Ontario tackles anti-Asian hate with classroom initiatives

Elementary school students. (© Can Stock Photo / oksun70)

The Ontario government is putting $340,000 behind new initiatives to combat anti-Asian racism in schools.

Between March 2020 and last February, there were 1,150 cases where Asian-Canadians were attacked because of their ethnicity. Ontario accounted for 40 per cent of those incidents nationwide, and in many of the attacks, children and the elderly were targeted.

“Racism and discrimination have no place in our schools, and our government is acting to protect students and promote inclusivity for all children,” said Education Minister Stephen Lecce. “Hate crimes have sharply and disturbingly risen against Asian-Canadians.”

The money will flow through the Safe Return to Class fund. About $140,000 will go to the Hong Fook Mental Health Association. It provides counselling and workshops in Mandarin, Cantonese, and English.

“Too many Asian youth are struggling to access mental health and addictions care,” said Bonnie Wong with the Hong Fook Mental Health Association. “Struggling with mental health and ongoing anti-Asian hate, these youth need our support.”

Another $50,000 will be invested with the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice to develop online resources and tools for Chinese-Canadian households with children in grades 3 to 5. The Asian-Canadian Educators Network will receive $10,000 for workshops about anti-Asian racism for schools and school boards, and $140,000 will go to Community Family Services of Ontario to address pandemic-related risks faced by newcomers and East Asian families.

May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada, and this year’s theme is ‘Recognition, Resilience, and Resolve.’ A total of 150 initiatives will focus on math skills, access to mental health supports, anti-racism and support for children with disabilities.