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Do the numbers really tell us Vancouver is the ‘anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America?’

October 20, 2021

By Vancouver Sun |

It’s hardly the reputation Vancouver, or any city, would want.

But in May some of the world’s largest media outlets dubbed Vancouver, which has about 700,000 residents of mixed ethnicities, the “anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America.”

The focus of the articles, which were picked up by Canadian outlets , was on a Vancouver police report that showed anti-East Asian hate crimes had risen a startling 717 per cent in 2020 from the year earlier.

The total number of anti-East Asian hate incidents the Vancouver Police Department’s special unit collected for 2020, the year in which COVID-19 hit, was 98. That compared to 12 the year before.

Global outlets such as Bloomberg , The Guardian and others then compared the Vancouver police numbers to some large Canadian and U.S. cities, and concluded that there had been more incidents in this West Coast city than any of the other cities.

Thus, the media outlets labelled Vancouver: “The anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America.”

In August, British Columbia’s human rights commissioner extended the designation to all of B.C. Kasari Govender launched a public inquiry to uncover why “this province continues to report the most hate-motivated incidents per capita in North America .”

What is the reality?

A Vancouver police hate crimes unit member offered a wide range of thoughts on the disturbing claim, and on the many complexities of collecting comparable hate-crime statistics .

Sgt. Valerie Spicer, a 22-year veteran, has been with the city’s hate crimes unit for four years. Spicer’s email signature identifies her pronouns as “she/her” and acknowledges working on First Nations’ “unceded traditional territories.”

Spicer has long been appalled by hate crimes, of all kinds. And her unit has for years been urging more residents to report incidents to police because they’re concerned many do not.

She points out Vancouver is the only city with a dedicated hate-crimes unit in British Columbia.

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