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Vancouver woman launches campaign to combat anti-Asian attacks in the city

"We need more people to talk about this issue and to raise awareness about anti-Asian racism is happening in our home."
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Anti-Asian crimes in Vancouver saw an uptick since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, peaking in May 2020, according to police. Photo: Getty Images

In response to an escalation in physical and verbal attacks on members of the Asian community as well as anti-Asian vandalism in Vancouver and across North America, a local woman has launched a fundraising campaign to raise awareness about anti-Asian racism.

Organized by Karmina Cordero, a GoFundMe campaign to "Help us stop Asian hate" has already surpassed its modest $1,500 fundraising goal but is continuing to collect money.

"To kickstart this campaign, we need more people to talk about this issue and to raise awareness about anti-Asian racism is happening in our home. Every helpful resource out there is telling people to donate to charity, to educate themselves, and to volunteer at their local Chinatown community," states the campaign page.

The funds raised specifically for this GoFundMe are for Cordero to mount "a paid social media campaign to inform and drive traffic to a list of resources and charities to help others get started."

Cordero's expertise is well-placed; currently, she works in marketing for the landing page platform Unbounce, and has worked in digital strategy at several high-profile firms in her career. 

Anti-Asian crimes on the rise in Vancouver

Anti-Asian crimes are on the rise in Canada, and in British Columbia in particular. A report issued in September 2020 indicated acts of anti-Asian racism in Canada outnumbered those in the U.S., and specifically that B.C. had more anti-Asian incident reports than any other sub-national region in North America.

"This myth about Canada that we are multicultural, more kind, we're gentler than Americans, to me that's just a myth. As racialized Canadians, particularly racialized women, we know that the reality is quite different," said Amy Go, the president of the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice.

“After the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we identified a disturbing trend: an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes and hate-related incidents,” said VPD Cst. Howard Chow at the time.

Vancouver police reported a 717 per cent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes between 2019 and 2020, with the incidents peaking in May. Incidents in Vancouver have ranged from assaults to racist graffiti targeting businesses.

The increase in such crimes led to the VPD creating an anti-hate unit last July to clamp down on the growing trend.

Sgt. Steve Addison, a Vancouver police spokesman, said in an email that police do not have the ability to recommend hate crimes charges under the Criminal Code. It is a sentencing provision that is applied by the courts if a person is convicted of a Criminal Code offence, Addison said.

'Now is not the time to be the fly on the wall'

"As Asians, we were taught not to cause problems, not take up space, and be respectful," elaborates Cordero's GoFundMe page.

"But now is not the time to be the fly on the wall. We need our Vancouver community to come together and spread the message beyond just the Asian community."

Cordero adds that one particularly distressing aspect of the anti-Asian incidents reported in Vancouver is that many of the victims "are the vulnerable elderly."

"Your $5-$10 dollars will go a long way," urges Cordero.

With files from Sarah Grochowski and the Canadian Press