An Indigenous Vancouver woman says she is the latest victim of a racist attack driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dakota Holmes told Global News she was walking her dog Kato in Gray’s Park near 33rd Avenue and Fraser Street when a man nearby heard her sneeze.

“He came up and assumed I was Asian and was yelling all these racist slurs at me, and then he punched me in the face,” she said.

Holmes’ dog Kato intervened and scared the man away, but Holmes was left with visible bruises on her face.

Vancouver police say they were called to a potentially racially-motivated assault in the area around 8:30 p.m.

The case has been turned over the VPD’s diversity section, and is being led by hate crimes investigators.

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“As a police service, we work hard to build strong relationships with marginalized groups in our community and encourage anyone who has experienced hate, bigotry, or discrimination to call us,” said Sgt. Aaron Roed.

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“Hate crimes and hate incidents have always been significantly under-reported.”