Asian Heritage Month has been celebrated across Canada since the 1990s and was officially recognized by the federal government in May 2002. Every year at this time, CUPE celebrates the contributions that members of Asian communities have made to Canada.

We acknowledge and honour the activism of people of Asian descent in their fight for human rights and social justice. Their ongoing struggles against multiple forms of oppression have been instrumental in strengthening our labour movement and our communities.

Some of those struggles included resistance against the Chinese Exclusion Act and the Head Tax; the denial of the right to vote or to run for public office; the exploitation of Chinese railway workers; the internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War; and the Komagata Maru incident which led to challenges to the federal government’s racist “continuous journey regulation.” These struggles are historical, but anti-Asian racism is still present today.

For Asian Heritage Month, we encourage members to build on these past struggles and take action against discrimination and oppression today.

Learn

  • Learn about how caregivers in Canada organized, raised their voices and scored a big win with Canada’s two new five-year caregiver immigration pilots programs. Introduced in February 2019, these pilots offer open work permits, so caregivers can change employers quickly when necessary, and provide a pathway for permanent residency after two years as a caregiver. Still, barriers remain. CUPE and migrant worker organizations continue to call on the federal government to provide permanent resident status upon arrival, to provide stability and put an end to precarity for migrant workers.
  • Register for CUPE’s workshops on human rights and challenging racism to develop the skills and perspectives needed to build a stronger, more inclusive union. Read descriptions of CUPE Education workshops and look for workshops near you on our workshop calendar.

Organize

  • Ensure that labour legislation in Canada recognizes and protects all migrant workers through genuine labour standards such as living wages, safe and healthy working conditions and basic human rights.

Act

  • Sign the online petition calling on the federal government amend Bill C-59, the National Security Act of 2017, to put an end to the troubling new security and surveillance powers that place racialized people at risk.
  • Celebrate Asian Heritage Month within your local – share on social media, organize lunch-and-learns and screen videos.