Addressing Western Asian alienation : exploring the application of multiculturalism in B.C. government messaging to address the rise of anti-Asian racism in B.C. during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Chu, Richard
Despite multiculturalism serving as a policy for more than 50 years in Canada and 30 years in British Columbia to build acceptance of cultural diversity, the COVID-19 pandemic has served as an impetus for a resurgence of anti-Asian racism in Canada, particularly in B.C. This study explores how the policy of multiculturalism has been applied in Canada’s westernmost province to address anti-Asian racism, examining its application from a communication perspective and its unique sub-national context. Using a pragmatic, mixed-methods approach, the study involved a survey of Canadians of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean backgrounds living in B.C., and a content analysis of B.C. government messaging related to multiculturalism and anti-Asian racism within the fiscal periods of 2017-18 and 2021-22. The study finds that the provincial government application of multiculturalism focuses on the fundamental acknowledgement of the existence and value of cultural and ethnic diversity rather than on a more advanced application promoting belonging and integration of immigrants into Canadian society. The findings suggest opportunities for government messaging to strengthen its focus on values related to inclusion that are of importance to Canadians of East Asian descent, and a need for the application of multiculturalism to focus on strengthening the sense of belonging between Canadians of all cultural backgrounds and ethnicities to collectively recognize the common values we share as a basis of a common civic identity.
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