FACL BC STATEMENT AGAINST PREJUDICIAL MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE CORONAVIRUS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE I FEBRUARY 9, 2020
VANCOUVER, B.C. - The Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (British Columbia) Society (“FACL BC”) unequivocally condemns The Province newspaper’s February 6th, 2020 headline that described the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) as the "China Virus." The Province newspaper is one of the most widely distributed newspapers in British Columbia, hence the impact of its journalism is far-reaching and significant.
FACL BC calls on The Province to publicly apologize for using such a xenophobic headline that targets the Asian community. We also call on The Province, as well as other journalists, news organizations and other public sources of information to exercise greater responsibility and cultural sensitivity in reporting on the Novel Coronavirus.
The use of the term China Virus is a deliberate conflation between the Novel Coronavirus and China or Chinese people. This has no factual or scientific basis and is rooted in prejudice and the racial profiling of people of Chinese origin, who account for roughly 12 percent of the B.C. population. Most significantly, it contributes towards the racialization of diseases such as the Novel Coronavirus, which in turn perpetuates the recent rise in xenophobic hate crimes against the Asian community in Canada.
These incidents are unfortunately reminiscent of the discrimination faced by Asian-Canadians during the 2003 SARS outbreak. A 2004 report, “Yellow Peril Revisited: The Impact of SARS on Chinese and Southeast Asian Communities”, examined the impact of the SARS outbreak on Asian-Canadians, and found pervasive discrimination, harassment, and marginalization in workplaces and public settings. People avoided restaurants and businesses in the Chinese community and shunned individuals with Asian backgrounds. It is critical that we remember these experiences and ensure that they do not continue.
In light of the fact that headlines such as the one used by The Province can put entire communities at risk, it is imperative that journalists exercise greater responsibility and sensitivity when reporting on the Novel Coronavirus.
FACL BC calls on political leaders at all levels of government to be proactive in combatting misperceptions and discrimination during this time. As the situation continues to develop, FACL BC will continue to engage with its members, relevant stakeholders, and decision-makers to ensure that we are all vigilant in addressing prejudice against people of Asian descent.
We hope that you join us in calling for accountability on the part of The Province. As British Columbians, we should expect and demand better.
For those who have experienced discrimination, here are some resources:
If you have been a victim of a hate crime, contact your local Police or RCMP detachment or dial 9-1-1.
Connect with a community agency to get support. There are various organizations in British Columbia that can provide support for victims of racism, including those in Organizing Against Racism and Hate (OARH) communities across the province.
File a complaint with the BC Human Rights Tribunal (http://www.bchrt.bc.ca/index.htm)
If you are a person of limited means and wish to get legal advice, contact Access Pro-bono (http://www.accessprobono.ca/contact-apb)
About FACL BC
The Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers (British Columbia) Society is a diverse coalition of Asian Canadian legal professionals working to promote equity, justice, and opportunity for Asian Canadian legal professionals and the wider community. FACL BC represents the interests of over 300 legal professionals in British Columbia. Its members include lawyers from all areas of practice ranging from large firm lawyers, in-house counsel, solo practitioners, students, professors and lawyers serving at all levels of government.
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