Combating Anti-Asian Racism and Xenophobia: Toward Pandemic Anti-Racism Education in Post-COVID-19 Canada

As part of MET’s Anti-Racism Speaker Series

October 24, 2023 | 4:30-5:30pm PT

Canada is often held up internationally as a successful model of immigration and multiculturalism. Yet, this successful record has not gone unchallenged during COVID-19 when its racial and ethnic conflict and division resurfaces. Since the outbreak of the global pandemic, there was a surge in anti-Asian racism and xenophobia across the country toward people of Asian descent, particularly those from China. Using critical discourse analysis, this presentation critically analyses incidents against Chinese Canadians who were reported in popular press during the pandemic pertaining to anti-Asian and anti-Chinese racism and xenophobia in Canada. To combat and eliminate racism, I propose a framework of pandemic anti-racism education for the purpose of achieving social justice in post-COVID-19 Canada.

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About Dr. Shibao Guo

Dr. Shibao Guo is Professor at the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada. He is also Honorary Professor of the University of Nottingham. Over the past twenty years as a transnational academic and scholar, Prof. Guo has developed research expertise in the areas of transnational migration, Chinese diasporas studies, ethnic and race relations, internationalisation of higher education, and comparative and international education. Prof. Guo’s research has been funded by a number of organisations, including the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada; Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada; Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada; International Organisation for Migration; and Education International.

He has numerous publications including books, journal articles, and book chapters. His books include: Reimagining Chinese diasporas in a transnational world (2023, Routledge), Decolonising lifelong learning in the context of transnational migration (with S. Maitra, Routledge, 2020), Immigration, racial and ethnic studies in 150 years of Canada: Retrospects and prospects (Brill|Sense, 2018). He is former president of Canadian Ethnic Studies Association (CESA) and the Comparative and International Education Society of Canada (CIESC). Currently he is co-editor of Canadian Ethnic Studies and two book series for Brill|Sense Publishers: Transnational Migration and Education and Spotlight on China.

Anti-Asian Racism Resources

In this section, the Master of Educational Technology Program is proud to introduce a range of resources to address the issue of anti-Asian racism with a strong emphasis on promoting sensitivity and cultural awareness in our rapidly evolving digital world. In acknowledging the historical and systemic racism, as well as the pervasive stereotypes and wrongdoings faced by Asian communities in Canada, we aim to foster a supportive and inclusive environment that is attuned to these complex dynamics. Recognizing the surge in anti-Asian sentiment exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic in recent years, we are committed to providing a platform for education, dialogue, and proactive measures to combat discrimination and xenophobia and cultivate inclusivity and educational advancement. Our initiative encourages dialogue and dedicated actions in order to create a safe space where diverse voices are heard and respected, ultimately fostering solidarity and allyship.

We are committed to promoting equity, compassion and respect while nurturing a program culture that celebrates diversity. These resources have been developed with the aim of enhancing understanding, reducing epistemic violence, and challenging power dynamics and discriminatory structures. Our goal is to stimulate an environment that prioritizes understanding and inclusivity in educational technology while actively working towards dismantling racist structures and dynamics within our systems. MET urges all students, alumni, staff, and faculty to approach their work by considering the choices they are making and the way they use these resources with sensitivity and adaptability in mind. By embracing the First Peoples Principles of Learning we advocate for a responsive approach that fosters an inclusive environment, for everyone involved.

This document, which can be printed and used as a bookmark, consists of a number of questions that help guide professional practices, particularly educational pedagogy as a means to ensure such practices are culturally sensitive, appropriate, responsive, and immersive. As such, these questions are to be used as a guide when creating content, and activities, curating and utilizing resources, and sharing information.

View the bookmark.

Guiding Questions for Consideration when watching this video with Dr. Cary Wu

  1. What is the origin of Asian racism in Canada and how has it influenced today's socio-political environment?
  2. How has the increase in attitudes towards certain Asian communities during the Covid-19 pandemic worsened existing discrimination and what steps can be taken to effectively address this issue?
  3. What are the institutional structures and systems that contribute to the persistence of Asian racism, in Canada?
  4. How might educational technology tools be leveraged to dismantle discriminatory practices?
  5. What is the impact of anti-Asian racism on the mental health and well-being of individuals within Asian-Canadian communities?
  6. What support structures and strategies can be put in place by educational institutions to combat the rising mental health issues in Asian-Canadian communities?
  7. What role can educational technology play in promoting intercultural understanding and inclusivity to effectively combat anti-Asian racism?
  8. What steps can be taken to ensure that the curriculum and pedagogy are culturally responsive and sensitive to the experiences of Asian communities?
  9. How might the First Peoples Principles of Learning be utilized as a framework to create a more inclusive learning environment, while addressing both anti-Asian racism and broader systemic issues?

The Asian Pacific Foundation of Canada has curated and created a plethora of resources with the goal of combating Anti-Asian Racism and helping Canadians learn about Asian descent and the wrong-doings experienced by Asian Canadians throughout history.

The Department of Asian Studies at UBC has an incredible assortment of resources including new stories, opinion pieces, and scholarly articles that highlight race in Asian or Asian diaspora communities.

Silk Road Cultural Diplomacy Project (aimed at promoting cultural understanding and diversity with a specific focus on the historical significance of the Silk Road Countries of Central Asian communities)

Central Asian Studies Association (CASA)

Global Centre for Pluralism (emphasizes the importance of fostering respect and diversity while combating discrimination- not solely focused on Central Asia but includes resources and educational materials promoting an understanding and appreciation of cultures including those of Silk Road Countries)

Creating inclusive and culturally sensitive learning environments is imperative in addressing issues related to systemic racism and oppression. Educating students about the experiences and challenges faced by marginalized communities including Asian Canadians, is an important step towards fostering empathy and supporting critical change. Below are a list of activities that can help to promote this change.

Note: it is important to consistently assess the inherent biases that you bring to the learning experience and the impact these activities have on student learning and engagement. Seeking feedback from the Asian-Canadian community members to ensure that these initiatives are respectful, accurate, and appropriate is necessary.

  1. Storytelling and Literature
    Introduce literature and authentic first-person stories (see the list of resources above) that highlight the experiences of Asian Canadians, including narratives of immigration, cultural identity, challenges, successes, and the impact the Asian community has had on Canadian history and current Canadian culture, policy, social, and economic realms.

  3. Historical Analysis
    Historically, Canadian history of Asian immigration and involvement has been taught from a very colonialist viewpoint and as such, suffered the dangers of the single story. Instead, you might consider presenting the history of Asian Canadians, including the challenges they faced during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the discrimination policies they encountered (i.e., Chinese Head Tax and the Exclusion Act) by providing opportunities to hear first-person accounts and utilize primary resources designed with Asian community representation of these events in times in history.

    Have students analyze the impact these historical events had on the Asian Canadian community and discuss the ongoing implications of these policies in contemporary society.

    Students can also conduct a curriculum jam using the Canadian Encyclopedia with a specific directive being on Asian Canadian events and involvement in Canadian History. Have students examine the history and identify of Asian Canadians' involvement in history and consider from whose perspective this history was written. How might it be re-written?


  5. Intersectionality and Identity
    It is important for students to create intersectional understandings through the exploration of the intersection between race and identity. It is recommended at all age levels to facilitate inclusive discussions on the intersectionality of race, gender, and other identities within the Asian Canadian community, highlighting the unique challenges faced by individuals at these intersections (see Kimberlé Crawford). Students should critically reflect on their own identities and privileges and connect these with the intersectional experience for Asian Canadians.

  7. Media Representation and Stereotypes- Cultural Jamming
    In this lesson(s) students can analyze the way in which Asian-Canadians are portrayed in the media through the examination of stereotypes, biases, and their impact on public perceptions with a directive being on Asian Canadians' past and ongoing contributions to society. Students can create a cultural jam and create their own media projects to showcase the authentic and diverse experiences, events and individualized intersectional personas of Asian Canadians.

  9. Allyship and Solidarity Opportunities
    Including students in the process of building collaborative partnerships of allyship and solidarity with Canadian communities including Asian Canadian communities is a means of combating racism and discrimination. Brainstorm with students, ways to create actionable steps toward becoming active allies (within and between) Asian Canadian communities both within their school and in the larger local, provincial, and national community. In a harmonious partnership, Asian Canadian students and their non-Asian Canadian peers are encouraged to collaborate to create innovative approaches for sharing teachings, cultures, languages, and traditions to foster strong partnerships.

    If you have ideas or lessons to share that help to address systemic racism and oppression in Asian-Canadian communities for the purpose of enacting change, please share them in this Padlet.