While lined up at a well-known supermarket chain in Regina, Canada to pay for their groceries, Filipino Nico Inocalla and his family members were subjected to racial slurs by a fellow customer, an incident that attests to the rising anti-Asian attacks in Canada borne about by the outbreak of the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic.
“I’m just hoping that it doesn’t happen to anyone. We’re not the virus, we’re humans, too,” Inocalla told the Canadian news site, CBC in an interview published on Feb. 26 (Feb. 27 in the Philippines).
Inocalla narrated that he, along with his brother and sister-in-law, had just finished their groceries inside the Costco warehouse club and were standing on a lane to pay when they noticed a man staring at them.
While they tried to ignore him and just chatted with each other, the man reportedly started yelling at them, telling them to keep socially distanced from each other to at least six feet apart.
“I politely explained to him that we are on the right spot, following the rules, and are exactly where we are supposed to be,” Inocalla said.
Despite that, Inocalla said the man continued to verbally accost them saying we don’t understand what we’re doing because “we are Asians.”
It was then an argument ensued until the store supervisors intervened and tried to pacify the man telling him to stop bothering the Inocallas since they are correctly obeying the health protocols.
According to Inocalla, the store supervisors as well as some customers even apologized to them for the bigoted actuation of the man.
“I can’t even hear anything from that moment. I was shocked, I can’t believe that would happen to us. I was minding my own business, chatting with my brother and my sister-in-law but he wants us farther away from him as if we are sick. He was murmuring different derogatory words which I’m not gonna mention. I was about to cry honestly, during that time,” he spoke in a taped interview posted by CBC on its podcast.
The case of the Inocallas did not surprise many as reports published as early as September last year showed that Canada has more anti-Asian hate incidents per capita than the United States.
In its report, the Chinese-Canadian National Council for Social Justice said up to 600 anti-Asian incidents have been recorded in seven Canadian provinces since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the early part of 2020.
In entire Canada, it noted that British Columbia has the most reported incidents per capita with women more disproportionately impacted, accounting for nearly 70 percent of all reported incidents.
It added that verbal abuse and harassment are widespread, occurring in 65 percent of all reported incidents, which includes racial slurs, threats, and derogatory remarks.
Approximately 30 percent of the reported incidents are assault, including targeted coughing, spitting, and physical attacks, and violence.
Last year in Vancouver, a video showed an unidentified female shoved a 61-year-old Filipina woman against her car without provocation.
On Feb. 18, British Columbia Premier John Horgan released a report showing what he described as a “deeply troubling” surge of hate crimes against Asians in Vancouver.
“Today’s crime stats from Vancouver show anti-Asian hate crimes are up 717% over the past year. This is deeply troubling,” Horgan said in a tweet.