPTP_4_CHINA-HEALTH-CANADA-DISCRIMINATION.JPG

A man wearing a mask walks in the Chinatown district of downtown Toronto, Ontario, after 3 patients with novel coronavirus were reported in Canada January 28, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Osorio

 

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada has identified only three cases of the new coronavirus so far, but there are fears a more serious outbreak could stoke anti-Asian sentiment in scenes reminiscent of the SARS epidemic that killed dozens in the Toronto area in the early 2000s.

 

More than 9,000 people signed a petition urging one of the area's school boards to keep children whose family members recently returned from China out of classrooms, and some businesses in Toronto's Chinatown are already recording a slowdown.

 

SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, killed 44 people in the Toronto area, causing widespread fear and making Canada the only country outside Asia to report deaths from that virus in 2002-2003. So far the new coronavirus has killed more than 100 people in China.

 

"This is exactly what happened during SARS," Amy Go, interim national president of the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice, told Reuters in reference to the school board petition.

 

"We really, really have to check that we are not being overwhelmed by irrational fear and irrational panic," she said.

 

The York Region School Board responded to the petition by saying it understood "that students and their families are feeling some anxiety," but cautioned that anyone can contract and transmit the virus.

 

The situation "can regrettably give rise to discrimination based on perceptions, stereotypes and hate," the board said.

 

Health Minister Patty Hajdu on Tuesday said there was a risk Chinese Canadians could feel "somewhat targeted" because of the origin of the virus, and that it could hurt their businesses if people shun them out of fear.

 

But the Asian community is also among the most concerned about the virus, said Polly Chow, a Chinese-Canadian mother from Toronto.

 

She said she agreed with the board petition, and with her son's private school "emergency order" that children be self-quarantined for 15 days if their families had travelled where there were confirmed cases.

 

Chow described an atmosphere of fear and protectiveness among parents, and said many students in her son's class did not attend school on Monday.

 

"All the kids who didn't attend were all the Asian kids," she told Reuters. "When you're Asian, you get exposed to news through the Asian media. You see more graphically what's happening in China, so that increases the fear."

 

The South Asian and Chinese communities are the two largest visible minorities in Canada, and some 1.8 million people, or just under 5% of the country's total population, are of Chinese descent.

 

On Tuesday, authorities in British Columbia reported Canada's third case of the novel coronavirus in Vancouver. The first two to contract the virus in Canada - a husband and wife - live in Toronto. All three recently returned from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.

 

Tonny Louie, chair of Toronto Chinatown Business Improvement Area, said business activity had already slowed due to concern over the virus, and scenes like the one Tuesday at Toronto's Chongqing Liuyishou Hot Pot, where all the employees wore surgical masks meant to protect them from contagion, do not help.

 

"The numbers are down," Louie said. "There's not that many people in the street."

 

(Reporting by Denise Paglinawan and Moira Warburton in Toronto; additional reporting by Kelsey Johnson in Ottawa and Tessa Vikander in Vancouver; Writing by Steve Scherer; Editing by Tom Brown)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-01-29

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The amount of racism in a country is staggering. I experience some xenophobia in Thailand but you should read comments on Canadian shopping forum redflagdeals. The racism towards Asians and Chinese is truly awful. I never experienced this from Thai people.

 

The only thing I can think of is the unaffordable real estate in Toronto. They blame Chinese for everything. Even for the lack of face masks at the pharmacy they are accusing Chinese of buying them all and sending it back to Chine.... I kid you not. Never mind that this is a first world country and a supply of face masks should not be an issue at all.

Edited by Pravda
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As a Canadian, I can tell you that the Canadians aren’t racist enough. They let anyone in as long as the government will benefit from them in some way. 

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2 hours ago, Pravda said:

The amount of racism in a country is staggering. I experience some xenophobia in Thailand but you should read comments on Canadian shopping forum redflagdeals. The racism towards Asians and Chinese is truly awful. I never experienced this from Thai people.

 

The only thing I can think of is the unaffordable real estate in Toronto. They blame Chinese for everything. Even for the lack of face masks at the pharmacy they are accusing Chinese of buying them all and sending it back to Chine.... I kid you not. Never mind that this is a first world country and a supply of face masks should not be an issue at all.

I'm Canadian and grown up in Montreal area. At least most people I know are not racist at all. We are used to go to multi ethnic school and I never gave a second thought to other people race. I was shocked when I started travelling and heard people talking about other race. I even met some fellow drunken Canadian who wanted to fight with me because I speak French but they were the exception. 

Edited by Tayaout
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6 hours ago, Tayaout said:

I'm Canadian and grown up in Montreal area. At least most people I know are not racist at all. We are used to go to multi ethnic school and I never gave a second thought to other people race. I was shocked when I started travelling and heard people talking about other race. I even met some fellow drunken Canadian who wanted to fight with me because I speak French but they were the exception. 

 

Come on man. I spent 15 years in Montreal. I arrived on the boat just in time for a French referendum. Don't you remember Jacques and his famous words? 

 

Anyhoo you don't experience much racism in school or a workplace because it is policed. There are actual consequences for being racist. Not on the internet tho where worst of the worst shines. 

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8 hours ago, rabas said:

Sigh. This is not anti-Asian. It is anti-virus.

Luckily, the virus won't discriminate, it'll infect everybody. Apart from the timeline, when it starts spreading from Asian communities that will have had more contact with China.

 

Political correctness is a deadly trait.

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23 hours ago, Pravda said:

The amount of racism in a country is staggering. I experience some xenophobia in Thailand but you should read comments on Canadian shopping forum redflagdeals. The racism towards Asians and Chinese is truly awful. I never experienced this from Thai people.

 

The only thing I can think of is the unaffordable real estate in Toronto. They blame Chinese for everything. Even for the lack of face masks at the pharmacy they are accusing Chinese of buying them all and sending it back to Chine.... I kid you not. Never mind that this is a first world country and a supply of face masks should not be an issue at all.

Sending masks back to China. 😆😆

Some/most? of the most believed and fastest spreading stories start with either  A friend told me/I heard that -------------

Edited by overherebc
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22 hours ago, CanuckThai said:

I'm not sure where any of the "Canada is racist" commenters are from, or where they visited in Canada.....but I call bull @@it.  I've been coast to coast to coast, worked and lived in Vancouver to Halifax and in between.  Racism is Canada is a non sequitur.  

 

Canadians are standing up and voicing our anger/concern, to protect the "Canadian way", not the Canadian race.  So yes, there is a passionate drive to retain "our way" during this time of mass immigration....

 

 

'If' Canadians have become racist it must be a recent deveopment. Travelling in Canada in the 70's it was unusual to meet a Canadian whose Grandparents were all Canadian born. Usually one grandparent was Polish, German, Dutch, Russian, Scottish, Asian (various) and so on.

If you wanted to go further back than 3 generations of Canadian born you had to go and talk to a member of the Blackfoot tribe who I believe actually came from the Alberta/Montana region.

Maybe any that are racist in Canada have forgotten their roots.

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