In light of the recent attack in Georgia which led to the deaths of six women of Asian descent, the Atlantic Canadian Asian community is speaking up about their experiences of racism in Fredericton.
Khanh Do, a Political Science and Economics student at St. Thomas University, is originally from Saigon and has been in Fredericton for three years. Do explained that she has experienced anti-Asian racism during her time in Fredericton, and explained that it is a daily problem for newcomers and people of asian descent.
“I can’t remember the first time I experienced [anti-Asian racism], but I would say it happens more than often in my everyday life,” Do said. “Many people I've interacted with in Fredericton make comments about my background or subliminally invalidate my identity.”
Do expressed that, similar to other newcomers, she found her first year in Fredericton to be the most challenging.
“We all shared the same experience that our first year in Fredericton was certainly the hardest,” said Do. “Some Asians I know are afraid of going outside due to discriminations/unfriendly looks from others in public.”
In addition to her studies, Do is the founder and CEO of Azusa Studio, a clothing brand that she started during the pandemic. Do feels that she needs to work hard to prove herself while studying, operating her small business, and working in other fields.
“I feel like I have to constantly prove my performance by overworking, as I still receive backhanded compliments that indicate that my work ethic and intelligence is because I'm Asian, not because I've worked for it,” explained Do.
Do feels that COVID-19 has had increasingly negative effects on the treatment of the Atlantic Canadian Asian community, starting from the very beginning of the pandemic.
“Back to the beginning of March 2020, a few days before lockdown, my Asian friend on campus was made fun of for wearing a mask,” said Do, explaining that her friend was being made fun of for following COVID-19 restrictions and taking the necessary precautions.
On March 24 the UNB Student Union released a statement on anti-Asian violence, stating that they stand in “grief and solidarity” with the Asian community against racial violence.
“The UNBSU is committed to combating systemic racism and supporting students of visible minorities,” read the statement.
The Student Union listed immediate actions that they would be taking to address anti-Asian racism, including offering safe spaces, supporting Asian-led projects, releasing a Breaking Stereotypes video about microaggressions, and updating the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Action Plan to better address anti-Asian racism.
Khaleem Shaik, a third-year UNB student working towards a Bachelor of Business Administration with concentrations in Entrepreneurship, Finance, and International Business with a minor in Leadership Studies, is one of many students who is working to raise awareness of the accomplishments of international students.
Shaik has experienced racial discrimination on UNB’s Fredericton campus, particularly when he was working with Campus Patrol as an Assistant Patrol Leader.
“My colleague and I were racialized, discriminated against, slurred by an intoxicated student at SUB,” Shaik said, explaining that the issue was brought to the SDC, who took a “significant period” of time to handle the situation.
Recently, Shaik helped to plan UNB International week, which aimed to call attention to the achievements of the international student community.
“Over a year ago, I envisioned devising a space for international students to receive the recognition they deserve and show the impact they have built in our community,” explained Shaik. “To establish the recognition of the diversity on-campus, sharing our culture, and acknowledge the achievements of international students.”