The #FaceRace Campaign is a living history of the experience of racism by Chinese and Asian Canadians during the global COVID-19 pandemic – and beyond. It aims to build knowledge and awareness about anti-Asian racism in Canada leading up to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. It also aims to empower victims of racism to identify and fight racism, while promoting community resilience.

FaceRace occurs simultaneously with the global fight against anti-Black racism helmed by the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and stands in solidarity for dismantling white supremacist structures that subjugate all racialized peoples. CCNC-SJ believes that as part of being allies, we must commit to the lifelong work of learning and unlearning, including recognizing the ways we have benefitted from anti-Black racism, and to call out anti-Black racism among our own communities, families, and friends.

Most Canadians responded to the world public health crisis through quickly adapting to prevention and containment measures – including frequent hand washing, social distancing, self-isolation, and wearing face masks and other protective gear – under the guidance of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and provincial and municipal health authorities.

However, some Canadians reacted to the outbreak and discovery of initial cases in Wuhan, China, by spreading disinformation, threatening, blaming and targeting Chinese Canadians, other Asian Canadians, and Indigenous Peoples, with racially based micro-aggressions, escalating to hate incidents and violence.

The Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice (CCNC-SJ) reached out to partners Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic in Toronto, Vancouver-based Civic Engagement Network (CEN) and Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter (CCNCTO) to co-ordinate community responses to racism in Canada.



Amid fear and panic of the COVID-19 pandemic, anti-Asian racism among Canadians wrote itself into our common history. Chinese Canadians, many of whom have deep, multi-generational roots in this country, experienced racism along with other Asian communities and Indigenous peoples, anyone seen as “Chinese”.

These are some of the many reported incidents of micro-aggressions, hate incidents and hate crimes told from the point of view of victims of racism in Canada. This list is representative of the Asian Canadian experience during the pandemic, and it is not a complete list of incidents. Many types of racially motivated aggression often go unreported, or they do not make it into the news.

Through the pandemic, Chinese and Asian Canadians began REPORTING HATE INCIDENTS TO CCNC-SJ’S COMMUNITY ALLIES, including Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter’s “FIGHT COVID-19 RACISM” WEBSITE, and Vancouver-based PROJECT 1907’S RACISM INCIDENT REPORTING CENTRE. Other witness accounts can be found at MONTREAL-BASED GROUPE D’ENTRAIDE CONTRE LE RACISME ENVERS LES ASIATIQUES AU QUEBEC (GECREAQ).

Want to report an incident? Please click HERE and fill out a quick questionnaire in English, French, or Chinese.

Responding to Anti-Asian racism during covid-19

Sometimes it’s awkward. A passer-by mutters something to you while you’re walking through a city park, or on the sidewalk on your weekly grocery run. Maybe you’re riding the bus or subway, going to the drugstore to pick up medication for your parents, or groceries for an elderly neighbour. Sometimes you’re not even sure what just happened.

Did a complete stranger direct a comment at you? Did they deliberately move into your personal space – violating social distancing – and then question your right to be here? Did they mock your appearance or act prejudicially against you for being different?

“Whoa! Your English is really good, you speak it well! / Tu parles un beau francais! D’ou viens-tu?” Awkward. The familiar backhanded compliment. Micro-aggressions. You know the answers. You know what you really want to say, but is it worth it?

That’s what racism feels like for many Chinese and Asian Canadians – who have been unfairly blamed for the COVID-19 outbreak.

Many of us freeze in the moment when we face racism happening to us or in front of us, and it’s often only later that we think of something great to say in response. Just make sure it is safe to do so – whether you’re in a physical space or online – by monitoring potential allies, and knowing where you can find additional support. 

As racialized Canadians of diverse heritage, we have the power to choose how we react in instances when we feel that we’ve been targeted for racial bias or discrimination. And we can build our own capacity to respond to difficult situations by observing how others have built their resilience.

Take for example the experiences of Toronto activist and founding editor at @LivingHyphen magazine, Justine Abigail Yu, who used her own voice on social media via Instagram to turn the tables on the person who racially assaulted her.

Justine, a Filipina-Canadian, chose to speak out about what happened to her, took action to make her own response public, and built up her own resilience through ACTIVELY PROMOTING ALLYSHIP.


A couple days later, after more than 18,000 likes of her initial Instagram post, and more than 2,200 comments, Justine TELLS HER FOLLOWERS AND ALLY NETWORK THAT SHE’S REACHED OUT TO LOCAL MEDIA, AND REPORTED THE RACIST INCIDENT ON A COUPLE DATA TRACKING SITES, including CCNC-SJ partner site FIGHT COVID-19 RACISM. Her assailant identified herself as a teacher, so Justine also reached out to local school boards, writing in her post: “I hope that we all bring the same kind of energy and ferocity we have brought to identifying this one woman to pushing for the systemic change in our institutions that produces this kind of racism to begin with.“

On July 29, 2020, Justine recounts her experience to nearly a dozen local and national media organizations, all of whom publish or broadcast her story, which she posts about again ON INSTAGRAM . In her post, she comments on media protecting the identity of her alleged attacker, and that “it is not lost on me that this woman is afforded a level of dignity and protection by these mainstream media outlets while in that quiet moment in the park, I was robbed of all that dignity and protection.”

The next day, Justine pauses a moment to breathe, and to reflect on #BlackLivesMatter – and how our experiences in RACIALIZED COMMUNITIES CREATE CONNECTIONS AND COMMON CAUSE TO FIGHT RACISM

By early August, media hype has passed, and there are SIGNS of positive impact from her activism. Justine writes: “I am not the first person this has happened to nor will I be the last. How many offenses go unreported and unspoken because we are afraid, because it is not worth our time, because no one will believe us anyway?” and “To you I want to say *unequivocally* that there is no “right” way to respond to an experience like this.”

“COURAGE. TENACITY. TRUST. We need to channel all this now to push for systemic change, to change the institutions that create this racism to begin with. After all, we cannot heal in the environment that made us sick.”

– Justine Abigail Yu
To learn more visit livinghyphen.ca.


“I look back at him and stare back, and then pay no attention to him,” writes David, while checking his surroundings for safety, including the presence of other passengers, possible law enforcement, and the likelihood anyone will help him, if he is physically assaulted.


“I keep myself aware of where he is.” Checking and monitoring his own safety, David remains calm, while evaluating his situation. He has his phone and camera in his pocket, but he doesn’t take it out. (I could had taken a photo or a video of him but that would had ignited a reaction from him . . . His stare and his smoking obviously was to try to intimidate me,” David later wrote in response to comments on his post.)

“I positioned myself discretely . . .” Being ready for an attack, David remains calm.

Eventually, the man leaves the train at Jean-Talon metro station.


“I won’t allow myself to be intimidated or to possibly be a victim,” David writes, putting his emotions and thoughts on the record for others to see. 

Sharing these encounters and learning to talk about them with others is key to building community awareness and public safety. David did not back down from a potentially dangerous situation. He made the right decisions, given his circumstances. And he shared his story with the more than 5,300 members of GECREAQ.

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This campaign was supported by the Government of Canada.

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