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DLSPH Open: May is Asian Heritage Month

May 4/2022

Dear DLSPH Community,

May is Asian Heritage Month in Canada. This is a time to celebrate our Asian communities and cultures, but it’s also an opportunity to consider how we can all support our Asian friends, family members, and colleagues in the face of rising racism and discrimination.

Photo of Adalsteinn Brown with his arms crossed

Adalsteinn Brown
Professor and Dean

Tragically, levels of anti-Asian racism have increased since the start of COVID – a “shadow pandemic” according to U of T political scientist Diana Fu. In this excellent podcast, Prof. Fu points out that the problem shouldn’t be seen in a vacuum – its roots were always there, in the long history of anti-Asian racism and discrimination in Canada.

I’ve watched the pandemic bring out the best, most generous and self-sacrificing behaviours in people – including, of course, more people of Asian heritage than I could ever name. Unfortunately, the reverse is also true. We have witnessed the unjust and inaccurate blame of Asian peoples for the COVID pandemic. This will stand as a sad legacy of human cruelty and scapegoating at a time when the world needs unity.

As public health scholars and practitioners, I believe we have a particular duty to stand up to this injustice, and all forms of racism and discrimination. Increasingly, public health scholars are starting to understand the terrible impact that racism, discrimination and the fear of violence have on human health.

U of T offers excellent resources on how to be an effective ally when you witness abuse, racism or discrimination – and how to practice humility, and recognizing microaggressions in yourself.  I have taken and learned from these workshops, and encourage everyone to do the same.

For members of the Asian community, U of T’s Anti-Racism and Cultural Diversity Office is offering two sessions this month on Healing Through Art. And on May 27, the Hong Fook Mental Health Association will host Confronting Anti-Asian Racism: Tools, Strategies and Discussions. This session is open to all.

As we celebrate Asian Heritage Month, it’s important to remember that our obligation to educate ourselves about cultural competency, racism and discrimination, and the importance of acknowledging the contributions of our diverse communities, is year-long. Please join me in reflecting on what we can do to support our Asian colleagues and communities that have given so much to our School and society.


Adalsteinn (Steini) Brown
Professor and Dean
Dalla Lana School of Public Health