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Dig Insights Statement on AAPI Racism

Ever since the outbreak of the pandemic, the term "Asian" has been closely associated with COVID-19. The Chinese Canadian National Council reported that between March 2020 and February 2021, there were over 1150 reported cases of anti-Asian racism, with 73% of them being verbal harassment and 11% involving physical touching or assault. Vancouver alone experienced a whopping 717% increase in hate crimes against Asians in 2020.

"I would never harm someone", "This is not relevant to me" - that's what instantly comes to one's mind. But while we close our eyes and ears, trying to avoid the truth that racism in Canada is real, the reports about Canadian citizens being assaulted, stabbed and even killed say otherwise. In fact, the number of anti-Asian racism reports per Asian capita in Canada is higher than in the US.

Last year's study, run by Dig Insights in collaboration with AV Communications and Logit, revealed that 1 in 5 Chinese Canadians experienced some form of racism due to the pandemic. The fact that 14% of Canadians agree with the statement "Chinese Canadians are more likely to carry the COVID-19 virus than other people in Canada" shows the level of prejudice associated with Asian culture amidst the pandemic. According to Statistics Canada, participants who identified as Chinese, Korean and Southeast Asian were especially impacted by the perceived rise in harassment incidents.

And we only touched on the cases that were reported to officials. Research run by the University of Toronto shows that younger and middle-aged participants are more likely to identify an incident as racist, while people over 65 felt uneasy to use that term. The study's co-leader Weiguo Zhang comments that perhaps those groups "are trying to mitigate the impact by playing down the discrimination, so they don’t get hurt as much". The fact that people choose to hide their experiences suggests that there may be hundreds, if not thousands, more cases that remain unreported due to personal or cultural agendas.

As the number of anti-Asian hate crimes increased since the start of the pandemic, the topic of what it means to be Asian was brought to question. Traditionally, racism has been overlooked by many Asian communities and treated as something shameful or not worth discussing due to cultural differences. Mass media plays a huge part in the way those groups are represented. For decades, Asians have been portrayed as exotic, isolated, and strange to the western world, which fuels the acts of racism and xenophobia among the population. As a result of such misrepresentation, Asian Americans and Asian Canadians might never feel fully at home, standing on the threshold of such different cultures.

While we observe the horrific events happening to Asian communities around the world, it is worth noting that this problem relates to other groups that have been marginalized for many years. As we talk about political and social movements like Stop AAPI Hate or BLM, the topic of our discussion doesn't change. It's still about racism, it always has been.

By writing this piece and showcasing the data, we want to acknowledge the importance of speaking about this issue openly, and invite people to share their stories. Here at Dig, we want to note that while it's hard to predict what's going to happen next, what matters right now is how we support each other, and educate ourselves about the history of xenophobia, systemic racism, and the challenges that people of color face daily.

Anti-racism is something that we're committed to combatting in the short and long term. We believe that commitment from us is two-fold: it means working with our teams to progress the conversation against racism and Asian hate, while also developing initiatives that genuinely affect change. We're currently running diversity & inclusion workshops for everyone at Dig Insights, we launched two BIPOC Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarships in 2021, and the hiring practices we've put in place work hard to address systemic racism and unconscious biases. We're also in a unique position to arm people and businesses with consumer research on this topic, and we plan to share up-to-date data regularly to shed light on the ongoing fight against racism, discrimination, and prejudice.

Paul Gaudette, CEO

Dig Insights

If you'd like to learn more about anti-Asian racism or donate to organizations that support the fight against Asian hate, we've also compiled a list of resources you can check out:

If you or someone you know has experienced racism, you can visit these websites to report the incident: