Chinese people in Canada are experiencing racism over fears that they are carrying the deadly coronavirus.
When Toronto resident Terri Chu tweeted that she and other Chinese mothers feared the “inevitable wave of racism” that would accompany the spread of coronavirus around the world, she didn’t realize how visceral the reactions would be.
“My Twitter has just exploded with vitriol since this morning,” she said. “But it’s just par for the course, growing up as a minority when you’re not part of a dominant class.”
Canada has so far seen three confirmed cases of the virus, which originated in China, but members of the country’s Chinese community have already become the target of racism.
The country saw a similar wave of xenophobia during 2003 Sars outbreak, which also started in China.
During that panic, many Chinese-run businesses in Canada took steep losses as fear overrode public health advice. Toronto lost hundreds of millions of dollars as residents and tourists avoided the city, especially areas with a high concentration of Chinese businesses.
The irrational public worry that paralyzed much of the city seems to be returning, said Amy Go, the interim president of the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice.
“I was hopeful it wasn’t going to be like 2003. But it’s is. It’s happening now and it’s just going to be amplified by social media.”
When a popular Toronto blog, reviewed a new Chinese restaurant on Instagram on Monday, the post quickly received a torrent of racist comments.
And nearly 9,000 parents in the York school district – an area north of Toronto – signed a petition demanding students who had travelled to China in the last 17 days be prevented from attending school.