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Combatting the rise of racism as a community

Join the Ryerson community in addressing anti-Asian racism through dialogue, action
By: Michelle Grady
April 13, 2021
A group with masks on marches in protest with signs that say “stop Asian hate.”

On April 20, the Ryerson community is invited to attend Combatting Anti-Asian Racism, an informational session that will feature speakers from across campus. The event will share experiences and equip the community to support people impacted by racism through support and reporting.

Canada has reached a crisis point, say advocacy groups and human rights experts, as a PDF filenew report, external link released by the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter looks at more than 1,100 cases of anti-Asian racist attacks reported through Fight COVID Racism , external linkand Elimin8hate, external link.

To respond to this alarming data, the entire Ryerson community is invited to attend Combatting Anti-Asian Racism, an informational session on April 20, 12-1:30 p.m., organized by the Office of the General Counsel, Office of the Vice President, Equity and Community Inclusion, Faculty of Arts and Human Resources.

Speakers include Janice Fukakusa, chancellor; Julia Shin Doi, general counsel, secretary of the Board of Governors and university privacy officer; Denise O’Neil Green, vice-president equity and community inclusion; Pamela Sugiman, dean, Faculty of Arts; Amy Go, Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice; Remi Warner, director, Human Rights Services; and Jean Tsai, counsellor and co-coordinator of the Centre for Student Development and Counselling (CSDC). The session will be moderated by Anver Saloojee, a professor in politics and public administration.

“It's important that we deal with these issues now before we come back to campus because there is fear and concern. We want to prepare, educate and assist the community in dealing with issues of discrimination and harassment,” says Julia Shin Doi. “It’s especially important to come together while working virtually to reinforce our community connection. This event will be a forum to share experiences and equip individuals with tools on how to support victims, how to identify incidents, and how to encourage reporting of these incidents.”

The pandemic has been cited as a root cause of the rise in racism, with misinformation circulating around the virus’ origins and fear and confusion leading some to resort to polarized ways of thinking.

Jean Tsai says students are seeking support at this time and are reporting an increased sense of hypervigilance, both for themselves as well as for their family members and community elders. “Students are also becoming more aware of and navigating the impacts of past experiences of harm and trauma.” 

In her role as vice-president equity and community inclusion, Denise O’Neil Green said, “As a leader in equity, diversity and inclusion, Ryerson University cannot be complacent. We call on our community...to take action towards addressing the roots of white supremacy that disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous, Asian and other racialized communities.”

This event will be such an opportunity, to hear about our community’s lived experiences and participate in discussion around actions ahead.

Both Shin Doi and Tsai say the pandemic has given us some time to reflect on racism in our society. “There’s more space for folks to be able to show up and support and build community, that might not be as possible in other times,” says Tsai.

Pamela Sugiman, who will speak at the event, says that the entire Ryerson community has a responsibility to educate themselves on the issue of racism and place these recent events in a larger context. “Right now, we have an opportunity to have more dialogue on racism generally. I see this as part of a larger conversation about anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism too. And for those who don't identify as Asian-Canadians, the conversation is also important. I've done a lot of research on bystanders to racism, and there’s a level of accountability with them as well. Allyship is extremely valuable.”

“I hope the session offers a space for our community members to bear witness not only to the hardships endured by communities of colour, but also to the remarkable resilience,” says Tsai. “Beyond taking a stance against violence and harm, I hope our community can be moved to co-create conditions that make it hard for violence to exist."

Combatting Anti-Asian Racism will take place on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 at 12 to 1:30 p.m. To attend the Zoom session, visit the Ryerson Today event page.

Ryerson community members are encouraged to review the Responding to Hate toolkit developed by prominent Asian Canadian leaders in collaboration with Ryerson.

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