Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Obama wins in…

Posted by chinesecanuck on November 5, 2008

…and becomes the first non-white President of the US.  So what about Canada?  We have had so far, two non-white Governors-General, who represent the British monarch (and our Head of State), but when will we have a non-white Prime Minister?  While I don’t think it would happen in the next few years, I do believe it will soon.  And when it does happen, most likely, the person will be male, Canadian born or raised and South Asian (since there are a decent number of South Asians (compared to other non-white groups…and I’m pretty sure there’s more than one MP who is Canadian born and/or raised, opposed to East Asians) who are involved with public office).  I also don’t think the time will come for people of East Asian descent for a even longer time.  If Canadians are critical of Stephane Dion’s Quebecois-accented English, what will they think of a foreign accent?  Until more East Asian Canadians who were born/raised here run for office, leadership of a major party is NOT going to happen.

What do you think?

What do you think?

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Posted in culture, ethnicity, minorities, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Canada’s GG and Minorities and an Ivy Education

Posted by chinesecanuck on June 3, 2008

Another interesting post from Racialicious.

First Comment (originally from Womanist Musings):

Canada’s current Governor-General, Michaëlle Jean is black.  A well-known Quebecois writer, Victor-Lévy Beaulieu, recent called her La Reine-Nègre (The Negro Queen), which sparked controversy.  He claims that he didn’t mean anything racist, just her attitude.
What’s interesting is that the last Governor-General, Adrienne Clarkson, is of Chinese descent.  She was also criticized about the way she did things, but I don’t recall anyone calling her the Empress Dowager. People DID say something about her being female, and that no one would have said anything about the spending if she had been a guy.

Second Comment (Originally from Blackline):

“If you are a minority, chances are you will run into a teacher who seems to like you a lot, and at this point they will make it their life mission to save you (kind of like Dangerous Minds). These teachers are extremely condescending and take it personally when you disagree with them in any way (you’re seen as fighting them, preventing them from helping you).  In their minds, you grew up in a single parent shack, your mother works three jobs, and you have 10 brothers and sisters, rather than being a son of a physician and a lawyer. It’s one thing to be admired by your teacher, it’s another being their charity, because in the end all your other classmates will win the awards, and you will get a pat on the back.”

I’d say that CERTAIN minority groups are thought of as living in a shack, with a single mom who works several jobs.  In my case, I’m more likely to be thought of as a foreigner than some poor kid from the wrong side of town.

Posted in assimilation, Chinese Canadian, culture, ethnicity, minorities | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Learned Another Language as a Tot, English at School – ESL or Not?

Posted by chinesecanuck on May 15, 2008

I didn’t speak English until I started school.  English is technically not my first language.  Cantonese is.  According to the Statistics Canada definition, Cantonese is my mother tongue, as it is defined as “the first language learned at home in childhood and still understood by the individual at the time of the census.”  I certainly still understand Cantonese.  My parents and grandparents speak Canto to me every day.  I usually reply in English to my parents, but in Cantonese to my grandparents. Gung Gung and Poh Poh do not speak much English.  Neither does my paternal grandmother.  English is my most comfortable language.  It’s the language I use before anything else.  I think in English.  However, Statscan does not have a category for people like me.  And there are plenty of people like me.  Many second generation Canadians, regardless of culture are like me.  We may not have said anything yet, but I’m pretty sure we don’t want to be grouped in the same  category as people who learned English much later in life.  We don’t sound like English is our second (or third, fourth, etc) language.  Our accents are indistinguishable from people whose families have been in English Canada for generations.  And at the same time, we’d be lying if we said that English was our first language.  It’s tough when we have to check off a box!

I think it’s time that they actually have a box for people in this situation.  I think it’s a great way to find out how many Canadians UNDERSTAND their ancestral language, but do not speak it or default to it.

Posted in Chinese Canadian, culture, default language, English, ethnicity, language, minorities, Mother Tongue | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

English or French Test for ALL Skilled Immigrants

Posted by chinesecanuck on May 3, 2008

It could happen, according to the Toronto Star.  Yes, this means that people coming into Canada from countries that speak either English or French will need to pass the test too.  While the ability to speak, read and write English well would mean that people from countries that speak other languages can better adapt here, it does seem insulting to people who’re from, say, Australia.  Also, the language status of people who ARE NOT coming in as skilled workers would unlikely change.  In larger cities, they’re most likely to interact only with people who speak their language and understand the old culture.  This is NOT a good thing.

Of course, as the article says, it cause further delays in the already-backed up application system.

Readers, what do you think?  How well should immigrants’ language skills be? 

Posted in education, immigration | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Where are the CBC MPs and MPPs/MLAs?

Posted by chinesecanuck on May 2, 2008

There are 305 MPs in the Canadian House of Commons. Two of them, Olivia Chow and Raymond Chan, are of “full” Chinese descent (another, Michael Chong, is half Chinese, half Dutch) and both are not CBC. In fact, both came after the age of 10 (I believe Oliva Chow came to Canada in time to start high school (or the year before) and Raymond Chan came in his late teens). As they came as older kids/young adults, they are not exactly qualified to represent the views of people of Chinese descent born and raised in this country when it comes to diversity. They are more likely to side with the “mainstream” of diversity and multiculturalism from the immigrant point of view.

***Note, there is one Vietnamese-Canadian MP, Ève-Mary Thaï Thi Lac. She wasn’t born here either. Interesting to note that there are probably twice as many South Asian MPs than Chinese, yet South Asians only slightly outnumber Chinese Canadians in terms of population. Something’s really, really wrong here!***

There are 107 MPPs at Queen’s Park (Member of Provincial Parliament….why is Ontario the only province who uses the term MPP? Other English-speaking provinces use MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly)). Out of the 107, only one, the Hon. Michael Chan, is Chinese Canadian, and he’s also “not from here.”

In British Columbia, there are 78 MLAs and 4 of them are of Chinese descent. BC seems to be a little better, as at least one, Ida Chong, is CBC.

So my question is this: Why aren’t people more CBCs elected or even running? Confidence issues? Or is it because Chinese people just don’t have a “history” of voting (India has been independent for decades) ? If it’s the latter, why on EARTH are there more non-CBCs than CBCs in government?

(I’ll do a separate post on city council at a later date)

Posted in Asian, assimilation, banana, CBC, China, Chinese Canadian, culture, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

You want to be considered “Canadian”? Stop acting “foreign”!

Posted by chinesecanuck on April 22, 2008

Asians being perceived as foreigners, even if they have been in Canada (or the US, Australia, etc) for generations is common. But has anyone ever thought of why? Other than the fact that Asians aren’t white or the fact that the vast majority are either immigrants or second generation? Maybe it’s because SOME people don’t want to act a certain way? You know, if some people, especially people who may be distinct in one way or another do something, people outside of that group may automatically believe that EVERYONE in that group is just like that.

Being treated one way doesn’t necessarily depend on what you look like, but how you act. Remember the musical/play, My Fair Lady/Pygmalion? Eliza Doolittle’s transition from flower girl to “lady” wasn’t because she was dressed well, but because of the way she spoke and acted. If it was all about appearances, Henry Higgins would have finished his “experiment”as soon as Eliza was cleaned up and out of her flower girl clothes!

Right now, the rain hasn’t fallen on the plain just yet. I’m actually not even sure when it will fall. People who question whether there’s a “real” Canadian identity, people who question why it’s necessary to adapt to the local cultures, etc, aren’t really helping much. And yes, even if you don’t assimilate/integrate/whatever you want to call it, you need to have an idea of what people are talking about. Don’t want to? Why on earth are you here (and regardless of what some people say, these people DO exist…I know a few who’ve been in English-speaking Canada longer than they were in the old country and STILL sound like they’re fresh off the plane. And these people aren’t older. They’re like 30! Look, if you came to this country at the age of 11 or 12, I expect a bit of an accent, but HALTING ENGLISH?? C’mon!)? And if you were born here, what on earth did your parents tell you? Did they brainwash you? It also doesn’t help that some people, especially the immigrant generation (and this is really common with Hong Kong Chinese in my circle), treat anyone who isn’t from their culture as foreigners (and some of these immigrant parents DO brainwash their children). Yes, this includes white Canadians who have been in the country for decades (though this may be out of habit, but still). You know, if you treat people one way, expect that treatment back. Thanks.

(BTW, I would like to see other people’s comments too.)

Posted in assimilation, Chinatown, Chinese Canadian, culture, ethnicity, minorities | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Bananas, Part II (or Classism, Part I)

Posted by chinesecanuck on April 21, 2008

Being a Banana is an identity. It’s used to differentiate from the various Chinese and western cultures that exist all over the world. Some may ask why one just doesn’t use the term “CBC” (or ABC, BBC, etc)? Answer? Not all CBCs are the same. While the vast majority grow up in Canada (or what ever western country) and are exposed to Canadian (again, whatever country) culture, there are some who actually move back to the old country at a young age. Take my cousin, Jennifer (not her real name), for example. She was born in Toronto, but she moved back to Hong Kong just weeks after she was born. She’s technically CBC, but she has much more in common with foreign students and recent HK immigrants). She’s now going to school in North America. What is this young woman? CBC or not?

There are those, such as Restructure, who feel that Bananas think they’re white. Do they, Restructure? I’m pretty sure they know that they’re Asian. They just enjoy things that people, Chinese or not, consider “white culture.” Usually, they are aspects of white culture that are foreign or “bad” to Chinese immigrants, including certain sports like hockey and football, playing musical instruments other than classical piano or violin (again, classical. God forbid an East Coaster CBC who wants to fiddle) and dating non-Chinese. Come to think of it, being a Banana isn’t really about being “white”, but really being more of a “commoner.” But in any case, being “banana” is a cultural identity. Language and customs play an important role in this.  Restructure points out that lots of non-white Canadians don’t know how to read/write the language,  yet they still aren’t white.  Well, Restructure, that was a really weak point.  Lots of non-white Canadians (and white, non-Anglo Canadians) know how to read/write their old country language, especially if they’re first generation.  And since most Chinese Canadians over 18 are no more than second generation, the expectation of reading/writing, or at least speaking, is still there.  And in any case, in North America, the ability to speak more than one language is a privilege, and again, tied with whether one is “common” or not “common.”   As for speaking English, there are different tones, of speaking the language, even if you have a perfect, “standard” Canadian accent that are associated with class, region and the time one arrives in this part of the world.  The HK Mallrat voice is highly influenced by HK movies and many young women (as in under 40) who watch these movies have that kind of voice.  I have also come in contact with Italian Canadians over 50, who for some reason sound like Martin Scorsese or Rudy Guiliani, both New Yorkers of Italian descent.  Interesting, no?

Forcing people to identify as plain Canadian, Chinese-Canadian, CBC, or whatever is like taking the Newfoundlander, Quebecois or Texan identities away and forcing people there to call themselves Canadian or American. Many people from these regions consider themselves Canadian/American SECOND (even if the stereotypes, especially with Newfoundlanders, are negative). It’s like telling someone who is metrosexual that he’s really in the closet and should come out.  It’s questioning an already-outed gay person’s sexuality.  Don’t you see anything wrong with that?

Posted in ABC, assimilation, banana, BBC, CBC, Chinese Canadian, class, culture, ethnicity, language, minorities, social class | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Canada’s C-50: Limitation on Immigration

Posted by chinesecanuck on April 19, 2008

Many people want to come to Canada.  So many, in fact, that Canada is currently looking at changing its immigration policies so that some people could be fast-tracked in.  This includes people who are in highly trained jobs such as medicine or engineering.  Prospective immigrants are already complaining that they need to wait years to get in, especially those who are highly educated or skilled.  So why should these people have to wait?

However, what upsets people is that the bill apparently indicates that the government can pick and choose which countries prospective immigrants come from (some websites even say that the minister can do it.  NOT TRUE.  Why would she?  She doesn’t have the time!).  Some people are going as far as saying that it’s a big step backwards, back to the early twentieth century or before.  But what they don’t realize is that the government is already “picking and choosing”.  There are already very strict requirements to get in, believe it or not, and technically, the people from certain countries ARE more likely to be rejected because they don’t meet the standards.

What would I do?  Considering that many immigrants to Canada seem to prefer their old ways of doing things (but at the same time, enjoy the freedoms that we give them, things that weren’t possible in the old country), I’d require prospective immigrants to watch videos about life in Canada so that they wouldn’t be in for a shock when they come.  They’d should also be required to answer questions like:

  1. You child has been paired up with a member of the opposite sex (or child whose family is from an “enemy” country) for a school assignment.  How would you react?  Would you force the teacher to find the child another partner? (If the parents say yes, then points are deducted)
  2. At a work gathering, one of your co-workers introduces you to his (her) spouse.  His (her) spouse is a man (woman).  How would you feel about that? (I know that plenty of people in Canada are homophobic, but we don’t want to increase the numbers, do we?) 
  3. A couple lives next door to you.  They seem lovely and very friendly.  At a dinner party, you find out that they aren’t legally married.  In fact, they have no intention of getting married.  Will you still be friends with them? (again, I know that plenty of people are anti-shacking up before marriage, but like homophobics, we don’t need more of them in this country.)
  4. Your (now grown) child doesn’t want to marry the person that was arranged for him/her.  Instead, the child wants to marry someone they’re in love with (or not at all).  To you, the show must go on.  Is there anything wrong with the picture? (brownie points for those who say yes :-))
  5. You move into a neighbourhood that is primarily made up of people who speak your language and enjoy your traditions.  Do you think it’s necessary to learn English (or French)?  If not, why not? 

I know some of these questions sound a little crazy, and may also apply to certain groups who’ve been in this country for years, but like I’ve said before, we don’t need MORE people like that here.  And I think if more people had an open mind when they arrive, there’d be less tension between different groups and also less tension between parents and their Canadian raised children.

Toronto Star article on Bill C-50

Website that opposes C-50

Citizenship and Immigration Canada website

Posted in assimilation, culture, ethnicity, minorities | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

Most Canadians Believe that (New) Minorities are “Coddled” by Government: Poll

Posted by chinesecanuck on April 17, 2008

Two posts today!

This was published in the Globe and Mail today. And yeah, I agree with this too, and I’m non-white. It makes people like me feel out of place. I’m not seen by many white Canadians as “Canadian”, yet I don’t “fit in” with so-called “minorities” because my family is:

  • Not all that “old country” (most Hong Kong Canadians aren’t, anyway…at least not compared to lots of South Asian communities in Canada)
  • Not really “marginalized” (hey, I’m a suburban raised girl who went to private school, took piano and skating lessons, went to summer camp and Brownies/Guides. How is that MARGINALIZED/NOT PRIVILEGED?)

I can’t be alone. There are lots of people like me, and the government, media, etc, never talk about it. They only stick to so-called “liberal” white people who openly embrace differences, new Canadians who clamour for acceptance (and both these groups criticize people like me who have embraced “mainstream” culture, even if this “mainstream” culture was integrated into the “old country” culture for decades, such as say, wearing a white wedding gown (white is the traditional colour of mourning in China, yet the vast majority of Hong Kong and Singapore brides will wear white)) and well, white supremacists/good ol’ boys (not to be confused with the Old Boys Network….VERY DIFFERENT, PEOPLE. VERY, VERY DIFFERENT.)

The media don’t understand or at least, care to understand that there are people who just don’t care. There are people out there who have no issues with so-called “mainstream” culture, yet we are silenced by radicals and people who have a so-called “open mind.” Banning holiday concerts that mention Christmas (yet embracing other religions who have some sort of celebration around the same time of year) is wrong, IMHO. Telling your kid that he or she shouldn’t have done this or that because the kid isn’t from of that religion or culture (which happens to be the “mainstream”) isn’t right either. And for some reason, this happens only in certain parts of Toronto. There were lots of kids at my high school who were not white Protestants, yet no parent had ever criticized service attendance, curriculum, etc…Maybe parents who pay $20+K ($15K when I was there) are just more open-minded or don’t care?

I guess my issue is this:  Once you accommodate, people expect that certain cultures behave that way.  It leads to more issues of ignorance.  Also, then other groups will start asking to be accommodated.  I’m sorry, but what happened to “when in Rome, do as the Romans”?

Can’t wait to see what they say over at Racialicious and Restructure. They probably WON’T agree with me. Most non-white activists don’t.

Posted in assimilation, culture, ethnicity, minorities, religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments »