In response to increasing COVID-19-related acts of racism, discrimination and xenophobia in Manitoba, Immigration Partnership Winnipeg (IPW) — together with several partnering organizations — launche its public awareness-building campaign, entitled: “Manitobans: COVID-19 Doesn’t Discriminate. Nor Should You!” (in French, Manitobain(e)s, La COVID-19 ne discrimine pas. Vous non plus!).
IPW’s campaign comes in answer to widespread reports of targeted acts of discrimination directed towards Manitoba’s Asian communities, other racialized groups and newcomer/refugee/immigrant peoples.
States IPW Director Hani Ataan Al-Ubeady: “In Manitoba, we have heard about incidents of COVID-19-related acts of racism and discrimination taking place at workplaces, on public transit, in grocery stores, online and in people’s own neighbourhoods.”
Adds Ethnocultural Council of Manitoba (ECCM) Co-Chair Perla Javate: “We are alarmed by the heightened racist rhetoric being directed towards Chinese people and other peoples of Asian backgrounds.”
“From the spreading of online comments and conspiracy theories associating the COVID-19 pandemic with a racial group, to being verbally assaulted and even spit at by neighbours, these incidents have no place in our society,” Javate says.
ECCM is comprised of over 20 different ethnic-based organizations and, in January, began receiving increasing reports of racist and discriminatory incidents related to COVID-19.
Al-Ubeady states that IPW’s campaign aims to: condemn the association of COVID-19 with any ethnic or racial group; provide information and tools for victims and witnesses to respond to acts of racism, discrimination and xenophobia; and highlight the key role many of these targeted community members play as Manitoba COVID-19 essential workers.
These disturbing incidents of racism, discrimination and xenophobia sadly arrive as Canadians celebrate Asian Heritage Month, which honours and uplifts the many achievements and contributions of Canadians of Asian descent to Canada.
CAMPAIGN CONDEMNS COVID-19-RELATED ACTS OF RACISM & DISCRIMINATION IN MANITOBA
Indeed, as community activist Jennifer Chen notes: “Many Asian-Canadians have been reporting an increased level of racism during COVID-19.” Continues Chen: “We are often seen as outsiders rather than an important part of the community. Many people are projecting their fear and anger towards Asian-Canadians and that has to stop.”
IPW’s campaign actions include:
Poster Campaign: Distributing campaign posters (available in English and French) across the province to businesses, organizations, schools, places of worship and highly visible spaces.
Resource Development: Development and distribution of information sheets for victims and witnesses to respond to racism and discrimination. These information sheets will be translated into the common languages spoken by victims, such as Mandarin and Tagalog.
Social Media Challenge: #EssentialinMB social media campaign highlighting newcomer/immigrant/refugee frontline workers as essential service providers re: Manitoba’s response to COVID-19.
Educational Events: Hosting virtual events — including a virtual café — to discuss COVID-19 and racism.
This campaign has been organized by members of IPW’s Civic Engagement and Inclusion Sector Table, alongside several community organizations, including: Social Planning Council of Winnipeg; Manitoba Association of Newcomer Serving Organizations; Pembina Valley Local Immigration Partnership; Ethnocultural Council of Manitoba-Stronger Together; Réseau en Immigration Francophone du Manitoba; Manitoba Association of Rights and Liberties; and CUPE Manitoba.
IPW’s campaign was inspired by, and developed in partnership with, the Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations’ Montreal-based campaign, “COVID-19 Does Not Discriminate. Neither Should You!”