Australia’s minority communities ‘urgently need’ COVID-19 resources

Likely a similar need in Canada. Checking the Canada.ca site, there does not yet appear to be much in other languages as this Social Distancing example illustrates. Assume that the government’s roll-out of its public information campaign will include some targeted to ethnic media:

There are calls for the Federal Government not to forget Australia’s minority communities as it ramps up in-language communication about COVID-19.

Labor MP Julian Hill told SBS News on Thursday this should be an “urgent” matter for the government.

Mr Hill represents the multicultural electorate of Bruce located in southeast Melbourne where more than 200 languages are spoken.

He said a “complete lack of social distancing” at one market in his electorate showed health warnings were failing to reach many people.

“The government has to do more urgently to get material out in minority languages, that’s up to date and simple and clear,” he told SBS News.

“I’m particularly worried about some of the small newly-arrived communities that have not yet had the opportunity to develop proficient English language skills.”

The Federal Government has so far translated health guidelines detailing new rules and expectations in response to the virus in seven languages.

These translated materials can be found in Arabic, Vietnamese, Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese, Farsi, Italian, Korean and Greek.

The advice covers everything from washing your hands to explaining concepts like social distancing and self isolation to contain the contagion’s spread.

Jordan Pe is part of the Eastern Karen Community Association, which represents the ethnic minority native to south eastern Myanmar.

The ethnic group has long faced religious and ethnic persecution with their numbers in Australia totalling just over 5,000 at the most recent census.

Mr Pe told SBS News communicating rapidly changing messages in response to the pandemic without in-language help has been a challenge.

“It is hard – we can’t see anybody at the moment,” he said.

“People used to catch up in the church services – [now] it is only the phone communication we have to pass on information to them.”

Mr Pe said language barriers are more evident for older members in the community and others coming from a refugee background.

“If it’s not your first language – you read it and think how can I understand all that,” he said.

“[But] if someone can translate it into Karen on a national level – then we can explain it better to make sense to them.”

The Victorian Government has made fact sheets available in 48 languages, as state governments also attempt to pass on vital health information.

NSW, Western Australia, and Queensland have produced their own translated material too – while other jurisdictions refer to translating services and resources available from the Federal Government.

SBS has also launched a Multicultural Coronavirus Portal, where communities can access the latest news about the pandemic across 63 languages.

CEO of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia Mohammad Al-Khafaji told SBS News there is a pressing need to ensure newly arrived communities are kept informed.

“The challenge for the government is obviously how many languages do you translate these complex messages into –  there is always a limitation,” he said

“But hopefully this crisis will make policymakers take seriously the importance of including the new and emerging communities’ languages.”

Mr Al-Khafaji said these ethnic groups can’t always rely on the developed communication channels of more established communities.

“If government messages do not meet the needs of those communities that heavily rely on translated material and in-language programming, then those communities will rely on other sources,” he said.

Mr Al-Khafaji said “unfortunately” those sources are often not from Australia and may not meet the standards of our health advice.

The Department of Home Affairs has said it plans to distribute further information to “multicultural audiences through targeted print, radio and social media placements”.

The government has also conducted several meetings with community leaders regarding COVID-19 responses.

But Labor’s Julian Hill said more can and needs to be done.

“I’m really worried about what can happen if some of those communities are not getting the messages around social distancing and not getting the message about staying at home.”

Source: Australia’s minority communities ‘urgently need’ COVID-19 resources

Black stories. Black voices. Black spaces. This is media by and for Black Canadians

Ethnic media provides opportunities and opens doors:

Black-owned media helped shape the identity of CBC on-air personality Nana aba Duncan as a Black woman; it planted the early seeds for her foray into journalism.

“What would my life be like, if not for Share?” said Duncan, the host of Fresh Air on CBC Radio One.

“What would my life be like, if not for the Ghanaian News?”

As many of her peers of colour do, Duncan credits the city’s Black-owned media brands, for serving as a launch pad for budding journalists struggling to get hired by mainstream titles, and shaping the way Black stories are told, and also for serving as a bridge between the diaspora and its diverse countries of origin.

“I remember writing for the Ghanaian News,” said Duncan, who was born in Ghana.

“Seeing a Black face on the cover of Share is part of my experience. We need that.”

Duncan said Black-owned media is a key source of representation “to an under-represented group.

“It means that there is another voice.”

While brands such as Share, a newspaper of record serving the African and Caribbean community, have been around for decades, several newer entrants, such as ByBlacks.com and G 98.7 FM have recently taken up the mantle of telling the stories they say are typically ignored by mainstream media.

Strengthening Black representation in Canadian media was one of the motivations behind the creation of Roger and Camille Dundas’ ByBlacks.com.

After they launched the site about seven years ago, the couple quickly discovered that their readership is hungry for the stories they provide.

“The Black Canadian community is desperate for positive representations, positive reflections of themselves,” said Camille Dundas, the editor-in-chief.

“Mainstream media’s relationship with the Black community has, for the most part, been predatory, in the sense that they are very interested in the stories of our pain, of our suffering,” she said.

“They’re not so interested in the stories of our success.”

Having a hand in shaping how Black stories are told is critical, she said.

ByBlacks.com covers a little bit of everything relating to Black people in Canada, from business profiles to music reviews to opinion pieces.

One of ByBlacks.com’s most popular series was #BlackHistory365; throughout 2017, it shared a story daily about influential Black Canadians — people such as Carrie Best, who founded the first Black-owned newspaper in Nova Scotia in 1946; and Mathieu da Costa, who was the first-recorded free Black person in Canada and worked as a Mi’kmaq translator for European settlers. “I learned so much (more) in that one year than I ever did in school here in (any) one year, about Black Canadian history,” said Camille.

“Black people in Canada have for so long had to look to the U.S. for any type of positive reflection of (themselves),” she added.

“We wanted to create a space where we could do that for Black Canadians.”

Roger Dundas said they optimize their website diligently. They’re “ranked number one in Canada for Black online magazines,” based on Alexa.com rankings, he added. This makes them a suitable choice for ad clients seeking to reach Black audiences, such as TD Bank, the City of Toronto and Soulpepper Theatre. It’s been enough for ByBlacks.com to pay its writers and “keep the machine going.”

The Dundas’s goals for the near future are to grow their younger audience, cover more Black Canadians outside of Ontario and move their presence offline through events such as Essence Fest, a music festival and conference organized by the American magazine of the same name.

Roger Dundas wants to see Black Canadian titles to become more established, visible household names.

Sharine Taylor, 26, is betting on a boost in visibility for her brand, Bashy, a magazine by and for the Jamaican diaspora.

It’s focused on Afro-Jamaican content primarily.

Just more than 200,000 people in Toronto are of Jamaican descent, according to the last census.

But migration from a number of countries has a large influence on the Black Toronto experience.

“I find that people are often, whether subconsciously or not, trying to recreate feelings of home,” she said.

As a freelance writer, Taylor got tired of having to justify why her story pitches, which championed dancehall artists and Jamaican culture, would be well-received by the readership of the publications.

So she created her own title in 2016.

Bashy, gleaming and glossy, is still “very much a baby,” she said. A few issues have been published in print and in a digital format, and it has a website.

Taylor is able to offer writers honorariums and hopes to increase these.

She wants to offer Jamaican people around the world a positive representation of themselves, as told by them. “I no longer want a seat at the table; I want to dictate who’s in the room.

“I want to create the space that I aspire to be a part of,” she said.

Veteran newsprint journalist, Ron Fanfair, who has written for Share News since 1986, is optimistic about the future of titles such as ByBlacks.com and Bashy.

He said Black-owned and managed print entities, such as Share News and Contrast newspaper, were beacons of hope for budding journalists in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, as they saw them as stepping stones to mainstream titles.

“They gave me an opportunity and without that opportunity, who knows what would’ve happened,” he said.

Donovan Vincent, now a Toronto Star reporter, wrote for Share, and Royson James, an eminent Black columnist for the Star, wrote for Contrast, which was conceived in the 1960s, as the “eyes, ears and voice of Canada’s Black Community.”

James said Contrast “was like a community centre. That’s where we all came together.”

Jojo Chinto, who went on to work for CityTV, was an editor for Contrast.

Media catering to a Black audience is key to shaping the landscape of how Black stories are told, he said.

“Share was the one that stood out for me, because they were telling the stories you weren’t seeing in the mainstream media.”

Fanfair said Afro-centric newspapers have consistently profiled both social issues and pioneering Black people in an uplifiting way.

“Stories about our young people doing well are the ones I enjoy doing, and you won’t see those stories in the mainstream media,” he said.

Share, as most newspapers have, has been hit by a decline in advertising dollars. The once weekly paper is now only published twice per month.

Fanfair is concerned about the dearth of new-media Black-owned brands, even with new online outlets, such as ByBlacks.com, emerging.

“I hope we can see more publications come to the service of telling those positive stories,” he said.

Delford Blythe, part-owner of G98.7 FM, a radio station geared toward the Afro-Canadian diaspora, said titles have to be prepared to evolve..

“There’s lots of room, so we should come up with interesting channels (podcasts), for people to listen to,” he said. “We have to anticipate change and be ready to deal with it.”

The times have certainly changed from when Denham Jolly fought to get the first Black-owned station, Flow 93.5 FM, on the air, in 2001.

Black music, culture and stories are now more widely accepted and appeal more broadly, Blythe said.

“From a Black-owned perspective, I don’t see a threat; I see an opportunity, because more diversity in Toronto makes our message acceptable,” he said.

“The younger generation is into different experiences and different cultures.”

Blythe said in the ’90s, Black media brands weren’t seen as viable places for advertisers to promote their goods and services.

Now major brands endorse diversity.

“We don’t have the same type of barrier …,” he said. “It’s now about performing, so they can see the value, so we can bring them in.”

He recalled the concept of a dedicated Black-owned radio station was still a lofty goal in the ’90s, and Afro-Canadian newsprint served as the key source of content for the diaspora.

“We got our news from Share, and, earlier on, Contrast,” he said. “We used to look for them dropping on the newsstand.”

Source: Black stories. Black voices. Black spaces. This is media by and for Black Canadians

Ethnic media’s coverage of Canada’s federal election closely mirrors mainstream press

Coverage of my analysis:

An analysis of how ethnic media covered the federal election suggests their approach mirrored that of the mainstream press, findings the study’s author says highlight a key point about the so-called “ethnic vote” in Canada.

“One can’t assume nor should one assume that the ethnic vote in Canada is separate than the mainstream vote,” said Andrew Griffith, a former director of multiculturalism policy for the federal government.

Griffith undertook the analysis as part of an election effort called Diversity Votes, a project aimed at providing a deeper understanding of the ethnocultural makeup of the electoral map, and its implications.

The growing diversity of the Canadian electorate has seen the federal parties finding more ways to woo voters in specific ethnic groups, especially in ridings where single communities have enough voters to swing a race.

In the 2019 campaign, that took the form of everything from promises targeted directly to certain communities, ads in a variety of languages and, in a first, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh answering questions in Punjabi, which he speaks fluently.

But Griffith said that despite what the campaigns may have been trying to do, his findings show the ethnic press were covering the same issues as the mainstream media.

Ethics, relations with China and climate change were widely covered, as were the parties’ strategies and tactics, which he said was partially a reflection of the use of translated stories from the English or French press.

The Liberals and the Conservatives received equal coverage throughout the campaign. Before the race began in earnest in September, the People’s Party of Canada, along with its controversial positions on multiculturalism and immigration, received more coverage than the Greens or the NDP.

The NDP finally got a boost after the first English-language debate, where Singh was praised for his performance.

Singh’s candidacy marked a milestone in Canadian politics, as he is the first visible minority leader of a major political party. Still, Griffith said that Punjabi-language outlets, as well as those serving the Punjabi community in places like Singh’s home base of Brampton, Ont., focused far more on the local campaigns overall.

The 2019 election saw an increase of visible-minority candidates, with the biggest rise coming from the NDP.

In 2015, according to Griffith, 13 per cent of their candidates were visible minorities, and that rose to 22.9 per cent in 2019.

The number of ridings where visible minorities represented 50 per cent or more of the population rose from 33 per cent in 2015 to 41 per cent in 2019, according to census data he analysed. [Note: 33 ridings to 41 ridings, not percent.]

Griffith’s review of media coverage examined 2,500 stories in outlets representing a variety of different language groups, as well as publications in English that cater nearly exclusively to specific communities.

The goal was to assess whether someone relying exclusively on the ethnic media would have a comparable understanding of the issues to those who rely on mainstream news outlets, and the research suggested they would.

“In other words, rather than ethnic media providing a parallel and separate space and reinforcing silos, ethnic media for the most part serves an important role in political integration through its coverage of the main political issues common to all Canadians,” the analysis concluded.

Source: Ethnic media’s coverage of Canada’s federal election closely mirrors mainstream press

My report: Ethnic media 2019 Election Coverage: Commonalities and Differences

A Chinese-owned channel is broadcasting forced confessions on Canadian TV’s. A human rights group says it should stop

Sigh….

Chinese state-run media available in Canada has been broadcasting forced confessions from people detained by mainland China authorities, alleges an international human rights group calling for Ottawa to punish those responsible.

Safeguard Defenders, a human rights organization based in Hong Kong and Europe, filed a complaint with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. It is calling on the federal government to use so-called Magnitsky legislation to punish those responsible for broadcasting the confessions.

“We believe that the violations are severe enough that their licence should be pulled,” said Peter Dahlin, executive director of Safeguard Defenders, whose own forced confession was run on Chinese television in 2016 after he’d been detained for more than three weeks.

The target of the complaint is China Global Television Network, an international television station based in China and owned by the Chinese government. The network is available in Canada via digital service.

Dahlin said that over the past five years, Chinese state-run media has broadcast nearly 100 forced confessions from prisoners, and about half of them have been broadcast into Canada. He says this is a violation of broadcast standards.

He said when British broadcast regulators began investigating CGTN for the practice in May, such broadcasts stopped for a time.

Dahlin also wants Canada to sanction Chinese television journalist Dong Qian and the former president of China Central Television, which oversees CGTN, Nie Chenxi, for their part in producing and airing the confessions.

The sanctions would be under the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials act, also known as the Magnitsky law. Dahlin said pressure from Canadian regulators can go a long way in stopping such confessions from happening because the chance they could lose their broadcast licence is real.

“This is not about censoring Chinese media,” he said. “We do believe China should be held to the same standards as everyone else.”

Dahlin said he is surprised Canadian regulators hadn’t already taken the issue up themselves.

He said the confessions are often obtained through coercion or even torture, noting two brothers, one a Canadian citizen, Chen Zhiheng and Chen Zhiyu, both had confessions broadcast in which they admitted to forgery.

Dahlin said his organization believes were it not for the investigation by the United Kingdom last year, both Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, two Canadians detained in China for more than a year, would have had confessions broadcast by now.

“It is almost certain both Michaels would have been on TV attacking the Canadian government and being used as a foreign policy tool,” Dahlin said. “That’s how powerful these kind of administrative regulatory bodies can be.”

Spavor and Kovrig were arrested in December last year, shortly after Canadian authorities detained Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of China-based tech giant Huawei, on a request from the United States. The arrest of the two men in China is widely regarded as retaliation against Canada for arresting Meng.

At the time, Dahlin shared his own story of detention with Star Vancouver. He said he was held in a padded room with two guards he wasn’t allowed to speak to, able to hear other prisoners being beaten.

He was released and deported after being manipulated into a taped confession that was broadcast on Chinese state-run television.

Source: A Chinese-owned channel is broadcasting forced confessions on Canadian TV’s. A human rights group says it should stop

New Zealand is a far more multicultural place today – its mainstream media is not

Similar issues in Canada and some interesting info regarding their ethnic media:

Let’s start with a test, about references to Indian people in the news. Last year, an Indian Naval crew completed the first-ever circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women team, in about eight months. They had a scheduled stop-over (one of only four worldwide) in Lyttelton, Christchurch, for over two weeks in 2017. They were facilitated by the Mayor, ministers, local MPs, and the wider community.

Such a great, inspiring story for women around the world, and in New Zealand, right? But I’m sure a majority of you are reading about it in New Zealand media for the first time. By contrast, stories about the Kiwi-Indian Christchurch GP Rakesh Chawdhry, who in 2018, was found guilty of sex offences against his patients, are hard to miss. His case was, and is, extensively reported by all mainstream New Zealand media.

No one can – or should – question a newsroom’s editorial judgement on what to cover, and what not to cover on an individual story basis. But editors, and even more importantly, owners, must realise that journalism is a business with public interest at its core. And that ‘public’ in New Zealand has changed, and is now more multicultural than ever.

Recently released Census 2018 figures tell us that almost 30% of the country’s population is non-European now. If we just take the three main Asian ethnicities – Chinese, Indians, and Filipinos – two-thirds of whom live in Auckland, they make up about 25 percent of the city’s population. Nationwide, there are more than 700,000 people of Asian descent living in New Zealand.

And to my mind, the recent financial struggles of mainstream New Zealand media are partly due to a failure to acknowledge, appreciate and cater to anyone except the majority community. Apart from a token mention of celebrations such as Diwali and Chinese Lantern Festival, any coverage of multicultural communities tends to invariably be negative, if they get a mention at all.

I dare say that a business that ignores a quarter of New Zealand’s only big city – especially a business that runs on public trust and goodwill – is a recipe for financial failure. The same argument applies to the rest of the country.

I am not for a moment denying the two main reasons being put forward for the struggles of commercial media. The dominance of Google and Facebook in terms of digital advertising revenues, and the subsidisation of state-owned media organisations in New Zealand.

But it is worth adding that ignoring 30% of the population is a third and equally important reason. Google, Facebook, RNZ and TVNZ are not going anywhere, any time soon. So this third reason is really the only one within our control.

A question might be asked – ‘why should we cater to these communities, they don’t matter financially?’ This assumption is incorrect, on two counts. There is a difference in income levels – per NZ Stats June 2019 quarter figures, European median weekly income ($1,060) is almost $100 more than Asian ($959.) But this gap is reducing every year. This is partly due to the aspirational nature, and emphasis on achieving social mobility through education, in the multicultural communities.

Secondly, due to discrimination in securing a job in the New Zealand market, many migrants turn to entrepreneurship. The salaried class doesn’t bring in the same advertising revenues as the business class. So migrant businesses are where some significant untapped advertising dollars are sitting.

Don’t believe me? Attend a Meet the Press programme, which the Indian High Commission in New Zealand regularly organises. I went to one recently held in Auckland. There were more than 10 Indian-origin media organisations present – including print, radio and digital – which report in English, Hindi, Punjabi, and Gujarati, among others. There is a similar number for the local Chinese-origin media. We also have some Filipino, Korean, and Japanese publications across the country. And this number has only grown over the last decade or so.

Clearly, communities are sustaining all these publications.

Hence, the market, the audience, the stories, and the business, is all there for someone who is able to appreciate the changing nature of New Zealand, and is willing to change with it.

Mainstream news media in New Zealand is struggling because, as one CEO said, consumer behaviour is changing. What he failed to say was that the consumer itself is changing. The emerging consumer is is young, urban, earning – and increasingly multicultural.

Source: New Zealand is a far more multicultural place today – its mainstream media is not

Ethnic media election coverage 29 October to November 3

Latest weekly analysis of ethnic media coverage. For the analytical narrative, go to Ethnic media election coverage 29 October to 3 November:

 

This is the last of the weekly analyses. The complete set can be found at: Ethnic Media Coverage.

I will be working on a summary report over the next few weeks regarding the close to 2,500 articles monitored 20 July to 3 November, building upon my pre-writ analysis in Policy Options, How does ethnic media campaign coverage differ?.

Ethnic media election coverage 21-28 October

Latest weekly analysis of ethnic media coverage. For the analytical narrative, go to Ethnic media election coverage 21-28 October:

Extreme-right misinformation is flooding Chinese media in Canada and observers say there’s virtually nothing stopping it

Ongoing:

Some of the posts suggest teaching sexual and gender identity in schools could cause an AIDS outbreak. Others warn Mexicans are streaming across the border to sell drugs or that hatred against Muslims is only natural. The articles are called misinformation by some and flat out hate speech by others.

They are but a sampling of the far-right rhetoric on Chinese-language websites and social media platforms like WeChat, often described as a cross between Facebook and Twitter. Observers warn that there’s almost nothing challenging a torrent of anti-refugee, anti-LGBT and anti “white liberal” literature spiking online.

“When this privileged group settled down in Canada, they will have an easy life without evening finding a job,” reads one article touching on Muslim refugees when discussing Chinese voters. It was written by contributor Feng Si Hai on Chinese-language news publication Lahoo.ca. in March 2019.

“What’s more, some of them could make trouble, break the law and even harm a child. It is natural that hatred toward them will arise. The religious conflicts will make the situation worse. How could our society be peaceful?!” reads the article.

Such sentiments have also popped up in Chinese political organizations and churches, according to community members. They worry that barriers to truthful information combined with conservative politics are leading to the exploitation of Chinese people by far-right elements and could hamper the ability of Chinese people in Canada to make informed decisions.

There are votes to be gained as Canadian political parties reach out to immigrants, and Chinese voters are one of the largest pools.

Chinese people represent about 20 per cent of minorities in Canada, according to Statistics Canada, with hundreds of thousands living in Vancouver and Toronto alone. In those cities, some ridings are more than 50 per cent Chinese.

They are increasingly being courted by far right content or outright misinformation created by writers who often use pen names.

For example, Feng, who has also written that a child being proud of having two mothers is a “scorn on human ethics,” is not the writer’s real name. In an interview with Star Vancouver, Lahoo editor-in-chief Lao Mai said Feng is a real person writing under a pen name for protection.

But prior to Lao’s explanation, other staff at the publication said Feng was actually a floating pen name used by a number of people. In the interview Lao insisted that isn’t the case and underlined he and his staff don’t necessarily agree with the opinions written.

“We have that freedom of speech,” Lao said through an interpreter.

In Feng’s 2019 column about voting, it’s alleged Justin Trudeau ignored the case of 13-year-old Marrisa Shen, whose body was found in a park in Burnaby in July 2017. In September 2018, a Syrian refugee, Ibrahim Ali, was charged in her death.

In January 2018 an 11-year-old girl in Toronto told police she had been attacked by an Asian man with scissors who cut off her hijab. Justin Trudeau tweeted his condemnation of the attack. Police investigated the alleged incident and determined that the events did not happen. The family of the girl who made the false claims later apologized.

Feng’s column accuses Trudeau of caring more about the Muslim girl in Toronto than he did about the Shen murder because Muslims vote more than Chinese people.

Lao said the article is being misinterpreted and it’s really just meant to encourage Chinese people to vote. He said that when columns by Feng are submitted, they believe what he writes and don’t feel the need to fact check them.

Lahoo also publishes straight news pieces and Feng is just one columnist, but the internet is flooded with Chinese-language misinformation from a number of sources.

Back in May, Chauncey Jung, a contributor for website SupChina, who once interned for the Liberal Party and has written about the issue, said there has been a steady increase of false news or misinformation in Toronto since the story about the Muslim girl who claimed to be have been attacked broke in 2018.

Chinese articles on WeChat raged against the girl and against Trudeau for tweeting his response to the incident before police said they had determined that the attack did not happen. But the incident caused a spike in “pure hate speech” written in Chinese, Jung said.

The tension was made worse later in the year when Ali was arrested and charged with Shen’s murder. His court appearance in Vancouver brought anti-refugee protests by demonstrators carrying Chinese signs.

Jung said it’s not just Muslims who are targeted. He said he’s seen stories on WeChat alleging hundreds of Mexican drug dealers are flooding into Canada since Ottawa stopped requiring visas for Mexicans and others claiming that Toronto police want to get children hooked on drugs.

“It’s going to be challenging for people who don’t have the access to the actual information,” he said. “If you don’t speak English, that’s going to be a barrier, if you don’t like to read things in English, that’s another barrier there.”

Kevin Huang of Vancouver’s Hua Foundation, an organization aimed at bridging cultural gaps between Chinese and other communities, said not only is there an increasing amount of Chinese-language misinformation targeting immigrants and other minorities, but nothing is in place to counter it.

“People are usually just overwhelmed by the fact this exists and not at a stage where we’re about to design and or think about how to counter,” he says.

Much of it stems from a history of Chinese voters being “ruled by fear” Huang said, adding that politicians and the media often use scare tactics to dissuade Chinese voters from supporting their opponents rather than presenting a positive alternative.

The 2015 election was full of it, he said.

“The literature was fear mongering attacks on Trudeau, prostitution, needles,” Huang said. “Is our community in general really only about just being fearful of these things?”

Huang says one possible solution would be for governments to distribute information in more languages than just English and French. If more government materials were written in languages like Chinese, those who speak it as a first language would at least have access to basic, credible information, he said.

“No one’s engaging them except for ‘do your taxes and fill out these forms for your benefits,’ ” Huang said.

One man in Surrey, B.C., isn’t waiting for the government to pitch in.

“Fake news brings people to the wrong direction; prejudice and hate,” says Jacky Jiao after tidying up a picnic table in a Surrey park before sitting down to talk, condemning whoever left it a mess. “Few people think, they just follow others.”

When he’s not scrubbing picnic tables, the real estate agent and immigration consultant is cleaning up the internet. Jiao says he spends about 15 hours a week on WeChat motoring through Chinese language media and writing articles debunking false information.

WeChat has become the premier source of information for Chinese people around the world and Jiao says that often misinformation from other countries, like the United States and United Kingdom, is spun to fit the Canadian narrative.

Much of what appears on WeChat is published elsewhere and simply shared there, similar to Twitter. Often the articles contain false figures such as the number of refugees allowed into Canada each year, he says.

Jiao says his attempts to combat the misinformation or far-right rhetoric online have led to a lot of pushback.

“In WeChat groups, I get a lot of attacks,” he says. “A lot of people are Trump fans. They always think right is right. They can’t distinguish the right and the extreme right.”

Jiao says the courting of the far right via Chinese social media happens at a time when similar efforts are being made through churches in Canada. Chinese immigrants hold Christianity in high regard, he says, reasoning that many of the world’s developed countries have Christianity as a dominant religion.

As a result, many are curious about the religion and become involved in churches, and some of those churches have strong views against homosexuality or taxes, says Jiao.

Combined with the misinformation and right wing columns on WeChat, he said it makes some in the Chinese community ripe fruit for the far right to pluck.

But even if WeChat didn’t exist, the far-right politics are hosted by other websites and the messaging would still seep through.

In 2018, a consortium of Chinese activists in Vancouver and Toronto formed the Let’s Vote Association, a group with a website in Chinese and English encouraging people to vote for right-wing candidates in federal, provincial and municipal elections.

The organization was in the news when some municipal candidates decried the endorsements in B.C. last year. It hasn’t made any endorsements on its website this year.

One of its founding directors is Yali Trost, sister in law of Brad Trost, who ran unsuccessfully for leader of the Conservative Party in 2017 and lost a nomination challenge for the riding he held in Saskatchewan last year. He is not running this year and told Star Vancouver he has no knowledge of or participation in his sister in law’s activities. Most of the association’s directors have donated to Trost’s political campaigns in the past, according to Elections Canada information.

The association’s main page features a link to a petition opposing the Vancouver suburb of Richmond’s plan to install a rainbow crosswalk, an initiative undertaken by many cities to support the LGBTQ community. Other articles praise Donald Trump, champion religious freedom and question the legitimacy of refugees.

Their electoral recommendations in the past have included evangelical Christian radio show host and People’s Party of Canada candidate Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson, as well as Heather Leung, who was dropped as a candidate by the Conservatives earlier this month when a 2011 video of her making statements against the LGBTQ community resurfaced.

In the video, Leung says homosexuals are “perverted” and trying to “recruit” children because they cannot procreate.

In early September, according to her website, Leung went door knocking in her riding with Lindsay Shepherd, a controversial figure and free speech advocate criticized in the past for arranging an appearance by Faith Goldy, the white nationalist who ran for mayor of Toronto, at Laurier University.

Leung is still running as an independent and her campaign manager is Travis Trost, Yali Trost’s husband and Brad Trost’s brother.

Leung did not respond to Star Vancouver’s attempts to contact her, including a letter outlining what the interview would be about delivered to her home, outside of the Burnaby North-Seymour riding.

Star Vancouver requested the financial details of the Let’s Vote Association in accordance with the B.C. Societies Act.

As per the official process, Star Vancouver filed a request to the B.C. corporate registry asking that they compel the Let’s Vote Association to release the information. In a letter to Star Vancouver through the registry, the society said it would not release the information because it had not yet completed its accounting.

“Many immigrants to Canada and especially Chinese Canadians are reluctant to involve themselves in the political process in Canada because of bad experiences they have had overseas,” reads the letter, which goes on to accuse Star Vancouver of making them fearful.

But last October Yali Trost, a Vancouver resident according to Let’s Vote’s society information, involved herself in the political process physically when she got into an altercation with Burnaby School Board trustee candidate Larry Hayes after an all-candidates debate in a school gymnasium. According to Vancouver radio station News1130, Trost said she was confronting Hayes for calling another candidate an “idiot.”

A video posted to Laura Lynn Tyler Thompson’s Facebook page shows Hayes trying to push past Trost as she stands in front of him while holding a baby when he tries to leave the venue before she shoves him back. The police were called. The debate itself was shut down due to yelling from attendees protesting the province’s Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity program in public schools.

Attempts to contact Yali Trost through the Let’s Vote Association were unsuccessful.

As Canada barrels toward its election Monday the affect the push by the far right could have on the Chinese community isn’t yet known, but observers are concerned what a sustained campaign could mean down the road.

Huang said politicians don’t make enough of an effort to conduct meaningful engagement with Canada’s Chinese communities. It seems politicians are only interested in stopping by for Lunar New Year banquets, he said, leaving a void that is filled by the far right.

The responsibility rests not just with Chinese people to speak up, Huang said, but with politicians who need to take the trend of misinformation seriously.

“Don’t treat our community as if we’re just being ruled by fear,” he said. “Lead us. Show us that we want to vote for you because you believe in the same values I do.”

Source: Extreme-right misinformation is flooding Chinese media in Canada and observers say there’s virtually nothing stopping it

Ethnic media election coverage 13-20 October

Latest weekly analysis of ethnic media coverage. For the analytical narrative, go to Ethnic media election coverage 13-20 October:

Ethnic media election coverage 7-12 October

Latest weekly analysis of ethnic media coverage. For the analytical narrative, go to Ethnic media election coverage 7-12 October: