The City of Vaughan is dedicated to fostering a community that is diverse, welcoming and inclusive of everyone. And I am happy to announce that at the Council meeting of April 20, 2021, Members of Council renewed the City’s commitment to combatting all forms of racism, including discrimination targeted at the Asian-Canadian community.
Since the emergence of COVID-19, media outlets have reported a disturbing rise in racist behaviour toward Asian communities in Canada and around the world. In July 2020, Vaughan Council responded by unanimously endorsing my Member’s Resolution condemning the initial rise in anti-Asian racism at the onset of the global pandemic. On April 13, 2021, during a meeting of the Committee of the Whole (2), I brought forward another Member’s Resolution that reinforced Council’s efforts to “once again unequivocally denounce all forms of racism, bigotry and discrimination – and especially racism targeted at Asian-Canadians.” This Member’s Resolution was unanimously endorsed by Council at the April 20 Council meeting.
As one of Canada’s most diverse communities with residents who come from around the world and where 105 different languages are spoken, the City of Vaughan continues to stand up against all forms of hate, racism and discrimination. Vaughan is a vibrant, multicultural city that continues to benefit from the rich cultural diversity of our citizens.
As COVID-19 persists, Asian-Canadians continue to experience an increase of hate-based discrimination, harassment and acts of violence. The reports are disturbing, showing a 50% increase in physical assaults since 2020, 65% of all cases being aggressive verbal assaults, and women are disproportionately impacted reporting over 60% of all cases. I took this important step forward to ensure we as a City denounce this alarming increase in hate-based discrimination, all while demonstrating our unwavering support to Vaughan’s growing, active and engaged Asian community. Together, we need to remain steadfast in our commitment to make Vaughan a place where everyone is encouraged to succeed. We need to stop being bystanders and take action against racism of all forms.
In February 2020, as COVID-19 emerged, Mayor Bevilacqua and I took part in the Asialicious Asian Restaurant Food Festival to show our unwavering support for Asian-Canadian small businesses in Vaughan and encourage residents to dine locally. The City of Vaughan has engaged in several economic and trade missions to Asia to explore and access opportunities that benefit emerging markets within the local business community. In 1995, the City established a Friendship City partnership with Yangzhou, China, and, in 1997, entered into a Twin City arrangement with Baguio, Philippines. The City is currently discussing an international partnership with Sanjo, Japan, in follow-up to an initial Friendship City agreement formed in 1993. These international relationships further demonstrate how Vaughan cherishes its relationships with the global Asian community.
To enrich, engage and educate all people about the contributions made by individuals of Asian heritage, the City’s robust Cultural Heritage Events program continues to expand. Each year, Council hosts Lunar New Year festivities that include a traditional lion dance, eye-dotting ceremony and other celebrated cultural performances. In 2021, the City’s first-ever virtual Lunar New Year event took place, inviting people from around the world to watch the celebration online.
To continue to advance the City’s diversity, inclusion and accessibility efforts, Vaughan welcomed its first-ever Diversity and Inclusion Officer in January 2021. This new position has influenced the Corporation’s activities, provides strategic guidance and advice on policies, processes and procedures related to diversity, equity and inclusion and helps facilitate a renewed mandate for the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer. The City’s Diversity and Inclusion Officer also supports the Diversity and Citizen Engagement Task Force, the existing Accessibility Advisory Committee and other Council meetings.
As we continue to navigate this global pandemic, I hope we learn to encourage and support each other as a community to ensure we come out stronger on the other side. Vaughan is home to an active, engaged and thriving Asian-Canadian community that positively impacts and contributes to the exceptional quality of life in the city.