Montreal's Korean consulate issues safety warning after man stabbed
Warning is exacerbating concerns about coronavirus-related racism directed at Canadians of Asian descent
A previous version of this story stated two Korean people were stabbed last weekend. In fact, only one of the two stabbing victims was Korean.
The Korean consulate in Montreal is warning Koreans to be careful after a man of Korean descent was stabbed last weekend.
The warning is exacerbating concerns about racism directed at people of Asian descent in Canada brought on by panic about the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The 44-year-old man was stabbed on Décarie Boulevard in NDG Sunday morning. Police did not disclose the race of the victim, who sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
Jo Park, a 20-year-old NDG resident of Korean descent, lives not far from where the man was attacked. She said by the end of last week, she felt as though more people were watching and avoiding her in public places such as the Metro, whereas before they would pay her no mind.
She asked to stay home from work for the next two weeks because she doesn't feel safe.
"I've been living in this neighbourhood for 15 years now, and this is the first time I feel like I'm not at home," she said.
"I feel like I'm not welcome here. It's pretty scary."
Jay Choi, 24, said she was shocked by the news of the stabbing. While she and her friends have grown "accustomed" to microaggressions and racist remarks, those comments seldom provoke fear.
But hearing about assaults, she said, is a whole other thing.
Her sister Hyun Choi, 27, echoed that sentiment.
"We feel like we're being blamed for the situation," she said
Recent increase in racist incidents
In late January and early February, as information and misinformation about the coronavirus began to spread, Chinese and Asian Canadians began speaking out about dealing with an increase in racism and xenophobia.
- Racism 'still very much alive' in Canada as stereotypes around coronavirus spread, some warn
- Students, parents on Montreal's South Shore warned against racism over coronavirus
Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada's chief public health officer, condemned what she called "unacceptable and hurtful" remarks.
Earlier this month, several sites frequented by Montreal's Chinese and Vietnamese communities were vandalized. Police are investigating the incidents as religious hate crimes, said Const. Jean-Pierre Brabant.
Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Mayor Valérie Plante tried to reassure people of Asian descent living in Montreal.
"Ultimately, the virus is not connected to any specific communities and right now ... we need to work together," she said.
"I'm really asking people to be very cautious of their actions, their words, what they're writing on social media that is absolutely not helpful at this point. We're all in this together. And it's not about your race, your gender, the language you [speak] or anything. It's about being together."
Hyun Choi pointed out that right now, Europe is being hit particularly hard by the virus, but she hasn't seen reports of Italians or other people of European descent being targeted.
"We feel like coronavirus is an excuse to express discrimination and anger toward Asians that people probably already [felt]," Jay Choi said.
She also brought up how U.S. President Donald Trump has referred to coronavirus as the "Chinese Virus," saying that kind of terminology isn't exactly welcoming for North America's Asian community.
Park said she has heard about racist incidents directed at Koreans and other Asians elsewhere in the world, and said it is important Montrealers know the same thing is happening here.
"I think people should also know that Asians are also scared of the virus, so we're really being careful. We're not trying to spread anything weird.… It's new to us too," she said.
"We just want to feel as safe as other people do."
- A previous version of this story stated two Korean people were stabbed last weekend. In fact, only one of the two stabbing victims was Korean.Mar 19, 2020 10:41 AM ET
With files from Jennifer Yoon