What Ontario is Doing to Promote Asian Heritage Month and to Combat the Rising Anti-Asian Racism

May 27th, 2021


Health in Motion

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Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries Logo

We are excited to announce this episode of the OATA podcast- HEALTH IN MOTION chat with Ontario's Minister of Sport, Culture and Heritage, Lisa MacLeod joined by her two Parliamentary Assistants Vincent Ke and Billy Pang on what Ontario is doing to promote Asian Heritage Month and to combat the rising Anti-Asian racism. 

Drew: Welcome to the Health in Motion podcast, and it's wonderful to see you Lisa Anne MacLeod and to meet your two parliamentary assistants, Billy Pang and Vincent Ke. As we're aware of May is Asian Heritage Month, and we thought it was appropriate to have you share why and how your ministry is assuring Asian history and the contributions of Asian Ontarians have had and do contribute to the province, perhaps especially in sport and culture.


Lisa: Yeah, thanks very much. And I think that this is very important, particularly as we get our Olympic athletes ready to go to Tokyo. And I'm looking forward to meeting with them on Friday. And I also think it's important that we have this conversation as we know Asian hate and discrimination are increasing. And that's why I'm proud and pleased that both my parliamentary assistants, Billy Pang and Vincent Ke could join me today to talk about the work that we're doing within our ministry and our government to support our Asian community in the province of Ontario. 


Lisa: And I know Vincent will have a lot more to say because he has a private member's bill that has just been tabled. And of course, I think Billy would want to say something. But let me just assure you that both in sport and through our cultural industries and tourism, our ministry committed in a recent white paper that we would be very inclusive and diverse and support diversity, particularly with our community, so that programming is aligned. There is premier enforcement of Premier Ford has his Council on Equality and Opportunity. And then, of course, we have an anti-racism secretariat that just recently invested one point six million dollars into anti-hate and anti-racism initiatives. And so with that, maybe I'll hand it over to Vincent so we can speak a little bit about his private member's bill. And then Billy to speak a little bit more about this as well.


Vincent: Thank you, Minister. We know the anti-Asian racism is not new. It has been introduced in Canada's history. And but unfortunately, it is on the rise and it has reached the new highest during the pandemic. A recent report documented over 1150 racist incidents that happened across Canada and 40 percent happened in Ontario, and most of them women and children, vulnerable people and also elderly people. And that's unacceptable. That's bad. And it's a shame. 


Vincent: We just heard the news and read the newspaper, but it did happen to my friend the honourable senator who is from Singapore. He has been targeted, where two months ago when he went back to his apartment from the parliament building, he was intimidated and they said a racial slur. And that's really what we've seen are racism targets, individuals, all to specific groups. But really the harmful impact is on our society and how the culture will hit us all. So the diversity and and and multiculturalism is one of Canada's greatest strengths. And in turn, that made Canada one of the best countries today to immigrate. And we are very proud of up to be a Canadian. And that's also taught me twenty-three years ago made me decide to immigrate to Canada.  


Vincent: Before I came to Canada. I worked in Germany and I'm very happy to be here, to be a Canadian. And it's just amazing because, during the pandemic, the incidence is on the rise and our government is imprecise at any hate and crime is zero tolerance. And I believe that education is the key to tackle racism, with education we can change the perspective view public perspective on how Asian Canadians are viewed and treated. And that's why I tabled my private member's bill, Anti-Asian Racism Education last week because of Asian Heritage Month.


Vincent: People celebrate and contribute to the Asian Canadians, how they're really working hard and contribute to our economy and multiculturalism. We want to remind people when the Canadian Anti-Asian hate is still there. So we want to still work in and I believe with this bill if we have to build to foster the sense of belonging in Canada, in the Asian and Asian youth and their family and also that revered entity in the Asian community. So we really want to celebrate our different no fight each other. So together we will really acknowledge and address and eliminate the racism in our school, our community and overtime in Canada.

Lisa: Thank you, Vincent. And what about you, Billy? Would you like to add some words?

"Thank you, Minister. As I am a first-generation immigrant and have chosen to reside in Ontario, I can see racism, hate and discrimination in all or other forms have absolutely no place in our province. So writing off Markham-Unionville, writing that holds one of the province's largest Chinese Canadian population, I can say first hand that these hateful actions have quickly become a noticeable concern for me and many constituents across my writing. Our government is a very inclusive government that consists of caucus members from very diverse heritage faiths and backgrounds. Asian Canadians have helped build Ontario, and our contribution to this province deserves the same level of respect and recognition by the general public. To combat Anti-Asian racism change begins within our community with education as Vincent proposed, and public awareness, conversation and the events like today. Inclusion and respect are keys to success and standing against hate-motivated crimes to all of us, both as a government and as individuals" - Billy

Drew: Thank you very much.  The OATA believes in education as well, and that's the reason why we reached out for this opportunity to start with our membership and in bringing a greater awareness of this increasing problem that is going on. So, what do you think all Ontarians can and should be doing to address this alarming increase in anti-Asian racism that has emerged during this pandemic?

Lisa: I'll have my colleagues maybe address that, but I think one area where we can find reconciliation with indigenous peoples, with them, with the new Canadians, with our Jewish community, that all of them dealing right now with them with hate. We've seen recent examples in the last couple of weeks. I think that our diversity and inclusion with sport is a true path toward that. And I also believe that our culture industries, our creative sectors have a role to play there as well. And so we're going to continue to do that, to make sure everyone feels that we're inclusive. I, as the tourism minister, will often say, we're the world in one province. We are an amazing multicultural community, a mosaic of peoples from all different heritages. And we, by and large, most of the time live peacefully with one another and have respectful dialogues and disagreements. 


So I think that elevating the bar of debate and discussion and not be afraid of people continually looking toward education and continually encouraging our children to be colorblind and just to play with their neighbours and to engage in sports. I will say as a hockey mom, having Victoria on different teams with kids from different backgrounds has been a real pleasure in my life just to watch the kids play and not look at each other's colour of skin or linguistic background or whatever their race or religion is just to be teammates. And I think that sport has a real power there for that. Vincent and Billy can add to that. 


Listen to the rest on HEALTH IN MOTION  

About Vincent Ke

Vincent Ke is a Chinese Canadian politician who was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in the 2018 provincial election. He represents the riding of Don Valley North as a member of the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. Vincent was born in Quanzhou, Fujian, China, and immigrated to Canada in 1998.


He is also the current Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. In 2019, the National Post reported that Ke maintains close ties with the consulate of the People's Republic of China and groups linked to the Chinese Communist Party's United Front Work Department.

About Lisa Anne MacLeod

Lisa Anne MacLeod MPP is a Canadian politician serving as a Progressive Conservative member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Elected in a by-election in 2006, she represents the riding of Nepean and currently serves as the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. From 2018 to 2019, she served as Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services in Doug Ford's cabinet.


For her work Lisa has been awarded the Friendship Medal by the Royal Canadian Legion, a commendation by the St. John’s Ambulance and is the 2018 EVE Award Recipient from Equal Voice- for her work with Daughters of the Vote and liveable legislatures. Lisa was also named Top 50 and Top 25 in the Capital and in 2017 was named Faces Magazine’s Favourite Ottawa MPP.

About Billy Pang

Billy Pang is a first-generation Canadian, originally from Hong Kong. After arriving in Canada in 2000, Billy has worked, lived and studied in the Markham region.Prior to becoming the Member of Provincial Parliament in 2018 for Markham—Unionville, Mr. Pang was a York Region District School Board Trustee; where he was elected in 2014 to represent parents and students in the Markham area in Wards 2, 3 and 6.  


Since 2019 he has been also appointed as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries (Tourism).  His community involvement spans even further than his political experience as he has served the Markham community as a volunteer for various humanitarian organizations and schools in the city.

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