OTTAWA -- Calls to end anti-Asian racism are mounting across Canada after a shooting in Atlanta, Ga. killed eight people, including six women of Asian descent.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, hate crimes targeting Asian community members have surged dramatically.

Although police in Atlanta have not labeled Wednesday's shooting rampage as racially motivated, Ottawa resident Melissa Mui disagrees.

"It’s anti-Asian hate crime," says Mui. "It’s all over social media and I was completely shocked that this would happen and I thought, is this the tip of the iceberg."

The message has reverberated across Canada and many Asian community groups have banded together to condemn the violence.

"Definitely this is a targeted racist, misogynistic attack we have been subject to that throughout the pandemic and we feel like we are sitting ducks just waiting for the next hunt," says Amy Go, interim president of the Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice (CCNC-SJ). "We need strong political leadership. We also need actions from all the police services to prosecute hate crime and support victims. We also, of course, need systemic changes that would fundamentally address the inherent inequalities and inequities that we are all facing."

The CCNC-SJ say discrimination is already present and with fear and anxiety around COVID-19, it begins to expose itself. Stigma creates more fear and anger towards people as opposed to the virus, which is causing the problem. 

Anti-Asian hate crimes are surging in Canada during the pandemic. Between 2019 and 2020, Vancouver, B.C. reported a 717 percent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. In Ottawa, hate crimes among East Asian and Southeast Asian people in the same time period increased 600 percent.

Mui says her encounters with racism have been mostly online but adds that she, and many others, are using the power of social media for good, to raise awareness.

“People are doing it right now and it’s becoming a wave of learning and teaching others and i think that’s really important ... to ultimately be a kinder person matter age race or culture.”