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Justice 'finally' served on Richmond racist cafe incident couple: advocates

'The sentence sends a very clear signal, or message, to society that this kind of crime will not be tolerated,' said legal advisor.
The sentence for Michel Jean-Jacque Berthiaume and Astrid Maria Secreve was "fair and proportionate," said lawyer Vincent Yang.

A group of anti-Asian hate advocates is relieved that "justice has been served" for a racial incident in a Steveston cafe last year.

Stop Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Advocacy Group (SAAHCAG), a group made up of community members in Metro Vancouver, celebrated the occasion with a press conference on Wednesday. Attendees heard from co-founders of SAAHCAG, a legal expert, city councillors Chak Au and Alexa Loo and Richmond's Chinese Culture Centre president Fred Kwok.

SAAHCAG members attended every court appearance of Michel Jean-Jacque Berthiaume and Astrid Maria Secreve, who dumped coffee on the floor, threw a paper cup and made racist remarks at a Chinese barista in March 2021.

The couple was given a 12-month probation and each fined $100 at their sentencing last week.

"It has been a long wait of 19 months, and finally justice has been served," said Ivan Pak, co-founder of SAAHCAG.

Vincent Yang, who has been advising SAAHCAG on the law surrounding this case, said the sentence was "fair and proportionate."

"The sentence sends a very clear signal, or message, to society that this kind of crime will not be tolerated," he added.

Having now gotten closure for this racist incident, the advocacy group is planning to "work collaboratively" with other minority groups to tackle racism and discrimination. Plans are also in place for an exhibition of the group's work in the past two years.

In the meantime, however, SAAHCAG will be getting ready for a fundraising gala in memory of the 1923 Chinese Immigration Act. Also known as the "Chinese Exclusion Act," the statute virtually banned all Chinese immigration into Canada for 24 years.

"If our world is ever going to make progress, it needs to remember what it's learned from the past. Let us not forget 1923. We believe there is more that needs to be done," said Pak.

The gala will be held at Richmond's Sheraton Hotel on Jan. 12, 2023.