The Collingwood Neighbourhood House (CNH), its Board, staff and members mourn the loss of eight lives taken in a horrific act of violence in Atlanta, Georgia. Out of respect for the families who have asked for the victim’s names to remain private, we will not share their names at this time.
We recognize that six of the eight victims were Asian women, making this enraging and heartbreaking act of violence one that reverberates greatly through the Asian community in North America and beyond. As well, the specific and targeted locations of these murders brings to light the vulnerable plight of immigrant and migrant working class women involved in domestic work and sex work, and we recognize the impact these murders have on this community. The victims come from many walks of life as grandmothers, mothers, daughters, and spouses whose families are forever affected. We ought not to make assumptions or conclusions about their work, but hear their stories and celebrate the impact their lives have had on those around them.
While the act was perpetrated in the United States, we acknowledge that Canada is not immune to the kind of racism and misogyny that brought about this crime. From laws that targeted early Chinese immigrants for discrimination, to the internment of Japanese Canadians in World War II, to the marked increase in recent acts of Anti-Asian racism and violence in our own neighbourhoods, let us remember that we must be ready to challenge racist and misogynistic attitudes and actions whenever we encounter them.
To our friends in the Asian-Canadian community, and immigrant and migrant sex workers, CNH stands with you in this time of grieving and we want you to know that you belong in this community. We grieve with you over the tragic loss of lives and we recognize that this is a sensitive time with feelings of fear, disbelief, and confusion.
While CNH makes this statement of solidarity with those impacted by this crime, we know that statements alone are not enough. If we truly believe that there is no place for Anti-Asian racism, violence, and misogyny, then we must reflect on how each of us perpetuates these wrongs, and instead work toward centering the voices and perspectives of those most affected in our communities. We also are committed to deepening healing, building friendships, and cultivating understanding amongst diverse cultural groups in our community.
Last Spring, CNH’s Board organized and conducted a Town Hall on ‘Anti-Asian Racism During the Pandemic’, leading a discussion on the racist and discriminatory behaviours occurring against Asian-Canadians in Renfrew-Collingwood. The conversations that came out of this event continue to underscore the need for change at a systemic, community, and interpersonal level. We must examine injustices and together imagine a kind, equitable, and radical future.
To mutually share in learning and action about anti-racism, we invite you to visit CNH’s resources page at www.cnh.bc.ca/communityresources.
It was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” It is in that same spirit of justice for all that Collingwood Neighbourhood House identifies with the Asian-Canadian community, and immigrant and migrant sex workers. We will listen to you, grieve with you, learn from you, grow with you, and fight for you.
When Kulwant Kaur talks about CNH, she often refers to love: her love of working at CNH and her love for what staff do.