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Richmond's Rabbitats seek funding, partners for Lunar New Year anti-racism campaign

Volunteers at the local rabbit rescue continue to experience challenges due to harmful stereotypes.
Rabbitats wants to tackle racism while spreading awareness about rabbits in an upcoming campaign.

A local rabbit rescue wants to dispel anti-East Asian stereotypes, and it's hoping to get some help from the community.

To celebrate the upcoming Year of the Rabbit, Rabbitats is planning a campaign to debunk hurtful stereotypes, highlight Lunar New Year celebrations and raise awareness about unwanted, abandoned and feral rabbits, all at the same time.

Rabbitats was established 12 years ago, during the previous Year of the Rabbit, when they set off to relocate hundreds of rabbits from Richmond Auto Mall to a network of sanctuaries.

But over the years, volunteers have experienced numerous challenges which inspired the rescue's latest anti-racism campaign, Rabbitats founder Sorelle Saidman told The Richmond News.

"People have approached (East Asian volunteers) thinking they were catching the rabbits to eat or kill," she said. 

"We've also had some rabbit fans questioning whether Asian families will provide the best pet homes." 

Volunteers are also no strangers to "old and tired" jokes about "bunny stew," and such ignorant stereotypes are "aggravating," Saidman added.

She is hoping that a grant from the Richmond Community Foundation will help fund the campaign, but Rabbitats will be needing more help before that.

"We need a cultural partner to weigh in and guide us," she said, as the rescue wants to better express the message and inform the general public. Local organizations that wish to find out more about Rabbitats' anti-racism initiative are asked to email

In the meantime, Rabbitats will be holding two major Lunar New Year events — a 10-day education booth at Aberdeen Centre's flower fair from Jan. 13 to 22, and a two-day "Meet n' Treats" event at International Village Mall from Jan. 21 to 22.

The rescue has also noticed a "surge" in unwanted and abandoned rabbit reports across the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island in recent times. To help expand its operations, it is currently holding a fundraiser to purchase part of a co-housing property in Langley.

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