On Sunday, March 21, locals took to the streets to denounce anti-Asian racism in Montreal — and worldwide. The protest was sparked by a mass shooting in Atlanta-area massage parlours. The shooter killed eight people, primarily Asian women.
One of the organizers, Julie Tran, told MTL Blog that "Atlanta was a wake-up call to do something," but that it wasn't the first time Asian people have been the victims of violence in the past year.
"Since the pandemic, [anti-Asian racism] has become more violent," Tran said.
One Montrealer, Won Queenie See, shared her experience of the protest with us, saying: "I was proud to walk the streets of Montreal and be surrounded by my community, my friends and allies. Together, we chanted #StopAsianHate and let our voices be heard."
She said she "encourage[s] everyone to speak up against racism, to check in on your Asian friends and stand by your Asian friends."
The Groupe d'Entraide contre le racisme envers les asiatiques au Québec (GECREAQ) was the group that planned the protest, and they let us know that thousands were in attendance and at least 250 people were watching it virtually.
The three administrators of GECREAQ, namely Julie Tran, Sarah-Lê Côté, and Anne C. Beaulieu, told MTL Blog they were "shocked" with the turnout and thrilled to see so many people march alongside them.
On the GECREAQ's website, there's a page that explains ways to be an ally, which you can check out if you're trying to find other means of supporting the Asian community beyond protesting.
Julie Tran reminded us that "it is really important to listen to the Asian people who expressed their feelings when they feel discriminated."
"Remember, we stand a fighting chance if we're doing this together. This is a wake-up call. It's time to take up space and speak up. Our voices matter," Won Queenie See said.