Original Open Letter

The Chinese Christian Mission (CCM) of Canada is very concerned of the unusual rise of racist incidents and hate crimes in communities across our country under the unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the severe storm of COVID-19, Canadians of Asian descent and some Iranians are being socially stigmatized. When a federal MP openly questioned the loyalty of Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer who is Chinese whether she works for China or for Canada in Parliament something is not right in this speech. When popular Chinese and Vietnamese gathering places and Asian ethnic stores are targeted and vandalized during COVID-19 closure something is wrong in our community. When many Asian Canadians or other visible minority, including some medical and health professional or essential service workers who risk their safety daily to combat COVID-19 have to tolerate racial slurs in the street, harassment, unjustified accusations of importing the virus or disdainful look by others for wearing a face mask in daily encounters something is badly broken within our society. When certain ethnic persons who are physically weak or in vulnerable situation are met by viscous violence or assault because of their ethnicity – a Korean male stabbed on Décarie Boulevard, Montreal weekend before last, an Asian young man sustained a broken arm by three attackers in defense of his girl friend being physically abused in downtown Toronto, a mother with a special need child being abruptly stopped by a car at crosswalk by a female driver who jumped off to ripe-off her face mask, and a senior 92 years old with dementia thrown out of a convenience store to the ground in Vancouver last week, this is utterly despicable, immoral and totally unacceptable.

The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus and the “politicalization” and stress of the COVID-19 impacts that follow at the global, international, government, society and social media levels has since unleashed an extraordinary spell of emotional anxiety, objectionable narratives, hurtful comments, arguments, fake news, racial prejudices and offensive behaviors influencing people worldwide and likewise in our communities. We abhor people, regardless of race and ethnicity, who are hoarding and reselling essential goods or price gouging; who are self-centered and not being considerate of other’s and own personal safety and violating social distancing or self-isolation or quarantine order; who keep spreading untrue information about COVID-19, posting twisted commentaries and mislead other; who exploit the COVID-19 crisis and its health, social security and economic impacts to find scapegoats, finger-pointing opponents, incinerate racial tension and further one’s political, racist or ulterior international agendas. They have to be stopped.

The collective failure to hold up our resolve to overcome racism in time of crisis has seriously damaged our long-standing Canadian values of multiculturalism, respecting diversity, preserving civility of social tolerance and racial harmony. The racially motivated incidents happened recently in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal disgrace all of us, destruct and divide us as a country and a community, especially at this time when we should be helping, caring and supporting each other with compassion, empathy, generosity and self-sacrifice to get through this common crisis and hardship together.

We believe the federal, provincial and municipal governments will be doing the best they can in taking us through the immense challenges and uncertainties of COVID-19. Nonetheless, as Canadian citizens, we also have a shared responsibility in a civil society to help each other out at the personal level during this difficult time. We understand that people are getting anxious, stressed, frustrated and worried about one’s health, safety, job, finances and future livelihood and their family during this pandemic, but we encourage those who are more blessed and have the capacity to help to try to redirect the negative energy to a positive and constructive way like some of our fellow citizens are already doing in the community. We may not all be surviving or sheltering in the same boat during this treacherous time but we are definitely in the same storm. Those whose ships are not wrecked can still navigate to help, throwing a life saver or extending a helping hand to those on a battered vessel.

At CCM Canada, we have organized teams of volunteers in our offices across the country dedicating their effort in sharing the Christian love to others in the community. We have launched a COVID-19 pandemic emotional support hotline service nation-wide. We have recruited hundreds of volunteers delivering groceries to isolated seniors, making and giving away 15,000 cloth face masks and other essential items to vulnerable or disadvantaged groups in our communities and working with service partners to help the homeless in Vancouver Downtown Eastside (DTES).

We appeal to the Canadian communities at this time to stay united, not divided; to spread love, empathy and care but not hate, frustration or anxiety. Refrain from stigmatization of any ethnic population in the country; people are not viruses. There is no worse community outbreak than the outbreak of racial prejudices and hate crimes. It is contagious and can spread like wildfire like COVID-19 and everybody can be infected by it indiscriminately in the end. We advocate for more community dialogue to enhance mutual understanding, social tolerance and acceptance. We ask our political and community leaders to set a good example in addressing the issue.

Unlike COVID-19, we Canadians have the basic immunity given by the long-established national value of multiculturalism and the history of our predecessors when they immigrated to this country and started to learn living with different peoples. One antidote passed down by our Chinese immigrant forefathers to fight racism in Canada in their darkest moment is the giving of unreserved love, self-sacrifice for this country and service to our fellow man. Take this vaccine at the time when we need it.

Thomas Tam, Executive Director
Chinese Christian Mission (CCM) of Canada
Mobile: 604-808-6812
April 27, 2020

The Chinese Christian Mission (CCM) Canada is a non-profit Christian organization whose purpose is to reach the world with Christian love and to encourage community care and support through education, training, services and advocacy. For forty years, CCM engages and draws on the support of local church communities, focuses on caring for and serving the vulnerable, initiates urban and rural small town ministries in Canada and participates in missionary projects overseas. It has offices and service centers in Metro Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Greater Toronto and Montreal.

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