Since the onset of the pandemic, there has been a staggering rise in the number of instances of anti-Asian discrimination across Canada and the world. However, the unfortunate reality is this is not a new phenomenon.
A study conducted earlier this year found that 58% of Asian-Canadians experienced discrimination, and 1-in-4 report these experiences as happening “all the time.” So, what can we as individuals do to help combat this issue? How can philanthropy be used to eradicate anti-Asian racism? These are all questions our panel of experts explored in the latest session of the Generous Futures series—Dismantling Anti-Asian Racism.
The panel, moderated by Krishan Mehta, Ryerson’s Assistant Vice-President, Engagement, featured Chancellor Janice Fukakusa, Sabina Vohra-Miller and Dr. Joseph Yu Kai Wong. In this dynamic conversation, our experts share their insight on how we can better support equity and racial justice through philanthropy.
Here are 3 takeaways from the conversation about how we can work together to dismantle anti-Asian racism:
1. Education and research are imperative
Janice Fukakusa, Chancellor, Ryerson University, says the key to solving significant divides between people and cultures is—and always has been—education and research. Anti-Asian racism and discrimination are pervasive and have re-emerged in society over the last two centuries. Janice says the best way to combat it is to change how history is understood. For example, in the case of Asian-Canadians, Janice points out that students learn about European and North American history with little information about the waves of Asian immigration and the role they have played in Canadian history. This needs to change. The history taught needs to be accurate and inclusive and reflect the diverse and multicultural Canada of today. Doing their part to help tackle systemic racism, Janice and her family contributed $1 million to establish the Chancellor Janice Fukakusa Racial Justice Scholar in Residence program at Ryerson’s Lincoln Alexander School of Law. The goal is to advance critical research and scholarship in racial justice to create a more equitable and just society.
2. Provide support to marginalized and vulnerable communities
Sabina Vohra-Miller is the co-founder of the Vohra-Miller Foundation and the South Asian Health Network. Her work throughout the pandemic included focusing on culturally appropriate health education content and advocacy to address structural inequities in health care within the South Asian community. As important as this work was pre-pandemic, Sabina’s work became even more critical when the pandemic hit. For example, in Peel Region, the South Asian community was among the groups hit hardest by the pandemic, accounting for 45% of the cases but only making up 30% of the population. Sabina says this created stigmatization of South Asian communities even though the leading cause of virus transmission was and continues to be structural barriers of communities such as lack of access to healthcare, precarious and essential work and unsuitable living conditions. To provide support to these communities, Sabina and her team advocated for more transparent data about communities impacted by Covid-19 and the prioritization of hotspot communities for vaccines.
3. Reach one, teach one
Dr. Joseph Wong is a physician and philanthropist nationally recognized for his leadership in social activism for over 40 years. He is also the founder of the Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care—the largest non-profit senior centre in Canada. Dr. Wong says the best way to eradicate racism and discrimination is for individuals to dedicate time and effort to educate those who are willing to learn. There will always be people determined to harbour hate, however, Dr. Wong says for many, their discrimination is rooted in ignorance, so if we take the time to reach those individuals—change is possible. Canada’s diversity is its strength. Dr. Wong believes that if we all commit to understanding one another and having difficult conversations, we can be a model to the world about how to bring equity and harmony to different communities through volunteerism.
To hear more from this discussion, you can check out the Dismantling Anti-Asian Racism event on our Youtube channel or watch it below.
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Advancing Disability Rights
January 31, 2022
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