Yet another anti-Asian incident took place in Vancouver this week. However, an artist-based initiative has also arisen to help strengthen local Chinese Canadian communities in the face of both the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and discrimination.
On May 19, two lion sculptures at the Millennium Gate located at the entrance to Chinatown were found defaced with graffiti that expressed anti-Asian sentiments in connection with COVID-19.
The City of Vancouver, which condemned the act, explained that after solvent was used to remove the graffiti, parts of the lions were covered with duct tape to hold the solvent in place. The duct tape was expected to be removed today (May 21).
CBC News reported that the City of Vancouver is providing the Chinatown Business Association with funding for extra security services during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Makers Artists United has launched a collaborative fundraising project to bolster Chinatown during this tumultuous period.
Solidarity Forever aims to raise $8,000 for Chinatown businesses and frontline organizations, including the B.C. Artscape Sun Wah Arts and Culture Support Fund, BLIM, the Treasure Green Tea Company, and the Yarrow intergenerational Society.
The red cotton bags feature a design of an elder riding a dragon, created by recent Emily Carr University of Art and Design (ECUAD) grad Stella Zheng. The design references traditional symbols for strength, good luck, perseverance, and hard work.
The bags can be purchased online for $50. (All net proceeds go to the aforementioned businesses and organizations.) Each purchase offers the chance to win one of 40 gift cards worth $50 from BLIM or Treasure Green Tea Company.
“Our idea behind this illustration was to demonstrate the tenacity and willpower in the community of Chinatown to push through the confusing and tumultuous times we are experiencing currently,” Zhang explained in an article on the ECUAD alumni website.
She cited the vandalism of the Chinese Cultural Centre in April, where she attended Mandarin language classes. Dancer Ziyian Kwan staged a peaceful protest against the vandalism while supporting Asian Heritage Month with a dance performance at the centre on May 11.
Although she is a first generation Canadian, she also stated that it is important to remember how local racism has origins in policies and events, such as the Chinese Head Tax and the 1907 Vancouver Riots against Asian citizens.
A number of verbal and physical attacks on Asian people and acts of vandalism have been taking place in the Lower Mainland, including one on an Indigenous woman who was mistaken for being Asian.
Several awareness campaigns to counter the discrimination have been launched, including the Vancouver Asian Film Festival’s Elimin8hate and the #HealthNotHate public-service announcements.
In addition to Asian Canadian and American screen stars speaking out about it, local politicians have been calling on all citizens to help counter the discrimination.