Saskatoon's Chinese community speaks out against COVID-19 racism

Residents in Saskatoon gathered today to speak-out against COVID-19-related racism. The event was organized by the city's Chinese community after a 15-year-old boy suffered an alleged racist attack in May.

Community organized march in light of alleged attack on 15-year-old boy in May

People gathered in downtown Saskatoon on Sunday to raise awareness that it’s wrong to associate Chinese community members with spreading the COVID-19 virus. (CBC)

Residents in Saskatoon gathered today to speak out against COVID-19-related racism.

The event was organized by the city's Chinese community after a 15-year-old boy suffered an alleged racist attack in May.

The boy was out for a bike ride when a man allegedly started yelling at him, accusing him of spreading the virus, and threw him to the ground. The boy managed to capture a short video of the alleged attacker.

Now, the community has come together to let others know that that behaviour won't be tolerated.

Organizer Justin Zhong said when he heard about the attack on the teenager in the park, he thought this was the time to speak up.

"It is not fair to relate COVID-19 to our Chinese community," he said.

Rally attendee Xianming Zhao said he was disturbed when he saw the video.

"When I saw it I was shocked," he said. 

"He got attacked because he was not accepted as part of the Canadians and was mistreated so that's the saddest thing about this story."

About 100 people gathered in Saskatoon's Kinsmen Park on Sunday afternoon and then marched through downtown to City Hall. (CBC)

Zhao said he wanted to attend the rally because there's so much misinformation about COVID-19.

"They thought that Chinese carried the virus to Saskatoon, trying to spread the virus all over the world," he said. "But actually this is not the case."

Zhao said that overall he has been treated very well in Saskatoon.

"I have many heartwarming stories about Saskatoon," he said. "People here are just friendly. There are only a very few people that think that Chinese carry the virus. That's why … I want people to gather the correct information about this COVID."

About 100 people attended the event, chanting "equality for all races" and "we love our Saskatoon" as they marched through the city's downtown.

The event was spurred by an alleged racist attack on a 15-year-old boy in May. (CBC)

Saskatchewan's Human Rights Commissioner Michael San Miguel attended the event. He said it's important people are speaking out.

"Racism doesn't belong in Saskatchewan. It's important that we work together, especially during the pandemic, and it's important we're one human family."

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark also attended the event, saying he did so because he wants to help build a city where people are not attacked because of the colour of their skin or their identity.

"There were many kids here who want to know they're going to grow up in a community where they're going to be supported, and welcomed, and safe, and to have a chance to live out their dreams here, and not fear that the next time they go on a bike ride they're going to be attacked. Nobody should have to live with that fear."

The man responsible for the alleged attack has been charged with assault. He's set to appear in court in August.

He has maintained that he never said anything racist to the boy. He turned himself into police when he heard police had issued a warrant for his arrest.

With files from Morgan Modjeski