Teachers will get a hand bringing conversations and lessons about anti-Asian racism into the classroom with a new resource guide released Tuesday.
“Addressing anti-Asian Racism: A Resource for Educators” was created as a collaboration between the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) and Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), to help broach the topic with students of all grade levels — from K to 12.
The resource contains four sections and walks teachers through the context around Asian Canadian identities, concepts such as the “model minority myth” and the history of anti-Asian racism in Canada. From there it provides strategies for addressing and advocating for an anti-oppressive learning environment, and plenty of resources for teachers and administration to keep the conversation going.
Jason To, a teacher and one of eight co-authors of the guide, said this resource will give teachers an opportunity to add more critical thinking to their lesson plans.
“There (are) ways to go about learning about the history of Canada — you can do it in a very kind of passive way, you know, learning about dates and names and events,” To said. “Or you can look at the contents through a critical lens and really take a look at … whose stories are being told.”
Moments of anti-Asian racism in history go back to the Chinese head tax, Japanese internment camps in the Second World War, the Komagata Maru ship of Sikh immigrants being turned away by Canada and reactions to SARS in 2003. They are even being written in as recently as last year.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic spurred an increase in anti-Chinese and anti-Asian racism in Canada and other countries.
Hate incidents targeting the Asian community in Vancouver rose 878 per cent in the first nine months of 2020, compared to 2019, according to Vancouver police.
In October 2020, the City of Toronto launched a campaign against anti-East Asian racism.
“This is not the first time we’re hearing about anti-Asian racism. It has a real historical context in Canada,” said Sangeeta McAuley, a teacher and co-author of the guide, adding that the recent spike in racism, pushes us to think about when we’ve seen this before.
And some of these recent incidents have hit close to home.
Co-author To said that he came across a viral video of two Toronto teenagers yelling hateful language at a Korean woman on the subway — the teens turned out to be students at the school where he was teaching at the time.
“It kind of hit me in a way that was different than anything (else I’d seen),” To said.
The perspective the video was shot from, and the fact that he knew these young people in real life, had a bigger impact on him.
Something that was at the forefront of the author’s minds while writing was centring the Black and Indigenous experience in the book, said McAuley.
The hope is for the resource to help create solidarity, while recognizing that the racism experienced by all of these communities is different and there are ways that Asian-Canadians have historically and currently contributed to some of Canada’s oppressive systems.
“The ultimate goal is really fighting white supremacy and colonialism,” McAuley said.
The guide is available online through both the TDSB and ETFO’s websites.
To launch the project, ETFO and the TDSB will be hosting an online event from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday: Addressing anti-Asian Racism in Schools and Communities. The resource was launched with Black History Month in mind, to highlight solidarity in anti-racism initiatives.
Angelyn Francis is a Toronto-based reporter for the Star covering equity and inequality. Her reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach her via email: email@example.com
Angelyn Francis, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Toronto Star