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Readers respond: The line between us: For Chinese-Canadians like me, coronavirus is just the latest strain of infectious fear we’ve faced

It’s okay if my reaction to a virus originating from a Chinese market isn’t to immediately go out for dim sum. That doesn’t make me racist. –fadodado


I found this to be a very informative and sincere article on the situation of Chinese-Canadians. I am a white person living in Markham and so can fully relate to the writer’s comments. Canada (or at least our Prime Minister) touts Canada as a multicultural one and within limits I support that. However I do get upset when I see Chinese-only advertising and other signs posted around the city. I have called some of these people and advised them that the signs should include one or both of Canada’s official languages (I speak both), to show respect and inclusivity to non-Chinese citizens here. –kenneth wightman


“And the line can also cause Chinese-Canadians to ignore what we’ve lost of our own ethnic culture in pursuit of some idea of a flawless integration into Canadian society. We risk accepting the kind of assimilation that requires us to discard the habits, perspectives and traditions of our culture.”

Many of us whose first ancestors in Canada date back to the late-18th century can relate to that. We’ve had to discard some of our Christian traditions in order to accommodate an increasingly multicultural population. Happy holidays! –app_66019097


I backpacked around England in the mid-1970s and was well aware of why people treated me with diffidence when they knew about my Irish background. After all, it was my fellow countrymen who were setting off bombs and killing innocent people in England. We own our cultural backgrounds and can’t celebrate some aspects of it without accepting the negative. –moatview1


Well-written and impactful.

I love all people regardless of race, colour or gender. The more law-abiding, income-earning, tax-paying, culturally enriching people in Canada the better, and that includes all people of Chinese origins or otherwise.

At the moment, though, 99 per cent of people with the coronavirus are Chinese so it’s only natural for others to be a little cautious around those who look Chinese or Asian and who appear ill.

That is not racism, it is a survival instinct. –No Vacancy

‘I know some people are going to get racist about this virus with Chinese-Canadians.’ Readers react to racism fears over the coronavirus

‘I am Chinese myself and I have avoided crowded Chinese restaurants.’ How readers are dealing with the coronavirus, plus other letters to the editor

‘Have you been to Wuhan in the last 14 days? Uh, no.’ Readers assess Canada’s reaction to the coronavirus so far, plus other letters to the editor

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Customers trying to decide which N95 mask to buy at Rotblott's Discount Warehouse on Jan. 27, 2020.Fred Lum/the Globe and Mail

This is clearly a sensitive issue, and it’s nice to sit back and read the comments after several hours. First, let me say that no country has, or probably could have, achieved as much as China did in such a short period of time. In 40 years or so, they’ve gone from a quasi-feudal system to being the second-largest economy in the world that took hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. But with power and money come arrogance. Just look south of the border!

That said, as someone with roots that stretch back to 1632, I can say that it’s a Canadian pastime to mock one another, even those who come from founding families. I found many of the comments here to be respectful, intelligent and exhibiting what we call critical reasoning, the sine qua non for any real democratic system. True, the author got some of the usual trash comments, but even some of these exhibited a phobia for recent and ongoing events between China and Canada.

For someone like myself who is not keen on dual nationality, although not from any racial or ethnic bias, I can assure you a large majority of Canadians are far more tolerant now than they used to be. When I was growing up, Catholics and Protestants rarely mixed! –Gerard Naddaf1


Well said. I have lots of Chinese friends. I find in many I relate to them better than my white Canadian friends.

Having said that, there are real concerns about this coronavirus outbreak. The numbers are easily trending to hundreds of thousands infected within the next week. I hope I am wrong.

We must separate our fear and bigotry from common sense and science. This outbreak is of grave concern for all countries in the world. Our government is lagging behind the leading Western countries’ efforts to protect their citizens.

It is time to do the right thing for Canadians and take the necessary measures to protect them. Self-reporting imparts too much risk. We need to be quarantining all people from high risk areas. –Uncle Fester

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Several dozen Chinese-Canadians talk to the media as they arrive at Union Station in Toronto, on June 19, 2006.J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

Great article. Unfortunately xenophobia has existed in this country since the first settlers. My Italian grandparents, aunties, uncle, mother and cousins were all on the receiving end. For them, fortunately, they became less visible as a minority. But I was born here. In 1969, my then father-in-law (born in Ireland), called me “Eyetalian,” even though my father was Anglo. I have heard from other friends what it’s like being a visible minority. Pure ugliness comes up faster when we’re afraid and jealous. –Saltspringer


I have a choice. I can see Canada through the people I am working and interacting with on a daily basis and conclude this is a country that is open, kind, generous and fair. I can also view Canada through the comments of some of the posters here as a mean-spirited place that is filled with prejudice and hatred. I choose to see Canada through the real people in my life. I hope all people, including my fellow Chinese-Canadians, do the same. Like anything else, the country I choose to be my home is a wonderful country, but it has its fair share of challenges. But I would rather deal with those than others elsewhere.

As a Chinese person, my culture and ethnic identity will always stay with me. I am proud of it and do not need affirmation from anyone else. I was born in China and therefore am forever connected to that country and people. It is just as important a part of me as Canada is. I am hopeful for the future of that country and people, and inspired by how much was accomplished within such a short period of time. I have a great life in Canada, which I love dearly. I am sad to be apprehensive for its future in an increasingly polarized world. –C. Li


My mother has a very pronounced Caribbean accent. I talk to her almost every day. I have the HAL 9000 accent. I can’t even do hers, and I don’t know why. I’ve tried, I know exactly what it sounds like, but I can’t pull it off. And it’s hard to sound quite Canadian if you’re not born here, no matter how Canadian you’ve become. It’s sort of a mark that people who move to Canada are stuck worth.

That’s part of the reason I don’t like improv. They’ll do a cheesy foreign accent, but just imagine how hard it is for the foreign guy to try sounding like murderous old HAL, because that’s as Canadian as Canadian English gets, and he can’t quite do it. But that’s a Canadian-born kid with a Caribbean-born mother who has lived and worked in Canada for 50 years and is now retired.

The difference in experience is real. The kid in Grade 2 might be embarrassed now, but 20 years from now she’ll be proud every time her mom speaks out loud, in public, because she’ll see that as the accent of someone who gave up everything she had – and never could become quite what she might have been – so that her kid would succeed.

And that’s the life of people who come to Canada with funny-sounding accents. –Excimer

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