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The teachers of British Columbia stand in solidarity with all people of Chinese ancestry and Asian heritage, who are experiencing a new wave of racist attacks fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Since the first outbreak of the novel coronavirus was reported in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019, hate crimes against people of Asian heritage have risen worldwide. Reports of people being assaulted, spat at, coughed on, shunned on transit, and racially taunted in the street and on social media have become frighteningly common in British Columbia, as elsewhere.

The Vancouver Police Department has reported a significant spike in anti-Asian hate crimes, including a brutal attack on a 93-year-old Chinese man and racist graffiti on culturally significant artworks and buildings in Chinatown. Hate “spreads like a virus and impacts us all,” a VPD spokesman said.

As teachers, we know this to be true. We witness the devastating impacts of racism in the lives of our students, colleagues, and friends of Asian heritage. These incidents highlight and expose the centuries old systemic prejudice and discrimination at the foundation of our Canadian society, scarcely hidden by the cheerful rhetoric of multiculturalism and tolerance.  

In our schools we teach about the long history of legislated anti-Asian racism in Canada: the 1907 White supremacist, union-led riot in Vancouver’s Chinatown and Japantown; the Komagata Maru Incident of 1914; the Chinese Head Tax, 1885–1923; the Chinese Exclusion Act, 1923–47; the internment of Japanese-Canadians, 1942–47. But beyond the history lessons, we collectively need to unlearn racism and acknowledge that’s what is holding us back from becoming the kind, equitable, democratic society we think we already are. 

As part of a strong social justice union, BCTF members work every day to help make the world a better place. We believe that every child has an equal right to education. That’s why it is our moral duty to speak out against hate, take action against racism, and inspire our students, families, and communities to join in the fight against racism. We also need to address systemic racism by advocating for changes to policies and structures that present barriers to full participation for people of Chinese ancestry and Asian heritage.

The BCTF’s work in antiracism education has grown and evolved over the past four decades. To learn more, please visit the antiracism page on our website.  

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For more information, contact Rich Overgaard, BCTF media relations officer, at rovergaard@bctf.ca.

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