Canada’s University of Toronto apologizes for giving out ‘hell money’ for Lunar New Year
Published: Feb 07, 2022 06:35 PM
Photo: Screenshot from Sina Weibo

Photo: Screenshot from Sina Weibo

The renowned University of Toronto in Canada apologized to students who received joss paper or "hell money" in red envelopes as a gift from the university on Lunar New Year after the move triggered dissatisfaction among Asian students who felt offended as the false paper bank note is used to burn as offerings to the dead. 

Members of the University of Toronto Graduate House Team prepared a display to celebrate Lunar New Year and incorrect bank notes were unintentionally placed into the red envelopes, a statement from the university spokesperson read, according to the Star. 

By the time they caught the error, all the envelopes had been taken and the university deeply regretted the error, according to the spokesperson. 

One of the images of the paper money with a face value of 10,000 yuan ($1,573) clearly read "HELL BANK NOTE" on the top. 

Traditionally, red envelopes filled with money are given out as symbols of good luck and prosperity for the recipients in the coming year. Many Asian students regarded receiving "hell money" during the Lunar New Year a sign of bad luck and inauspiciousness. Joss paper is meant to be burnt as an offering to deities and deceased ancestors in the afterlife. 

Some students pointed out that the "HELL BANK NOTE" written at the top of the bill is hard to miss and even if the university was unfamiliar with Asian culture, they should not have made such a mistake. 

Some overseas Chinese students studying at the university told the Global Times on Monday that so far they have only seen the apology on the university's WeChat account. Others said it may have been a genuine mistake by the university since doing so on purpose would definitely defame the university's image. 

"The university is deeply committed to the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion and will continue its effort to educate the school community to learn and embrace the cultural diversity among them and to deepen the sense of inclusivity and belonging across our three campuses," read a statement from the university. 

Global Times