What is Asian Canadian?
The term “Asian Canadian” is used here to encompass our local communities whose origins stem from Asia (including East, South, Southeast and West Asia). However, we acknowledge that not all such communities self-identify using this term. There is no single “Asian” community in Canada, nor is there some natural affinity between people who are migrants from Asia, nor between descendants of earlier migrants from across the Pacific. The term “Asian Canadian” is a recognition of 1) a long and continuous history of anti-Asian racism and discrimination in Canada that has lumped different peoples together as “Asiatics” or “Orientals” to be systematically excluded and deprived of privileges reserved for European migrants, and 2) the recurring potential for those who have shared parallel experiences in Canada to create social and political ties as communities.
A new Canada has emerged over the last half century that has been re-shaped demographically, economically, politically, and socially by trans-Pacific linkages to Asia. The crux of this re-shaping has been increased trans-Pacific migration and the rise of a complex spectrum of communities that might loosely be termed “Asian Canadian.” We use the term “Asian Canadian” to refer, therefore, not to a pre-existing category of people, but as a way of acknowledging the ways in which diverse migrant communities within Canada have forged meaningful, dynamic, and complex connections both in Canada and across the Pacific.