A North Vancouver sushi shop owner who says he was targeted with racial slurs and spat upon by a woman outside his restaurant has received an outpouring of support from the community.
Edward Hur, who has owned Nobu Sushi for the past 19 years, said many people came to his restaurant with flowers, cards and words of support after the incident became public.
“We are very thankful for it,” he said, adding those well wishers have helped him deal with the shock he felt immediately following the exchange.
Hur described how the incident unfolded on the evening of Aug. 26 outside his restaurant on Edgemont Boulevard.
Hur said the woman involved in the incident walks her dog by his shop semi-regularly and has in the past repeatedly allowed the dog to pee against the front wall and door of his restaurant.
Hur said he’s asked the woman to control her dog before, “but she never listened to me.”
When he stepped outside most recently to ask her once again, the woman started yelling at him to go back to his country, said Hur.
“She told me ‘I hate Asian people. Chinese people. Korean people. Japanese. Especially I hate Korean people. Korean people eat dogs,'” said Hur. The woman then yelled, “’This is my country. Go back to your country,’” said Hur. “My answer was ‘This is my country too,’” he said, adding he has been in Canada for 24 years.
Hur said he then pulled out his phone and began filming the end of the exchange. That video was later shared on social media.
“I was very shocked,” he said. “People can’t speak like that to other people.”
At least one woman witnessed the exchange and gave a statement to police, who are now investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. As of Sept. 6, however, there was no update in the case, according to the North Vancouver RCMP.
Hur said while he’s heard of the spike in anti-Asian hate during the pandemic, he never experienced it personally – until now.
“I never understand that kind of language,” he said.
Mark MacInnes was one local resident who went to the restaurant with his daughter to offer support.
MacInnes said it was important to him to show the woman’s behaviour was “unacceptable” adding, “When a community member is hurt, we stand with them.”
MacInnes said he also posted a discussion about the incident on the neighbourhood app Next Door, which spurred a lot of comment among neighbours appalled by the incident.
“The RCMP definitely need to have a conversation with her,” he said.
MacInnes said the discussion also prompted comments from other North Shore residents of Asian backgrounds who recounted their own experiences with overtly racist comments.
“It’s still here in our community. There’s still an undercurrent of this racial prejudice,” said MacInnes, adding the number of people who were upset by the incident shows “we are evolving as a community.”
North Vancouver RCMP spokesman Const. Mansoor Sahak said last week police are seeking public help to identify the woman involved.
She is described as a white woman about 5’6” tall with brown/red shoulder length hair. On the day in question she was wearing a turquoise rain jacket, dark blue pants and a light blue blouse.
Police are also looking for any security camera footage that may have captured the incident, he said.
“It’s very unusual,” he said of hate crimes being reported in North Vancouver. “It’s troubling when you see something like this.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the North Vancouver RCMP at 604-985-1311.
In response to news of the incident, Impact North Shore, which works with immigrant communities, issued a statement strongly denouncing the attack, adding it highlights an urgent need for local communities to actively stand up against racism.
According to the organization, there has been an alarming rise in racism, particularly anti-Asian racism, across the country, including an increase in verbal and physical attacks in public, hate graffiti, property damage, microaggressions and xenophobia.
According to the organization, a 2022 Impact North Shore survey showed an increase over the previous year of immigrants who indicated they had experienced an attack, harassment, or discrimination based on their skin colour, ethnicity, religious affiliation or race on the North Shore.
The group stated that according to Statistics Canada, police-reported hate crimes increased by 72 per cent between 2019 and 2021, noting that 80 per cent of hate crimes are unreported.
“It’s time for mindsets and behaviours to change,” said Wendy McCulloch, Impact North Shore executive director. “Community leaders and residents alike need to commit to being active witnesses in disrupting systemic racism and individual acts of hate.”