‘We’re not seen’: Project 1907 gives Asian Canadians a space to share their stories


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Eileen Park said she couldn’t keep quiet anymore about anti-Asian hate, and a grassroots movement in Vancouver hopes Asian Canadians do the same.

Park, an Asian American, recently married former Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson, with the news getting a multi-page spread in Vogue. She posted a powerful video to Facebook on Sunday, describing how along with congratulations, she also faced “an avalanche of anti-Asian hate” because of the interracial marriage.

“For too long, Asian women all over the world like me have had to keep quiet and eat our own bitterness. And I just can’t keep quiet anymore,” Park said in the video.

Related article: ‘Avalanche of anti-Asian hate’ after Vogue feature on former Vancouver mayor’s wedding

Barbara Lee speaks for Elimin8hate, which is working with the Vancouver Asian Film Festival Society (VAFF). Part of this partnership includes Project 1907, which provides an online tool where people can report their experiences. The goal is to use the data collected through these reports to advocate for policy and strategies that will effectively combat racism and discrimination.

“We feel that a part of the reason why we’re always seen as foreigners is because we’re not seen. Our stories aren’t shared,” she said.

The project is accessible in six Asian languages, including Tagalog, Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Korean.

“We don’t want to take space from other communities of colour — Black, Indigenous, and other peoples of colour. We want to bring everyone together and have solidarity and have a common way to work with each other to make sure that we’re all heard,” she added.

Project 1907 was named after an anti-immigration rally that took place in 1907, which exploded into three days of violence and vandalism in Vancouver’s Chinatown and Japantown.

News of Park and Robertson’s marriage went public same week as killings in Atlanta

Word of Park’s marriage to Robertson went public the same week a white man was charged with killing eight people at three massage parlours around Atlanta, Georgia. Six of them were Asian women.

The attack has sent terror through the Asian community across North America, which has increasingly been targeted during the coronavirus pandemic. Asian women have shared stories of being sexually harassed or demeaned, drawing attention to harmful stereotypes about Asian women rooted in racism and sexism.

“Despite an unprecedented dialogue happening right now about the dire consequences of hypersexualizing Asian women, I was bombarded with hate-filled messages,” Park said in her video.

“The amount of disgusting DMs and mentions I got as a result made me ill. The fetishization of Asian women is racist. Why? Because it dehumanizes and targets us.”

Park had a career as a journalist before she worked as the communications director for the mayor of Portland, a position she held when she met Robertson.

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In her video, she outlines some of the sexualized racism she endured when she had a professional role in municipal government.

“Wherever I went, whoever I stood next to at an event — especially if it was a male colleague — rumours would start. I must be sleeping with that person. How could someone who looks like me not be? That assumption right there is racist. Why? Because of the long history of hypersexualizing Asian women,” she says, adding local media amplified these rumours and investigated them while refusing to engage with Park herself when she tried to refute them.

“This should come as no surprise, my white male predecessors did not receive the same treatment while doing the same job. As a woman of colour in senior leadership, those types of unfounded rumours — they permanently damage a woman’s credibility and reputation.”

-With files from OMNI News

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