Diversecities is a community-based organization that has been working with underrepresented and marginalized groups in Calgary since 1978 through community-based projects, programs and initiatives, that has deep community connections and rich history supporting members of the East and South Asian communities, especially the Chinese community, to achieve social integration and a sense of belonging with Calgary and region. Diversecities supports Alberta’s vaccination strategies and believe it is one of the biggest reasons for the quick turnaround of Alberta’s economy. We disagree with the statement made by the Alberta Premier, Danielle Smith, this past October 11th, 2022, claiming that people who have chosen not to get a Covid-19 vaccine have been the “most discriminated against group that she has ever witnessed in her lifetime.”
Although it can be argued that being unable to retain or find a job, having restricted mobility across the country or not being allowed to enter a public gathering based on a medical choice can be considered discrimination; this is incomparable to the uncountable cases of people who have been subject to racially-motivated harassment, intolerance, and assault while walking with their children on the streets, demanding them to "return to where they belong," being spat on and subject to racial slurs while performing their jobs or walking in the park just for their physical characteristics because they are of Asian descent. Or as the tragic cases of people who have been assaulted and killed for having a different skin colour or cultural heritage, or people who have been killed or prosecuted around the word for having a different political opinion, for seeking to express their own opinion in an open and free manner or are seeking equal rights for themselves and communities.
Diversecities, as well as many other communities organizations in Calgary and Alberta, have invested the last few years in developing community education projects to visualize, decrease and address racism and hate crimes against visible minorities, including the Asian communities, who are victims of physical, verbal and emotional assaults and abuses due to their heritage, physical appearance, religious beliefs, or something as trivial as the way they speak. Some of those projects are also funded by the Government of Alberta through the Alberta Culture and Status of Women’s Community Initiatives Program. On May 25th of the current year, the Government of Alberta appointed a series of Community Liaison Officers to work in coordination with the Government of Alberta Hate Crimes Coordination Unit and Alberta Racism Advisory Council to initiate community dialogues about the increase in hate crimes in the province with the goal of presenting a work plan to address this problem.
For this reason, we are surprised and deeply concerned by Premier Smith’s views regarding the state of victims of discrimination in the region and her way of assessing and prioritizing marginalized groups.
We would like to formally request a meeting with the Premier of Alberta to share with her the information, statistics and testimonials of members of the Asian community who have been victims of racism in Alberta, as well as discuss community education and public policy initiatives that can be implemented and promoted by the Government of Alberta to increase visibility, prevent and address acts of racism and hate crimes against the Asian community and other marginalized and underrepresented groups in Alberta.
Hopefully, this will allow Premier Smith to reflect on her recent declarations and how they can be perceived as insensible, harmful and incorrect to the diverse communities that integrate into Alberta’s social mosaic.
Diversecities Chief Executive Officer