May is Asian Heritage Month

May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada. Asian Heritage Month has been celebrated since the 1990s and celebrates the immense contribution of people of Asian heritage to national history, culture and civic life.An elderly Asian man sits at a crosswalk in Toronto’s Chinatown

Beginning in the 18th century, people of Asian heritage helped build Canada’s railways and worked in lumber, mining and agriculture, and later in health and other care professions. Asians from a wide variety of ethnic origins have built and enriched this country. 

Anti-Asian racism in Canada dates back just as far. In the late 1800s, Chinese workers in Canada were prohibited from joining unions. In the early 1900s, Canadian immigration laws were changed to prevent East and South Asian workers from entering the country.

Anti-Asian racism persists to this day. In fact, the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and violence in the last five years has been striking. Between 2019 and 2020, the number of police-reported hate crimes against the East or Southeast Asian population increased by 301 per cent, and reported incidents of violence against the South Asian population increased by 47 per cent.

This year during Asian Heritage Month, the JLP encourages Canadians to learn about how Canadians of Asian heritage have and continue to help shape this country.


Photo by Anuraag Rajasekhar on Unslpash