Featured Nursing

“We are stronger together:” A reflection on Asian Heritage Month

Written by Alexis Dobranowski

Bing Xu emigrated from China to Canada in 2002, joining her husband who had arrived in late 2000. Landing first in Halifax, they both went back to university. After finishing a computer science degree in China and working for several years in that field, Bing wanted to pursue a career in Canada that she thought she’d love: nursing.

“I wanted to learn more and to help people,” she recalls.

She says they were greeted with a warm east coast welcome.

“I was at first afraid to answer the phone when it rang, worried about the language barrier,” Bing said, “but people were so friendly and made us feel so welcome. People smiled on the street; people invited us for Christmas.”

Bing is now a nurse practitioner in Sunnybrook’s Schulich Heart Program. Her experience, she says, has been very different to that of some Chinese people in Canada, particularly in recent years when reports indicate that incidence of anti-Asian racism has been on the rise.

“I have personally not experienced this and for that I am so grateful,” Bing said. “But we have all heard about these hate crimes, particularly against Chinese people. And these are often violent and partially motivated by COVID-19 pandemic and the fact the illness was first identified in China.”

After learning of the brutal killing of six Asian women in an Atlanta spa last March, Bing and her husband wondered how to speak to their three children about the issue of anti-Asian hate.

“Our children are Canadian. They were born here and have lived here their whole lives. But they too could be victims of anti-Asian racism. So, we spoke to them about how this is a risk for them because of their skin and their culture. And that we have to stand up together against this.”

The family decided they would go together to a Stop Anti-Asian Racism rally held last March in Nathan Phillips Square. They made signs, which they also shared with their neighbours, and made the trek downtown — where they were greeted with a sea of support.

Bing and her family at a Stop Anti-Asian Racism rally in Toronto in March 2021.

“It was a rainy day and hundreds of people came out. People from all backgrounds and cultures, all in support of Asian communities. It was a great reminder for us all that we are stronger together. We too have to stand up for other communities who suffer from racism and acts of hatred.”

Bing says Asian Heritage Month provides an opportunity to celebrate diversity and to learn and support each other— something she says she’s felt throughout her now 15-year career at Sunnybrook.

“I say now that Sunnybrook is my hometown. I have received wonderful support from my colleagues, mentors and educators from when I started here as a registered nurse and throughout my continued schooling to become a nurse practitioner,” Bing said. “I would also like to express my gratitude to my previous and current managers and director for all their support and guidance. Without it, I will not be able to achieve my goals and continue to improve.”

About the author

Alexis Dobranowski

Alexis Dobranowski is a Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.