In celebration of Asian Heritage Month and in order to provide an opportunity for the SCS community to learn more about the history and experiences of Canadians of Asian descent, which includes Western Asia, East Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, and Southeast Asia, students from the Anti-Racism Committee and our Grades 2 and 3 classes collaborated on a recent e-ssembly.
The theme of Asian Heritage Month this year is “Recognition, Resilience, and Resolve.” Khushi P. ’21 started by recognizing that Asian Canadians have faced racism and discrimination throughout Canada’s history, and we’ve seen a rise in anti-Asian racism this past year. The resilience of Asian Canadians in the face of racism they have been forced to face for generations was acknowledged. We all need to resolve to build a better community, so that Asian Canadians do not have to be resilient in the face of racism.
Over this school year, the Anti-Racism Committee has been having conversations about race, racism, and personal experiences, acknowledging that recognizing and unpacking our implicit biases and stereotypes can help us build a more welcoming community for Asian Canadians, and all Canadians.
“Both of my parents immigrated with my grandparents from Hong Kong to Canada when they were in their teens. Even with a language and culture barrier, my family has had the opportunity to build a good life in Canada, but this opportunity is not and has not always been available for Chinese people. In 1923, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed which banned all Chinese immigration for 24 years…we need to work harder to acknowledge Canada’s exclusionary and racist past, and not pretend it didn’t happen,” said Ruthabella L. ’23
Jasmine L. ’21 spoke about the importance of language: “Language is a big part of my identity. Growing up, I also lived with my grandparents and I started learning to speak Cantonese around the same time I started learning English, and I am so grateful that I did. Since my grandparents only spoke Cantonese, it was especially important that I was able to communicate with them. Listening to (my grandma’s) stories really shaped my outlook on life, and learning more about my culture through their stories shaped who I am.”
Leah M. ’22 talked to our community about identity and intersectionality. She described the idea of intersectionality as if looking through a window; each time a new layer of clouded glass is added it changes what a person sees. These layers of tinted glass are the different minority groups a person is a part of. “Intersectionality is the acknowledgement that everyone has their own unique experiences of discrimination and oppression…intersectionality is the crossroads of being part of multiple minority groups. LGBTQ+ Canadian-Asians are one group among many who face intersectionality.”
Junior School students also contributed to the e-ssembly’s powerful presentation. Members of the Grade 3 class reflected on what Asian Heritage Month means to them, and the importance of learning about different cultures and identities. Then, Grade 2 students read a lyrical picture book by Joanna Ho entitled Eyes That Kiss in the Corners, about a young girl learning to love and celebrate the shape of her eyes – which are just like the eyes of the strong women in her life.