There were calls for better data collection and more awareness campaigns at a Halifax committee meeting on Monday, where anti-Asian racism was discussed.
Christine Qin Yang, the vice-chair of the Halifax Regional Municipality's Women's Advisory Committee, made a presentation to the executive standing committee.
Qin Yang told committee members that between February 2020 and March 2021, 1,550 anti-Asian incidents were reported across Canada and 59 per cent of those were directed against women.
She believes many more incidents go unreported.
"Due to language barriers, immigration status and because many of them are verbal attacks, verbal attacks are not considered to be a hate crime," said Qin Yang.
Qin Yang said she could not provide numbers for Halifax because police here do not collect data based on race or gender.
But Mayor Mike Savage said incidents do take place here. He told the committee he received a letter in March 2020 from a woman whose Chinese daughter was accused of bringing the COVID-19 virus to Canada.
"It was very emotional to read this letter about someone who was doing an essential job at the time being accosted in this manner. It happens," said Savage.
Deputy Mayor Tim Outhit said the situation made him sad.
"But we will certainly view this as a call to action," said Outhit.
Qin Yang said other places, such as New York and Toronto, have put together tool kits to raise awareness about anti-Asian racism and encourage people to report incidents.
"New York launched a Stop Asian Hate tool kit, in 22 Asian languages. I find it very helpful," said Qin Yang.
She pointed out that almost 75 per cent of the incidents reported across Canada took place in public spaces such as parks and on transit.
Following a March shooting in Atlanta where six Asian Americans were killed, HRM's Chief Administrative Officer Jacques Dubé sent out an internal memo to employees about anti-Asian racism.
Dubé said Qin Yang's recommendations will be considered.
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