OPINION: Call for kindness is a powerful message

Last week, B.C.’s minister responsible for multiculturalism spoke out on the rising number of hate crimes toward people of Asian heritage during the COVID-19 pandemic – particularly within the city of Vancouver.

Anne Kang said she is deeply saddened by the recent rise in physical and verbal attacks, as well as an increase in vandalism.

“I cannot remain silent. As someone who moved to Canada from Taiwan, I am outraged that anyone would engage in acts of discrimination, hate or violence,” she said.“I am compelled as a government representative, immigrant and British Columbian to speak out against these vicious acts.”

It is indeed troubling.

Since the beginning of April, the Vancouver police have seen a spike in the number of reporter hate-related crimes targeting those of Asian background. Eleven incidents occurred last month, compared with 12 for all of 2019.

Here in Parksville, the owners of a downtown business hit twice by vandalism believe they may have been targeted because they are Asian.

READ MORE: Parksville business vandalized twice within days

The first incident took place May 13, when the window pane of the door to the the business (closed due to COVID-19 restrictions) was smashed. At that time, they believed it was just a random act of vandalism, The windows were replaced immediately with insurance covering the cost.

Two days later the same window pane was again smashed. That has left the owners, immigrants from South Korea and Vietnam, respectively, feeling disappointed and seriously concerned.

Police officials said there is no indication this was a hate crime and/or racially motivated but it has not been discounted as a possibility.

“We’re not going to discount it or say that it’s not that, but we can’t say it is that either,” said Cpl. Jesse Foreman. “We have no indication of anything beyond simple mischief.”

The vandalism itself is embarrassing. Having to hope it was simply the work of random yahoos is bad enough. If there were any racial undertones, that’s especially despicable.

In her statement, Kang called for kindness.

“Chinese Canadians have deep roots in this province,” she continued. “Over many generations, Chinese Canadians have worked alongside all British Columbians to build the vibrant, multicultural society we enjoy today.”

Kang also called on victims or witnesses to report hate crimes to police and urges all B.C. residents to “stand together and condemn these actions that seek to divide.”

That call for kindness should not go unheeded.

We’ve seen increasing vitriol in our online story comments as well, and that’s not acceptable.

As we all attempt to return to a sense of post-COVID normalcy, togetherness is key.

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