The City of Ottawa says the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to a spike in anti-Asian racism in the nation's capital.
In a post on its website on Tuesday, the City reported a dramatic rise in the number of hate incidents targeting residents of East Asian descent.
"Ottawa prides itself on our multiculturalism," the City says. "But since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our city has seen increasing reports of hate incidents targeting Asian residents. Although anti-Asian racism previously existed in Ottawa, the pandemic has created a new form of anti-Asian racism that links China and the novel coronavirus."
The City says, in 2020, the Ottawa Police Service responded to 15 reports of hate incidents targeting people of East Asian descent, a dramatic rise from the two cases reported in 2019.
"These numbers reflect just reported cases, with many going unreported. Members of Ottawa’s Asian community have reported being targets of verbal threats, intimidation and even physical attacks," the City said.
Some of the incidents police have investigated involved people in cars approaching pedestrians and yelling slurs and obscenities at them.
In another case, a local man said he received a COVID-related death threat.
Police launched a campaign in mid-May urging residents who witness or are victims of racist attacks to come forward.
"Since the global pandemic has emerged, we have been very concerned and aware of rising racism, xenophobia, discrimination, hate incidents and crimes, in particular targeting our Asian communities globally and here in Canada," the Ottawa Police Service said. "We are aware of how unsettling and how much fear this garners with our local communities."
The City condemned all forms of racism in its statement on Tuesday.
"The City of Ottawa condemns all forms of racism. Municipal government plays a leading role in identifying and challenging systemic racism. Led by its Anti-Racism Secretariat, the City is committed to advancing a more inclusive and responsive municipal government, to ensure all people are served equitably. The secretariat is also working to increase public awareness of racism and to provide tools for anti-racism education," the City said.