Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The New World

The Globe's front page story today is about the New Face of Canada.

In short, it is and will be "visible minority" face.

That is bringing and will continue to bring new excitement, new possibilities, and new challenges and struggles as cultures rub hard up against one another.

Canada, since the European invasions, has always been a country of immigrants.

Until now, the new Canadians have been largely, mostly, white Europeans.

That caused enough friction and comedy.

Now, every second citizen is from China or India or Africa and a hundred other places round the world.

On the same front page, the niqab/burka melodrama continues in Quebec.

If any story reveals the "challenges," this is it.

What is so interesting is that the Quebec authorities have been absolutely unequivocal.

“There is no ambiguity on this question: If you want to [attend] our classes, if you want to integrate in Quebec society, here our values are that we want to see your face,” Immigration Minister Yolande James said.

On Monday, Christine St-Pierre, the Quebec minister responsible for the status of women, called the niqab and burka “ambulatory prisons” that violate a woman's right to equality.

To complicate matters, the Muslim Canadian Congress, which has called for a ban, applauded Quebec's attitude toward the niqab and burka.

“This is an attire worn in the desert during sandstorms. It's got nothing to do with religion,” said Tarek Fatah, founder of the congress. “It's a very clear sign that women are the possessions of men, and it's being thrust on North America and Europe. Most Muslims are fed up with the niqab and burka.”

It is rare in this politically correct, terribly self-conscious country to see this kind of clear, declamatory positioning.

There is so much that new Canadians bring to the mix -p new and old energies and ideas, wealth, enthusiasm.

And there is so much that we are afraid to ask of new Canadians.

The written driver's test in British Columbia should not be available in 170 languages, including dozens of local Chinese dialects, peculiar to regions and town in the People's republic. It should be available in our two official languages, French and English. Period.

A month ago, I stepped out of a coffee shop to speak to three young men.

I was friendly and polite and non-threatening.

I said Hi and asked where they were from.

When they told me Korea, I greeted them in one of the few Korean phrases I know.

They were pleased.

That allowed me to point out that I had been sitting in the window having my coffee and in the last few minutes I had watched one of them spit on the side walk six times.

I added that 1) I found this personally disgusting and sickening; 2) Spitting on the sidewalk is against the law in BC; & 3) It's a cultural thing. It's just not done here.

The boys were very kind and respectful and offered that they didn't know any of this and that they would be mindful to not continue this habit.

We all shook hands.

But the question remains...

Why didn't they know?

Because we are not spending time with new Canadians and short-term student Canadians and telling them a few simple truths about their new home.

My mother - may she rest in peace - told me years ago that the future of humankind was..."somewhat chocolate."

In another words, the only and best and inevitable way that we will get past all the racial and other differences in the Family of Man/Woman will be intermarriage.

She was right.

But until we get there, we could do a lot better job about honestly getting to know one another and being clear about our mutual expectations.


Anonymous said...

David, I wish hope and pray that in the next 20 years Vancouver becomes a multicultural paradise.

I believe that the race riots in Great Briton will pale compared to the problems that we will see in Canada.

Our imigrants that I see move into their "own" neighbourhoods. The speak their "own " language.

Why didnt they stay in their "own" countries?


Anonymous said...

I just wonder how long it will be before these groups start fighting amongst themselves again like they did where they came from and mostly why they came here in the first place?

How long before their "customs" such as the spitting on the sidewalk, letting doors close in our faces, blocking traffic while waiting ten minutes for another one of their countrymen to vacate a parking spot on a busy street? How long before their former shady business practices along with bribery and religious fanaticism bring this great country to the same condition as their countries were when they had to leave them?

I don't believe it will be in my lifetime but certainly in my Grandchildren's life time. This great country of ours will denigrate into a much less desirable place to live.


Anonymous said...

I remember walking home with a male school mate when I was in 9th grade (this was over 20 years ago). He spat on the side walk every five minutes or so.

He was white.

I have had doors closed in my face. By people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds.

Shady business practices? You mean like the white contractors my parents hired who attempted to use cheaper grades of lumber (while charging for better grades of lumber. LOL - I guess they didn't realize my German born dad and his whole family worked in a sawmill when they first immigrated!! They knew their lumber thank-you-very-much!)

As for religious fanaticism, egads - I hope that they are not as bad as the puritan nuts who try to impose their moral agendas on women seeking birth control (including abortions), same sex adults who want to marry. Oh, wait - they would be um ... white!!

I am not saying that white is bad and everything else is good. The thing is - there are good, genuine people from ALL racial and ethnic backgrounds.

I agree with stressing the importance of Canadian society for equality, honesty/integrity and social standards. But these are lessons for everyone - immigrant or Canadian born.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous at 4:43 PM -- right on!!

And I have to add a note re spitters -- the worst offenders are white, yuppie (is that term still used?) joggers on Vancouver's rarefied west side -- I'm just saying.


Anonymous said...

There's always a way to deflect opinion away from a general truth and that's by using a singular example of the same behavior from the minority. I am speaking of the larger majority of immigrants who are guilty of these practices, (such as the spitting, rudeness, driving, religious fanaticism shady business practices et al.)

By and large we native Canadians have developed past these faults and have built a great society that has learned from it's past mistakes and now stands, (unfortunately) as a beacon for those coming from societies who, for many reasons have not progressed as far as us. Why haven't these people stayed home and worked towards improving their own societies instead of taking the easy way out by coming to Canada, directly into their "own neighborhoods" and religious cliques?

Granted there are a minority who are trying very hard to assimilate without carrying their traditional bad habits with them but they are certainly a minority.

Anonymous said...

I can live with it.

Anonymous said...

It is easier for men to live with the new immigrants, because many of them come from countries where man is king and woman is nothing. It is much more difficult for Canadian women to live amongst the newcomers. Try walking on a sidewalk in Vancouver and being walked right off it by men from elsewhere who act as if you are not even there. Try having a man from a country where women are possessions coming onto you in a disgusting lecherous fashion and acting like you should be grateful for his attention. Try being talked over in a discussion when it involves men from certain countries who don't value anything women have to say. It's horrible! And what is Canada doing about it? Do they educate male immigrants from certain countries as to the respect we show women here? It's why so many men here love visiting some countries where they treat men like gods, while the women here love visiting places like Italy and Sweden, where the men revere you and the women have power.