This May, please join the University of Toronto and Canadians across the country in celebrating Asian Heritage Month.
Asian Heritage Month received official recognition by the Government of Canada two decades ago, following years of “unofficial” celebration in communities nationwide. University of Toronto Chancellor Emerita Dr. Vivienne Poy, the first Canadian Senator of Asian ancestry, initiated this formal recognition by successfully proposing the motion in the Senate of Canada.
Asian Heritage Month encourages all Canadians to appreciate, experience, and learn about Asian culture and history. It urges widespread recognition of the vital contributions that individuals and communities of Asian descent have made to Canada and to Canadian society. These contributions pre-date Canada as a country—beginning well before the late 19th century, when more than 17,000 Chinese immigrants performed essential roles in building the Canadian Pacific Railway.
The University of Toronto celebrates and recognizes the contributions of Asian members of our community. These contributions positively impact our student communities; research and innovation; teaching and scholarship; our facilities and services; our administrative offices; and leadership across our three campuses. We also recognize the challenges that racism and discrimination continue to present to U of T students, staff, faculty, and librarians of Asian descent. This year, the website Fight COVID Racism, a platform dedicated to tracking and reporting anti-Asian racism and xenophobia in Canada, indicated that 943 self-reported and witness-reported incidents of anti-Asian racism and xenophobia occurred in Canada in 2021. These incidents occurred in every province and territory, and largely in public spaces. While East Asians reported nearly half of all incidents, South Asians experienced the most dramatic rise in reported incidents—an increase of 318 percent since 2020.
Anti-Asian racism also exists at the University of Toronto, within the systems that guide our policies and practices, and, at times, in how we relate to each other. This month, we will be announcing an initiative to advance our community’s commitment to addressing these forms of anti-Asian racism, and the steps we will take to remain accountable for making positive change. As part of Asian Heritage Month, the Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office is also offering sessions on May 17 and 19 that will address the impacts of anti-Asian racism and discrimination and support opportunities to engage with restorative practices. On May 27, ARCDO will host a workshop to deepen understanding of the manifestations of anti-Asian racism and how we can address these on our campuses. Details are below and on the ARCDO website.
I strongly encourage all students, faculty, librarians, and staff to explore ARCDO’s programming and to seek out additional programming honouring Asian Heritage Month across our three campuses. Learning more about each other, our histories, and our stories is a powerful tool to create safe and supportive working and learning environments for everyone in our community.
(a) Session for Faculty, Librarians, Staff, and Students who identify as members of the Asian community
Tuesday, May 17, 2022
11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
(b) Session for Faculty, Librarians, Staff, and Students who identify as members of the Asian community and Allies
Thursday, May 19, 2022
12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
In collaboration with the Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Centre, the Anti-Racism & Cultural Diversity Office is hosting two curated spaces of restoration and art for faculty, staff, and students at the University of Toronto who identify as members of the Asian community. No art experience is necessary.
Friday, May 27, 2022
10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
This educational workshop led by Maria Lo (Training Coordinator, Hong Fook Mental Health Association) will offer faculty, staff, and students an opportunity to learn more deeply about anti-Asian racism and how it manifests in post-secondary environments.