A rally against Asian hate has been planned this Sunday (March 28) in Penticton at Gyro Park.
Anti-Asian hate crimes have been on the rise across North America since the start of the pandemic. But it was recent events in Atlanta that became the catalyst behind many rallies to stop anti-Asian hate crimes across the continent.
A series of shootings over nearly an hour on March 16 at three Atlanta-area massage parlours left eight people dead, six of whom were Asian women. Since then, rallies have been held to end anti-Asian hate crimes throughout the U.S.
Now, a similar rally has been planned for Penticton. Anti-Asian hate crimes have been on the rise in Penticton as well, rally organizers said.
In Vancouver, police data shows anti-Asian hate crimes have risen by 717 per cent since the start of the pandemic.
Sunday’s rally in Penticton, organized by Yaxin Ma of the Okanagan Chinese Canadian Association and the Okanagan Asian Community, is in response to anti-Asian hate crimes across North America but also locally in Penticton.
Ma and co-organizer George Manz both said that despite being a small community Penticton is not immune to racism. Both Ma and Manz have experienced an uptick in racist behaviour in Penticton since the start of the pandemic.
Ma said it’s time for people to stand up against anti-Asian hate in Penticton.
“We can’t remain silent any more. No one is safe until everyone is,” she said.
Manz said he believes racism has no place in Canada.
“The shooting was really the straw the broke the camel’s back,” Manz said. “Who’s to say it won’t happen here in Canada?”
The rally is set to take place Sunday, March 28 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. in Gyro Park.
Penticton mayor John Vassilaki, Summerland mayor Toni Boot, Peachland mayor Cindy Fortin and South Okanagan—West Kootenay MP Richard Cannings are all set to speak at the event.
Many members of the Okanagan Asian community will speak as well. Students from Holy Cross School will also open the rally by singing O Canada.
Masks and social distancing will be required.