Asian Heritage Month is an important time of reflection for Annie Lau, Sport for Life’s Senior Coordinator of Operations.
It’s a time to celebrate her culture, express pride in her ethnicity, and further commit to confronting and denouncing the anti-Asian racism that exists in Canada.
“Asian Heritage Month represents all Asian-Canadians and our cultures, traditions, and history. It celebrates us and our history, and continues to where we are today. Especially since last year, anti-Asian racism is incredibly important to call out, and this hits me even more than before,” said Lau.
“It is so important to be diverse, without racism and discrimination, because Canada wouldn’t have such a rich cultural mosiac if it wasn’t for Asian-Canadians. Multiculturalism is the way to go because Canada is just one of many countries in the world, and I believe we should lead by example.”
Lau herself has been lucky during her sporting career, because being Asian wasn’t a barrier to her involvement in volleyball. She played for a college varsity team and the deaf national team, and never felt like she was being discriminated against because of her background. However, since COVID-19, things have changed.
“I have seen people giving me looks because I look like an Asian. It makes me feel uncomfortable and unsafe being out in public alone. I know I am not alone in this, but it just sucks. This is not the way to live my life. This is 100 per cent a problem, not only in Canada but everywhere in the world,” she said.
“In 2020, B.C. reported the highest level of anti-Asian racism [in Canada] and I currently reside in B.C. I worry for my Asian friends and family, and especially myself with the communication barriers I face due to mandatory masks. Asian or not, we’re just like everyone, no matter what our ethnicity is. This includes people with disabilities like myself. We’re all one.”
This year, Lau starred in an anti-Asian racism PSA that is now available on YouTube. She hopes it will have the power to impact people’s thinking.
“We’re all in this together. Especially at this time with the pandemic we’re experiencing, anti-Asian racism is not okay, no matter when or where it’s happening,” she said.
That’s why she’s thrilled to be a member of Sport for Life’s Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility (EDIA) Committee. Having been a staff member with the organization for six years, she’s seen firsthand the power of inclusion and is grateful that she can be an active participant in advocating on behalf of equity-seeking groups in the sport and physical activity ecosystem.
“I’m thankful for Sport for Life’s continuous support and their commitment to inclusion and accessibility. The combination of being a person with a disability and facing anti-Asian racism is a lot for me, and especially my mental health. I am excited to be part of this commitment to make a difference.”