Marking the 20th anniversary of Asian Heritage Month in Ottawa

Several members of Ottawa's Asian communities gathered for an afternoon of performances celebrating Asian culture.

"This is the first occasion after the pandemic to highlight the contributions of the Asian community,” said Nepean MP Chandra Arya, who hosted Asian Heritage Month on Parliament Hill. 

This year marks the 20th anniversary since Canada declared May as Asian Heritage Month. For Ann Phung and her brother Tam, this month is also a reminder that more could be done to highlight the increase of racism against Asian Canadians.

“During the beginning stage of the pandemic, people would call me derogative words and terms,” she said. 

"If I coughed people would give me looks,” said Tam. "I know it’s not a physical thing but it does hurt me mentally and impact on my self-esteem and intelligence."

A national report by the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter and Project 1907 showed a surge in anti-Asian racism across the country in 2021. At the height of the pandemic, there was an increase of verbal harassment, being shunned, spat on or coughed at.

"There were several incidents that happened in our community that related to hate crimes and anti-Asian behaviours," said Yukang Li, the executive director of Chinatown BIA.

Chinatown BIA advocating that these challenges need to be addressed now more than ever and continue beyond the month of May.

"It’s a year long effort,” said Li. "We need to focus on, to advocate, to care more about the Asian community, listen to the voices and build better one for everybody.”