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Asian Heritage Month: Home


Anti-Asian Racism

Anti-Asian Racism Social Action Card and text by Centennial College's Innovation, Inclusion, Reconciliation and Healing Portfolio (IIRH).

Anti-Asian racism is prejudice, beliefs, stereotyping and discrimination that is directed at people of Asian descent, rooted in their unique experience with xenophobia. The global pandemic of COVID-19 has sparked a rise in anti-Asian racism, violence and hate that is unacceptable and must be challenged. Anti-Asian racism has a long history in Canada and includes events such as the Japanese internment camps, the Chinese Head Tax and “Yellow Peril” sentiments. Since the spread of COVID-19, anti-Asian racism has been on the rise, with stereotyping, violence and the spread of misinformation about Asian communities. It is important that anti-Asian racism is addressed and challenged.


Three things you can do

1. Educate

Consider what biases you have and how they are connected to a history of anti-Asian racism. Begin the process of unlearning those myths and challenge misinformation from media and your social networks.

2. Check your behaviour

Consider the content you share and choose your words thoughtfully as it is incorrect to refer to COVID-19 as a “Chinese virus”. These behaviours can have consequences that can be harmful.

3. Speak up
The job of speaking out against racism is often left to people who are targeted. This is unfair. Call out acts of racism and ask groups you are part of to denounce anti-Asian racism. Acts motivated by racial prejudice are in violation of  the College’s policies and commitment to equity and inclusion. These acts should be reported to a College representative.

What is Asian Heritage Month?

Canadian Heritage: "May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada, a time to reflect on and recognize the many contributions that Canadians of Asian heritage have made and continue to make to Canada.

Asian Heritage Month has been celebrated since the 1990s. In December 2001, the Senate of Canada adopted a motion proposed by Senator Vivienne Poy [Canada's first Chinese-Canadian senator] to officially designate May as Asian Heritage Month in Canada. In May 2002, the Government of Canada signed an official declaration to announce May as Asian Heritage Month." (links added).

Regions in Asia

Did you know Asia is home to 60% of the world's population with approximately 4.5 billion people (UN DESA, 2022)? The United Nations Statistical Commission identifies five different regions within the continent:

Central Asia Western Asia Southern Asia Southeastern Asia Eastern Asia
Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka Brunei, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam China, Japan, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, and Taiwan


Films & Documentaries

Unwanted Soldiers (1999) available via NFB

In this documentary, filmmaker Jari Osborne documents her father's involvement in World War II and uncovers a legacy of discrimination and racism against British Columbia's Chinese-Canadian community. Sworn to secrecy for decades, Osborne's father and his war buddies now vividly recall their top-secret missions behind enemy lines in Southeast Asia. Theirs is a tale of young men proudly fighting for a country that had mistreated them.

Welcome to Canada (1989) available via NFB

This feature drama tells the story of the illegal landing of a boatload of Southeast Asians on Canada's east coast in 1986. The film follows 8 Sri Lankan Tamils who find temporary sanctuary in an isolated outport in Newfoundland after being rescued from certain death at sea by a group of fishermen.

In the Shadow of Gold Mountain (2004) available via NFB

Filmmaker Karen Cho travels from Montreal to Vancouver to uncover stories from the last survivors of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act, a set of laws imposed to single out the Chinese as unwanted immigrants to Canada from 1885 to 1947. 

Sleeping Tigers: The Asahi Baseball Story (2002) available via NFB

This feature-length documentary tells the story of the Asahi baseball team. In pre-World War II Vancouver, the team was unbeatable, winning the Pacific Northwest Championship for five straight years. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, all persons of Japanese descent in Canada were sent to internment camps. The former Asahi members survived by playing ball. Their passion was contagious and soon other players joined in, among them RCMP officials and local townspeople. As a result, the games helped break down racial and cultural barriers.

A Magical Substance Flows Into Me (2016) via Academic Video Online (AVON)

Robert Lachmann was a German-Jewish ethnomusicologist. In the 1930s, his radio show "Oriental Music" explored the musical traditions of Palestine and included regular live performances by musicians from different ethnic and religious groups.

Water (2005) available via Criterion on Demand

Set in the 1930s during the rise of the independence struggles against British colonial rule, the film examines the plight of a group of widows forced into poverty at a temple in the holy city of Varanasi. It focuses on a relationship between one of the widows, who wants to escape the social restrictions imposed on widows, and a man who is from a lower caste and a follower of Mahatma Gandhi.

Online resources

Organizations dedicated to the promotion and protection of Asian culture in Canada

Additional resources, organizations, and information from the web


An early version of this guide was created by Senior Library Technician, Toni Stockton. It is currently maintained by School of English and Liberal Studies Librarian, Stephanie Power. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns about the guide, contact Stephanie at

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