A new campaign is trying to “sanitize the stigma” and discrimination that activists say is stemming from coronavirus fears.
The initiative was launched by the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice and is called “Stop the Spread,” to combat what they feel is “growing xenophobia” against Asian Canadians amid increasing fears of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.
Dr. Jospeh Wong, co-founder of the organization, says Asian Canadians have been on the receiving end of increased discrimination over the past few weeks.
“Sometimes [people’s] behaviour, their overreaction, can hurt people and stigmatize a whole community,” he said. “We are seeing a lot of these incidents in public areas, in transit, in hockey arenas, in schools and in other places and it is extremely hurtful to Canadians of Asian descent.”
As part of the campaign’s kickoff, volunteers dressed in what looked like white hazmat suits handed out bottles of hand sanitizer at Nathan Philips Square on Tuesday morning. The bottles featured stickers with the message “Stop the spread of racism. Ignorance has reached epidemic proportions.”
The activation coincided with the launch of the campaign’s website which lists the uses and benefits of the symbolic sanitizer, including protection against “toxic behaviour,” and alleviation of “irrational fear and prejudice.”
The volunteers distributed over 300 bottles that were happily accepted, given that hand sanitizer is currently a hot commodity and stores cannot restock their shelves with the germ-killing gel fast enough.
The organization hopes their message will help people consider the way they treat the Asian community and they’re also urging people to help support Asian-owned businesses.