Stand up against anti-Asian racism!

To: All PIPSC Members at Environment & Climate Change Canada & Impact Assessment Agency of Canada

Dear colleagues and friends,

The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on March 21, the day the police in Sharpeville, South Africa, opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration against apartheid "pass laws" in 1960. By proclaiming the International Day in 1966, the United Nations General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination (resolution 2142 (XXI)).

Since then, the apartheid system in South Africa has been dismantled. Racist laws and practices have been abolished in many countries, and we have built an international framework for fighting racism, guided by the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Still, too many individuals, communities and societies continue to suffer from the injustice and stigma brought by discrimination, hate, and human rights violations, simply because of the colour of their skin, their ethnic background, or their faith. The monster of racism has permeated our society and public institutions, and raises its ugly head from time to time, choosing different vulnerable victims.

A majority of Canadians recognize the menace of racism, and are increasingly speaking about it. An Ipsos poll conducted in July 2020 for Global News found that 60% of respondents believed that racism is a serious problem in Canada, up from 47% in 2019. 28% of respondents said they’ve been a victim of racism, which is up five points from last year. Kathy Hogarth, Associate Professor from the University of Waterloo’s school of social work, said this is because Canadians have greater “permission” to talk about racism in the public sphere now. “This is a new brand of racism - anti-Asian,” Hogarth said. “This is a direct result of COVID. We have had the pandemic that has given a different brand to racism — before it was anti-Muslim racism.”

The indiscriminate shooting at a Quebec City Mosque that left six worshippers dead and five seriously wounded was the most serious among a series of attacks on places of worship, and woke up Canadians to the seriousness of Islamophobia. The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for over 8 minutes sparked widespread protests across Canada against police brutality and anti-Black racism.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes against Asian-Canadians have been on the rise with several major cities seeing crime rates that are six and seven hundred percent higher than the previous year. According to live data from Fight COVID Racism, there have been 969 reported incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes across Canada. 

As we reported to you last year, Statistics Canada said that the proportion of visible minorities who experienced an increase in harassment or attacks based on their race, ethnicity, or skin colour has tripled compared to the rest of the population since the start of the pandemic, with the largest increase among Chinese, Korean, and Southeast Asian individuals. The most recent shootings in Atlanta, Georgia, that resulted in the apparent targeted killing of eight women, including six women of Asian origin, have shaken the Asian community in Canada and the U.S. We stand in solidarity with all colleagues and friends of Asian origin during these difficult times.

Please do not hesitate to use departmental resources, including the Employee Assistance Program, which is available to all employees free of charge.

Let’s stand up against racial prejudice and intolerant attitudes every day, wherever we are. Stand up for human rights!

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions, suggestions or comments.

Stay safe, stay well!


Waheed Khan

President, National Consultation Team