Asian people have had huge impacts on Canada and the world. In the month of May, we celebrate this illustrious history by recognizing the contributions of Asian people of all stripes — entrepreneurs, leaders, and more.
Asian Heritage Month was originally proposed by Senator Vivienne Poy in 2001, after being celebrated annually starting in the 1990s in Canada. The following year, the Government of Canada officially designated May as Asian Heritage Month, to be observed each year across the country. The Government of Canada website also keeps a series of resources about Asian-Canadian history available, including specific history bites about East, South, Southeast, West, and Central Asian groups.
This year’s AHM theme is “Continuing a legacy of greatness.” This theme evokes a respect for the history of Asian people in Canada, and a vision for a prosperous future for Asian-Canadians heading forward. This is especially important to consider and focus on as anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination have also been on the rise in recent years, especially in the COVID-19 pandemic. Combatting racism of all kinds is crucial to inclusion and liberation for all people.
What are some ways to be an ally to your Asian neighbours and colleagues?
Learn the difference between different Asian ethnicities. And stop making assumptions that all the Asian people you know or see are of the same cultural or ethnic background. While there are many similarities between many of these cultures, they are not all the same. Take the time to learn about the different kinds of Asian heritage represented in your community, and how you can appreciate or celebrate with them! (We have a great list of holidays from all kinds of cultures and countries, including Asian ones, in our diversity calendar download from earlier this year!)
Disrupt and unlearn stereotypes. Even well-intentioned “good” stereotypes can be harmful. Consider the “model minority myth”, the result of campaigns to portray Asian people as “hard working, successful at school and in the workplace, and as economically prosperous”, in order to combat racism around the 1940s. Stereotypes about the supposed docility and intelligence of Asian people undermine the experiences of discrimination and racism they face, even to this day.
Support your local Asian businesses. This is also a great way to practice all of the above! Get to know your Asian neighours running restaurants, clothing stores, ice cream shoppes, and more! Knowing more about the people around you generally supports stronger, more interconnected communities.
MT Consulting Group was co-founded by two women, one of whom is Southeast Asian! Sherilyn Trompetter, MBA CCIP, is a proud Filipina-Canadian woman. She brings her years of experience, professional and personal, to everything that she does. Along with Sky, we are ready to take your workplace’s inclusivity practices to the next level. Connect with us today!