Rita Wong Statement

Asian women, like other women of colour and First Nations women, experience many forms of ongoing racialized violence. Racism and sexism continue to operate in many contemporary forms, ranging from economic systems that devalue our labour and displace many women so that they are forced to leave their home communities in order to survive, to the brutal violence that took Wei Amanda Zhao's life.

I mourn for Wei Amanda Zhao. I mourn for the countless women who have been attacked and murdered. I mourn for the many First Nations women who have been murdered, and I urge those of us who are in the Asian community to understand that racism and sexism are deadly, and that they continue to kill. We need to assert that all women's lives are valuable, are worth respect, and deserve to be honoured. It is not acceptable for any woman's life to be dismissed or ignored because of her race, or her marginalized position in society, or what she does to survive or make a living. 

We need to make the connections between the attacks on Asian women in the Lower mainland with the attacks on First Nations women in the downtown eastside. Race continues to play a factor in how women are perceived as easy targets for violence. Different men are acting out the racist and sexist ideas that devalue our lives. 

Racism and sexism can be deadly. At the same time that we, as women, refuse to accept this violence, the onus also lies with men to stop the violence against women. 

Furthermore, the RCMP needs to value the lives of First Nations women and Asian women. So do our laws. Canada's immigration legislation structurally devalues skills and abilities which are gendered as "female" -- through mechanisms such as the Live-in Caregiver program and the point system, many women of colour are defined by the immigration system in ways which put them at a disadvantage before they even enter the country. Many people have said to me that if sixty white women had disappeared from a university campus, there would be have been an investigation into those missing women much earlier. The pattern of some lives being valued more than others is absolutely unacceptable. The double standard of investigation needs to stop. 

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Direct Action Against Refugee Exploitation was formed in solidarity with Fujianese women who arrived by ship to the aboriginal land known as Canada in 1999.