Asian Heritage Month: Celebrating Contributions of Asian Communities and Addressing Anti-Asian Racism in Canada

News release

OTTAWA, May 31, 2021

Every May since 2002, the Government of Canada officially celebrates Asian Heritage Month, where we recognize the many communities of Asian descent that make invaluable contributions to all aspects of the society, economy, and culture in Canada.

This year’s virtual events celebrated these contributions and the rich diversity of cultures of Asian descent. The events also acknowledged the resilience and strength of Asian communities in our fight against anti-Asian racism and discrimination.

Throughout the month of May, the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, took part in 18 virtual events with members of numerous Asian communities across Canada. Some of the events included:

  • The Asian Heritage Month Festival hosted by the Canadian Foundation for Asian Culture (Central Ontario) Inc.
  • Roundtable with stakeholders from Quebec’s Asian communities
  • A.I.P.E.O. Canada’s Asian Heritage Month Closing Ceremonies
  • Yellowknife Chinese Association
  • Manitoba’s FascinAsian Film Festival
  • Let’s Talk Webinar hosted by Act2EndRacism
  • Asian Golden Ribbon Day East Asian Youth Summit
  • Malayali Association of Social Workers in Ontario’s (MASWO) AHM Celebration

Minister Chagger was also one of several speakers in a series of Asian Heritage Month virtual roundtables hosted by the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat. The discussions highlighted the issues and experiences that peoples of Asian descent face in Canada. Titled Combating Anti-Asian Racism: Awareness, Attitudes & Action, the roundtables brought together individuals from Asian and racialized communities, as well as Indigenous peoples, including philanthropic, business, healthcare, and civil society leaders. They discuss their intersectional visions, strategies, and actions in combating all forms of anti-Asian racism in Canada.

On May 30, the Government of Canada held a national virtual celebration to close Asian Heritage Month. Produced by the National Film Board, in partnership with the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat, the event recognized the achievements and contributions of people of Asian descent in Canada. Hosted by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Tova Roy, the event featured community leaders, talented artists, tributes, and interviews with influential Canadians of Asian descent from across the country. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau took part in the event, along with Minister Chagger, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, the Honourable Vivienne Poy, the first Canadian of Asian descent appointed to the Senate, and Member of Parliament Jagmeet Singh, the first Canadian of Asian descent to lead a federal opposition party.

As Asian Heritage Month wraps up, our government resolves to continue working with Asian communities in denouncing all forms of racism and discrimination. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a devastating increase in anti-Asian racism and hate. As an important step in continuing to address this issue, the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat has consulted with a wide range of Asian community leaders to develop an official definition of anti-Asian racism, which will be added to Building a Foundation for Change: Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy (2019-2022).

Together, we are united in working for a better, safer, and consciously more inclusive Canada for everyone.

Quotes

“While Asian Heritage Month 2021 has wrapped up, this year’s theme, Recognition, Resilience, and Resolve, continues to resonate. As we move forward, we will continue to recognize the contributions and rich diversity of Asian communities. We can find strength in their resilience, and will move forward in our resolve to do better. We remain committed to standing together against xenophobia, fear, hatred, and all forms of racism and discrimination, including anti-Asian racism, so we can build a consciously more inclusive Canada for everyone.”

—The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth

“Racism and intolerance go directly against our country’s greatest strength. Our diversity is what makes our communities strong and our businesses successful at home and abroad. This month and every month, I ask all Canadians to stand with us, learn about Asian Canadian history, recognize the contributions of Canadians of Asian descent past and present, and together take action against anti-Asian racism.”

—The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade

Quick facts

  • In May 2002, the Government of Canada declared May as Asian Heritage Month after the adoption of a motion by Senator Vivienne Poy.

  • Budget 2021 provides further support to empower racialized Canadians, help community groups combat racism in all its forms, improve understanding of racial inequities and barriers, and build a more diverse and inclusive federal public service.

  • In the Fall Economic Statement 2020, the Government of Canada announced an additional $50 million over two years for the Community Support, Multicultural and Anti-Racism Initiatives, the Anti-Racism Action Program, and the Federal Anti-Racism Secretariat.

  • The Community Support, Multiculturalism, and Anti-Racism Initiatives Program supports projects, community capacity building, and events that are outcome-based and focused on racism as well as discrimination on a local, regional, and national level.

  • In October 2020, Minister Chagger announced $15 million in support for 85 anti-racism projects across the country through the Anti-Racism Action Program, which addresses barriers to employment, justice, and social participation among Indigenous peoples, racialized communities, and religious minorities.

  • Budget 2021 devoted $11 million over two years, for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, starting in 2021-22. This investment would allow the foundation to expand its efforts to empower racialized communities and community groups, facilitate initiatives like the establishment of a national coalition to support Asian Canadian communities and create a fund to support all racialized communities directly affected by increasing acts of racism.

  • The Digital Citizen Contribution Program provides time-limited financial assistance (fiscal year 2021-22) as high as $100,000 for research projects aimed at supporting democracy and social cohesion in Canada by enhancing and supporting efforts to counter online disinformation and other online harms and threats.

  • Today, the Government of Canada has committed to adding the definition of anti-Asian racism to Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy 2019-2022.

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Contacts

For more information (media only), please contact:

Emelyana Titarenko
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth
emelyana.titarenko@canada.ca

Media Relations
Canadian Heritage
819-994-9101
1-866-569-6155
pch.media-media.pch@canada.ca

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