Recognizing Asian workers as part of Canadian heritage
May 17, 2011
This month, as Canadians celebrate
May as Asian Heritage Month, a fleet of Toronto airport limo drivers –
nearly all of whom are of South Asian decent – remain locked
out by their employer. Only last month, the Supreme Court of Canada denied
an almost entirely racialized farm worker population the right to union
representation and collective bargaining. These setbacks are a stark
reminder of the precarious employment conditions that face so many new
immigrants and racialized people in Canada.
Asian Heritage Month provides annual recognition and celebration of the
presence, heritage and cultures of Asian and South Asian people in Canada.
For many, the month of May is a time to recognize the early arrival of Asian
people from various Asian countries and the Indian subcontinent to the
Americas. However, many other Asians have travelled to Ontario from such
places as Uganda, Kenya, Australia, South Africa, Mauritius, Fiji, United
Kingdom, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, to name a few. Today, a diverse
Asian population makes up a significant proportion of Ontario's population.
Proudly drawing upon their richly varied traditions and heritage, Asian
people contribute to many aspects of culture, commerce and public service
across the province.
Unfortunately, Asian workers are no strangers to exploitation and racism in
Canada. Since the first Asian workers arrived in Canada to build
transcontinental railway or work in the lumber mills, coal mines and
fisheries, Asian immigrants often face racism, unsafe work and attacks on
their rights. Racist attitudes towards Asian people have informed
discriminatory laws and policies and continue to appear in society and in
“The now infamous ‘Too Asian’ article, published in Maclean’s magazine last
year, demonstrated that need to continue to challenge such toxic and hateful
mindsets,” said Vice-Chair of OPSEU’s Workers of Colour Caucus and OFL
Vice-President Representing Workers of Colour, Elizabeth Ha.
The OPSEU Workers of Colour are encouraging their members to participate in
the celebrations of Asian Heritage Month across Ontario.
For more Information about Asian History Month events,