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Author Topic: Multiculturalism and race relations
Apemantus
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posted 04 December 2001 11:40 AM      Profile for Apemantus        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
From a British newspaper but would be interested to hear people's thoughts on the matter...
http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,611662,00.html

Do you believe in multicultuuralism or do you think it is an impossible dream


From: Brighton, UK | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
meades
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posted 04 December 2001 06:25 PM      Profile for meades     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
multiculturalism for me
From: Sault Ste. Marie | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
clockwork
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posted 04 December 2001 06:44 PM      Profile for clockwork     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Canadian multiculturalism has emphasized difference. In so doing, it has retarded the integration of immigrants into the Canadian mainstream while damaging Canada's national sense of self. Canada has an enviable record in dealing with racism - our society, while hardly perfect (we too have our racists of all colours), remains largely free of racial conflict. And yet we do ourselves a disservice in pursuing the divisive potential in multiculturalism. With an ongoing battle against separatism in Quebec, with east-west tensions, we are already a country uncomfortably riven. Our 'mosaic' does not help us.

An Essay an Canadian Multiculturalism
I don’t know who the writer is, but according to the site:
[quote[Neil Bissoondath is a writer of four fictional books plus Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada. He is currently working on a new book to be released later this year. [/quote]

Since that certain date, I’ve read many attacks on the “myth of multiculturalism”. I, for one, am not sure how to respond.


From: Pokaroo! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mohamad Khan
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posted 04 December 2001 07:21 PM      Profile for Mohamad Khan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
am i the only one whose computer freezes while trying to access that site? what gives?
From: "Glorified Harlem": Morningside Heights, NYC | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
clockwork
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posted 04 December 2001 07:42 PM      Profile for clockwork     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
My link? I checked it and it works for me.
From: Pokaroo! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
meades
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posted 04 December 2001 10:02 PM      Profile for meades     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Since that certain date, I’ve read many attacks on the “myth of multiculturalism”. I, for
one, am not sure how to respond.

I've been confronted with similar articles, though I maintain that multiculturalism is the only logical thing that Canada can claim as its "own" culture- we are a nation filled with hundreds, maybe even thousands of regional cultures, what the hell is wrong with applying an attitude of multiculturalism when it comes to people who immigrate here? Why should we try to force them into a "national" monoculture that doesn't exist? Personally, I would take that to the extent that knowing English or French shouldn't be a requirement when it comes to naturalization.

And why should we make people conform to regional cultures, either? 1) it would be hard, since people travel for work 2)again, they are entitled to their culture 3)...don't know how else to put this, but assimilation just isn't nice- wether it's forced by the government as it used to be here, or forced by the media like we see in the US.

So what's the point of assimilation? National Unity? Feh! If we can't more-or-less get along just because we're not all of the same or similar cultures, then what's the point of national unity anyway? If we revert to assimilation, then we concede defeat without even giving a good fight, and if that's whay the assimilation boosters are looking for, then the result will not be national unity, but continental homogenization- yes, that's right- manifest destiny.

If we can't at the very least tolerate one another regardless of culture, let alone accept, then what's the point of Canada at all? Why don't we just hoist the Stars and Stripes, and get it over with? If we start forcing "our" culture on those with different cultural perspectives, then exactly whose culture will it be? I doubt it will be mine, and I doubt it will be any of yours...

I'm not saying the US is racist and bigotive, mind you, rather I'm just trying to point out one of the major differences regarding the American approach of assimilation, and the Canadian approach of (arguably) "full acceptance" (note: I put that in quotation marks because it's really only supposed to be a reference to cultural differences, and even then, we're not "fully" accepting of other cultures- as I mentioned with reference to language and naturalization).


From: Sault Ste. Marie | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mohamad Khan
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posted 04 December 2001 11:58 PM      Profile for Mohamad Khan   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
no, the Guardian.
From: "Glorified Harlem": Morningside Heights, NYC | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 05 December 2001 12:25 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Uh, meades, the whole point is that this is a country whose official languages are English and French. Why shouldn't immigrants be required to at least have a working knowledge of the language of the country they're moving into, eh?

If I go over to Thailand, or Singapore, or Malaysia, or China, it would be the height of arrogance for me to insist that I not have to speak the language of the country I am going to.

So why is it, meades, that we Canadians cannot demand the right to be spoken to and dealt with in the language that the vast majority speaks and uses every day?

Personally, I, being hearing impaired, have had it up to HERE (*Points at ceiling*) with all the immigrants I have to deal with on a daily basis in my shopping and my purchases that can't string together a coherent sentence in English so I can understand it.

I do not begrudge them their residence in this country, but for God's sake take some goddamn ESL classes and stop murdering the language in more ways than I can dream of.

[ December 05, 2001: Message edited by: DrConway ]


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Markbo
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posted 05 December 2001 12:42 AM      Profile for Markbo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
If we can't at the very least tolerate one another regardless of culture, let alone accept, then what's the point of Canada at all? Why don't we just hoist the Stars and Stripes, and get it over with? If we start forcing "our" culture on those with different cultural perspectives, then exactly whose culture will it be? I doubt it will be mine, and I doubt it will be any of yours...

I don't think the U.S. is an example of giving up on multiculturalism. Look at how many cultures thrive in the U.S., How many cities have thriving Chinatowns, little italies etc... Look at the Hispanic population in Florida or in all America, their culture has taken the country by storm.

Melting pot vs. mosaic is just not that much of a difference in multiculturalism.


From: Windsor | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
clockwork
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posted 05 December 2001 02:34 AM      Profile for clockwork     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
!warning, long stream-of-consciousness style post!
quote:
Melting pot vs. mosaic is just not that much of a difference in multiculturalism.

Maybe, but maybe not. I don’t know how many articles I’ve read on white flight and racial ghettoization down in the States. They seem to be fixated on census data showing the makeup or different areas in the country. It might be that we are just a smaller country, but I have not read numerous articles about the racial make-up of Canada. Maybe our results are similar but the way we think of it is different, and thus the debate and actions are slightly altered.

I know people in my family complain about the numerous immigrants in Brampton, or another family member boasting that he lives in an “area with the highest concentration of white people in Toronto”. I’ve heard complaints that the Toronto City Council has spent money to put signs up in whatever the local language was. I certainly don’t get it. As I invariably would point out, “how many times do you drive in Chinatown?”

Nor can I get excited about immigrants who can’t speak the language. On occasion I visit Quebec City and a thought struck me walking through one of the suburban malls as I talk to my friend. Most likely there are a number of people in my surroundings that might actually resent the fact that I was talking in English, just as the typical WASP would resent an East Indian talking Punjabi in public. Granted, it is frustrating to explain where I am going to a cabby that doesn’t understand a word of English, but I’ve manage to live my life anyway.

Reading some of the cultural specific media (when it is in English) around here makes me wonder, though. Under the surface you can still find all the intolerance and racial hatreds that may be present in the “homeland”. That scares me. But then I think, again, to my own family. One member was from N.Ireland and still harbours the associated hatreds. But do the kids? No, they couldn’t care less.

So, are we just in a state of flux, where sufficient time hasn’t been given to flush out some of this baggage, or is some of this thought here to stay. Is it even an issue? Is this Neil Bissoondath right when he states:

quote:
Many immigrants agree. They recognize that multiculturalism has not served their interests. It has exoticized, and so marginalized, them, making the realization of their dreams that much harder. The former rector of the Université du Québec à Montréal, Claude Corbo, himself the grandson of Italian immigrants, has pointed out that multiculturalism has kept many immigrants 'from integrating naturally into the fabric of Canadian and Quebec society... We tell people to preserve their original patrimony, to conserve their values, even if these values are incompatible with those of our society.'

I don’t think I’ve “exocticized” immigrants, but I have asked friends what it was like in Mexico, Vietnam, Philippines, India, wherever. For the most part, they turned out okay. They grew up, went to college or university, got jobs like the rest of us blokes.

Another question (that I’m sure will draw fire). This Bissoondath (and Corbo) blame multiculturalism for failure of immigrants to fit and contribute to society. Ignoring the question of integration, is he blaming the right target? If a certain immigrant community insists on segregation, wouldn’t it be the immigrant community’s fault for this? This question isn’t specific to immigrants. If you grow up in an isolated society with your white friends, being taught that the earth is 6000 years old or whatnot, you too might have a rude awakening when you hit the “mainstream” culture. You might find a wall as well.

I agree with meades wholeheartedly, but I can’t reconcile “National Unity” with unquestioning acceptance of each culture. I’m not a strict moral relativist (if you state that the death penalty should be reinstated, I’ll argue whether your white or a recent immigrant from somewhere in Asia) and, let’s face it, a lot of people just don’t want to get along. Add regional rivalries or grievances with infighting between regional communities, can a “Canadian Vision” last?

Or is all this talk frivolous: there is no real problem (at least, problems not exacerbated by multiculturalism), just constructs artificially created in my head?
Food for thought, I hope.

[ December 05, 2001: Message edited by: clockwork ]


From: Pokaroo! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 05 December 2001 02:52 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Great for you that you can peacefully deal with immigrants and the associated cultural and communication issues that go along with that.

I can't.

Why?

Because communication that is as exact and as precise as possible is important to me. I can't stand it when I have to resort to pen and paper, or speaking slowly like a retard in order to get my point across.

Which is why it is doubly frustrating in this metropolitan city of Vancouver with a large immigrant population to have to deal with the butchering of the language that invariably comes when the working knowledge of the language is insufficient.

Of course, you don't wear hearing aids.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
clockwork
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posted 05 December 2001 04:52 AM      Profile for clockwork     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I have this nagging feeling that I'm about to put my foot in my mouth here, if I already haven't done so.

No I don't wear hearing aids. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to put you on the defensive. I think an onus is on a person to at least develop a functional command of the language.
But while you have certain set of circumstances that lead you to say what you say, I have my certain set of circumstances that leads me to say what I've said. I hear racial overtones in such statements. The jist of a question such as "why can't they speak English" usually comes along with observation that "they shouldn't be here if they can't speak English."
I don't have a problem with people complaining that they can't communicate with others whose mother tongue is not English. That's just an everyday observation. I do have a problem when that communication barrier is used as excuse for racial prejudice.

[ December 05, 2001: Message edited by: clockwork ]


From: Pokaroo! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Apemantus
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posted 05 December 2001 01:30 PM      Profile for Apemantus        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
After all, English is not the native language of Canada, I presume it was imported with immigrants from Europe.

As for here in the UK, should someone who emigrates to Scotland from England be expected to speak Gaelic?

The theory of course is that they should adopt the tongue of the country they have chosen to make their home, but that rests on certain assumptions:

1. That they chose where they ended up as their destination.

2. That they want to stay there, when in fact they may well prefer to return to their country of origin but run the risk of torture and persecution.

3. That the cultural identity of a nation is dependent on some sort of homogenous identity.

4. That language is the only means of communication.


Don't get me wrong, I can understand people's frustration at an inability to communicate with people, but as their hosts whilst they cannot go home, maybe it is us that need to show hospitality rather than them showing deferrence?


From: Brighton, UK | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
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posted 05 December 2001 04:08 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The government of Canada sets up a "points" system with respect to independent immigrants (ie. not refugees, for ex.)

Points are given for French or English, but the system is set up so that employability is the central area in which success can be achieved. The government sets it up this way so that Canada meets its economic goals; they don't honestly give a damn whether anyone here cannot communicate with someone
who has arrived from abroad.

Then again, the Immigration points system is applied to the "head of the family" only; typically, if the wage earner speaks English or French, others in the family need have no such proficiency.

Of course, a good daycare system would allow thousands of women to break out of a domestic ghetto, and learn the national languages; but without that, many are stuck at home for the remainder of their natural lives, where language learning is not an easy priority to maintain.


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
doseq
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posted 05 December 2001 05:36 PM      Profile for doseq     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I would add that learning a new language is not easy. It requires practise and the ability to make mistakes and butcher the language at first without people becoming angry or dismissive. A few ESL classes or French for beginners will not make it possible to do more than ask where the bathroom is, introduce yourself or discuss the weather in scant detail.

I don't fault people who's mother language is not english or french for not practising in their homes. For the sake of precise and complex conversation there is nothing like your first language. As an anglo in the heart of Quebec I always speak in english when in the company of other anglos.

So if you have a person who has recently arrived and is not employable because of their language skills, is taking the above courses that provide 3 hours a week of language practise and they don't have a social life in the english speaking community who is able to help them along, how do you propose they learn.

[ December 05, 2001: Message edited by: doseq ]


From: Quebec City | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
meades
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posted 05 December 2001 05:53 PM      Profile for meades     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Are ESL and/or FSL (Is that the acronym for the French version?) free? If not- they should be (yes, I know nothing's free- but taxes should pay for them).

Also adding points to those immigrants who already speak English and French is okay with me- so long as it's not required for naturalization.

I just don't like the idea of the government forcing the dominant language down the throats of immigrants- It just seems so authoritarian, and... well, I think you know what I mean. It just doesn't seem right.


From: Sault Ste. Marie | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Pankaj
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posted 05 December 2001 05:58 PM      Profile for Pankaj   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Its takes some time for assimilation to occur. Experience suggests that immigrants take on the dominant culture's values, languages as well as contributing something from their own culture. For example, acupuncture is now within the provincial health delivery system in BC and Yoga is just about everywhere. More examples anyone? Its a process with its attendant bumps and hiccups but things are just fine here in Canada.
From: London, ON | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
clockwork
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posted 05 December 2001 06:27 PM      Profile for clockwork     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I think an onus is on a person to at least develop a functional command of the language.

Hmm… I think I should clarify this a bit. I don't want to force anyone to learn a language. There are reasons why a person might not learn, or can't.
I only make this statement because a brief glance at the help wanted ads in the papers (at least around here) ask that applicants be able to speak English. It would suggest learning the language would be a valuable skill.

From: Pokaroo! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 05 December 2001 06:29 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
To me, the changes that immigration have wrought in Canada over the course of my adult lifetime (since the mid-sixties) have been much more good than bad, deeply enriching.

The bureaucratizing of multiculturalism in both Britain and Canada is the one criticism raised in each of the links above that bothers me too, and I need more time to think about how I would describe both the problem and ways of addressing it.

The Guardian article bothers me a bit in its studied avoidance of well-known problems of regional and class inequity in Britain. Bradford and Keighley are towns in Yorkshire where everyone has suffered dreadfully since the late 1970s and the Thatcher regime's abandonment of the industrial midlands. (I can expand, but won't here just now.)

Neil Bissoondath is indeed a talented Canadian writer. Sorry if this is going to sound ad hominem, but he is also a nephew of V.S. Naipaul, and has been writing variations on this essay over and over again for the last decade at least. He is well-schooled in the canonical British tradition, and I fear that I detect that leaning in lines such as this one:

quote:
Yet how easily we forget that none of our ethnic cultures seems to have produced poetry or literature or philosophy worthy
of our consideration.

Read his essay for yourselves. Are you not struck by the excess of his use of negative terms like "disaster," or the triviality of the examples (many seriously dated) he cites? In my reading of him, he is confusing his ambitions for himself, formed long ago, with what might be hoped for Canadian culture ... I live in faith that we are building something more original.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 05 December 2001 06:35 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I just don't like the idea of the government forcing the dominant language down the throats of immigrants- It just seems so authoritarian, and... well, I think you know what I mean. It just doesn't seem right.

Well, it doesn't help them or us if they can't speak a word of English without sounding completely unintelligible, wouldn't you say?


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Chickenbum
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posted 05 December 2001 06:38 PM      Profile for Chickenbum     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, if we expect immigrant so function and contribute to society, then they need to be able to speak the language of business, so they gotta learn English. I mean, what more to is it there? Sure, the government could perhaps use more tact, but it's a small price to pay to enter the country. "Coming to Canada? Great! All you got to do is learn English! Can't find a job? No Problem? That what the government's for! Just do us a favour and learn English!"

Also I would venture that Canada isn't so much Multicultural as MultiEthnic.


From: happily functioning in society | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged
WingNut
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posted 05 December 2001 06:43 PM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
They do? I grew up in Toronto in the heart of little Italy. Construction workers, bakery and restaurant owners and any number of factory workers, and car repair mechanics and owners who spoke nary a word of english but still did quite well. I remember they used to go shopping with their children who would interpret.

And in Chinatown, well ... enough said ...


From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Chickenbum
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posted 05 December 2001 06:55 PM      Profile for Chickenbum     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ya, but come on, there is a limited market for artisans and craftsmen in tight little ethnic quarters nowadays...also these are historically well-seated ethnic groups...picture a newly arrived Somalian looking for "Little Somali" and hoping to function as a mechanic with little English skills!
From: happily functioning in society | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged
clockwork
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posted 05 December 2001 07:05 PM      Profile for clockwork     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The flip side is that I have heard people describe workforces in plants that are composed of a significant portion of non-English speaking workers.

quote:
Read his essay for yourselves. Are you not struck by the excess of his use of negative terms like "disaster," or the triviality of the examples (many seriously dated) he cites?

That set a flag off too, hence my "Or is all this talk frivolous: there is no real problem here?" question. However, and I'm a bit ashamed to admit this, I couldn't think of an example of poetry or literature of a philosophy worthy of consideration spawned by "ethnic cultures". That doesn't mean it doesn't exist… perhaps this is a refutation of the essay in and of itself.

But is,say, Michael Ondaatje Native, or is he Canadian? Evelyn Lau? Mordecai Richler? Etc, etc.
Where does the "ethnicity" end so they can produce good stuff?

[ December 05, 2001: Message edited by: clockwork ]


From: Pokaroo! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
judym
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posted 05 December 2001 07:22 PM      Profile for judym   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
But is,say, Michael Ondaatje Native, or is he Canadian? Evelyn Lau? Mordecai Richler? Etc, etc. Where does the "ethnicity" end so they can produce good stuff?

Michael Ondaatje came from Sri Lanka.
Evelyn Lau has written about her rejection of identity politics.

Why must ethnicity end for good stuff to be produced? Why is it Canadian or? Isn't Canada made up of an impossible mix of things?

Rohinton Mistry, A Fine Balance
Dionne Brand, A Land to Light On
Roy Miki, Surrender
M. NourbeSe Philip
... to name a few.


From: earth | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Pankaj
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posted 05 December 2001 07:25 PM      Profile for Pankaj   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
That set a flag off too, hence my "Or is all this talk frivolous: there is no real problem here?" question. However, and I'm a bit ashamed to admit this, I couldn't think of an example of poetry or literature of a philosophy worthy of consideration spawned by "ethnic cultures". That doesn't mean it doesn't exist… perhaps this is a refutation of the essay in and of itself.

What the fuck does this mean? What is Taoism, what is Yoga? What is Bisoondath talking about? Utter rubbish. You gotta know how and where to look and the Post won't put it on its front page.


From: London, ON | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
meades
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posted 05 December 2001 07:34 PM      Profile for meades     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I am still absolutely disgusted by the fact that our government can (and does) say "Sorry- you don't speak English or French- you're not entitled to a Canadian citizenship- despite you living here for at least three out of the last four years, having had children born here, having been legally admitted into the country, and despite having passed the test that shows you actually have learned enough of the coutry's history and political/geographical/economic/etc. situation, and all other requirements."

English, it has been said, is the hardest language on earth to learn. I don't think that's entirely true, but it wouldn't surprise me if it were in the top-ten range... Anyway, expecting people to learn English (which could take YEARS AND YEARS!) before even giving them the right to vote, I find to be a bit demanding.

Also, this "language of business" silliness is a bit annoying- business is primarily conducted in whatever language is necesarry- in Québec, it's usually French, with English service often provided- In Ontario, it's in English, but with French, and sometimes Italian, Chinese, or whatever language also happens to be common locally, service provided.

I'm not saying we shouldn't encourage immigrants to learn French or English- we should- but I think there are better ways then to withold citizenship, and basic political rights (like voting rights) that come with it.


From: Sault Ste. Marie | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
clockwork
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posted 05 December 2001 07:41 PM      Profile for clockwork     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Opps, Judym… more egg on my face. Haha. I wonder who I was thinking of then.

And I think my ethnicity question got misconstrued.

quote:
Yet how easily we forget that none of our ethnic cultures seems to have produced poetry or literature or philosophy worthy of our consideration.

My question was based on Basoondath's claim here. I read into it to mean that you can't be ethnic and contribute to the culture, which I don't agree with.
In other words, I was being a bit facetious.

Pankaj:
???
I don't follow you. Bisoondath talks of "exocticized" culture, he says that multiculturalism is failing the immigrant communities. When I made that statement you quote, it means that I know there are a lot of known "ethnic" artists and philosophies or whatnot, but I can't name them. Hence, I'm not "exocticizing" it, nor does a policy of multiculturalism appear to putting a straightjacket onto any immigrant culture. Whatever is going on, I'm not tagging a ethnic groups cultural contribution as "ethnic".
An author is an author. I don't pick up a book and say, "this is a Mongolian-Canadian author so I'm not going to read it".

I'm starting to lose track of the debate here. Who else wants to get offended?

[ December 05, 2001: Message edited by: clockwork ]


From: Pokaroo! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 05 December 2001 07:47 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
English, it has been said, is the hardest language on earth to learn. I don't think that's entirely true, but it wouldn't surprise me if it were in the top-ten range... Anyway, expecting people to learn English (which could take YEARS AND YEARS!) before even giving them the right to vote, I find to be a bit demanding.

Just because English is one of the hardest inflected languages to learn is no excuse for going soft on people who should know it in order to transact in this society.

Just for the record, I am equally rigid and unforgiving about fluent English-speakers mutilating the language by using incorrect grammar.

[ December 05, 2001: Message edited by: DrConway ]


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Pankaj
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posted 05 December 2001 08:15 PM      Profile for Pankaj   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Clockwork, my apologies. My wrath was directed at Bisoondath and his high and mighty, though irrelevant pronouncements. Yes, they've really come to change the fabric of our society. He's just trying to be clever and make a name for himself. But, he's just making himself into an ass. What is wrong with encouraging richness and freedom? Whom does it not serve?
From: London, ON | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
meades
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 625

posted 05 December 2001 09:14 PM      Profile for meades     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Just because English is one of the hardest inflected languages to learn is no excuse for
going soft on people who should know it in order to transact in this society.

Just for the record, I am equally rigid and unforgiving about fluent English-speakers
mutilating the language by using incorrect grammar.


But I was refering to citizenship and political rights- why should they be limited for those who don't speak English or French? Sure, we should encourage the learning of the official languages for the sake of a society that can communicate properly- but should we be doing that by limmiting political rights?! I still think that is far too excessive! There are other, better ways of promoting effective communication than limiting rights, surely!

(BTW- REALLY sorry for my absolutely horrid grammar )

[ December 05, 2001: Message edited by: meades ]


From: Sault Ste. Marie | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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Babbler # 490

posted 05 December 2001 09:39 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Pray tell, meades, would you care to look at the requirements to get citizenship in other nations?
From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Pimji
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Babbler # 228

posted 05 December 2001 09:58 PM      Profile for Pimji   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Many of my family are immigrants and refugees. The older ones have a harder time but the children catch on in no time. The older ones who arrived in the 1920's and my father who arrived in 1956 have done amazingly well. Canada is a very different place for immigrants and refugees today.

I believe there is also a shift in Canada away from culture and community. The new paradigm is into making a buck. Language is only useful if it allows a person to get a better paying job of some type. In my experience the many non Franco Anglo Canadians I know doing precisely what they feel is expected of them to do. Make money, buy new cars and big new houses in the burbs. This is what is seen as fitting in. After a few years they do what most of the Canadian population does. Slog away at a job and hope for the best.
There is no manual to say what a person has to do in order to be accepted into Canadian society. My wife who came to Canada, with here family, from Cambodia in 1983 and had to figure out what this foreign place is for themselves. They didn’t even know what that white thing filled with the water in that room at the end of the hall was let alone what those small knobs on the wall are for. They figured everything out on their own.

There was help from a handful of other refugees who had formed a small association to help them get established so they could get food, cloths and some spending money. They also provided translation. The church also helped by getting families integrated enough by checking in to make sure the children where receiving health and dietary needs and to enroll them into school.

Imagine coming from a third world country and turning on a TV for the first time in your life and the first thing you see is Dallas?


From: South of Ottawa | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
meades
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Babbler # 625

posted 05 December 2001 09:58 PM      Profile for meades     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
DrC,...I know other nations are more restrictive- but that doesn't give us the right to be

[ December 05, 2001: Message edited by: meades ]


From: Sault Ste. Marie | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
audra trower williams
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Babbler # 2

posted 05 December 2001 11:22 PM      Profile for audra trower williams   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Well, it doesn't help them or us if they can't speak a word of English without sounding completely unintelligible, wouldn't you say?

It's really sad for me to read this, DrConway. I understand that you've chosen to go the oral route, re: your hearing loss, but when I think about the fact that many Deaf children who needed to use a Signed Language as their means of communication were (perhaps are) severly punished for doing so, I can't help but think that we should support tough linguistic choices that many people have to make.


From: And I'm a look you in the eye for every bar of the chorus | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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Babbler # 490

posted 06 December 2001 12:18 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
It wasn't exactly my choice to go the oral route. It was just an 'in-thing' back in the late 1970s for parents to mainstream hearing-impaired children by putting them into oral schools, and then rapidly integrating them into the normal school system.

End result: me.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
judym
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Babbler # 29

posted 06 December 2001 12:21 AM      Profile for judym   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
3,062 posts ...

Three-thousand and sixty-two posts???


From: earth | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
WingNut
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Babbler # 1292

posted 06 December 2001 12:23 AM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
End result: me.

So it was a dastardly thing to do. I bet those oral schools were conceived and run by pinko socialists.

From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 06 December 2001 12:30 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, as far as I can remember the teachers at the oral school were all women, so not only were they pinko socialists, they were pinko lesbian socialists.
From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Apemantus
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Babbler # 1845

posted 06 December 2001 04:49 AM      Profile for Apemantus        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Just because English is one of the hardest inflected languages to learn is no excuse for going soft on people who should know it in order to transact in this society.

Just for the record, I am equally rigid and unforgiving about fluent English-speakers mutilating the language by using incorrect grammar.



It's not a racist thing then, it's just a rigid approach, which frankly I disagree with whatever, because language is constantly evolving and to be rigid is to deny language the opportunity of being about individual expression and of being reinvented.

If Shakespeare had stuck to the rules...he wouldn't be around today...


From: Brighton, UK | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
Victor Von Mediaboy
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Babbler # 554

posted 06 December 2001 10:18 AM      Profile for Victor Von Mediaboy   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
So I was at the Ministry of Health office downtown to renew my Health Card. To my surprise, there was no line and I walked right in.

There was one guy there whose first language was obviously not English. He was having trouble understanding the forms and what he had to do.

Now, I was only overhearing the conversations so perhaps I am in no position to judge, but it seemed to me that the staff weren't being nearly as courteous to him as they could have been.

If the joint had been really busy and the staff was stressed out, I could understand. But the only customers there were myself, this dude, and one other person. Most of the staff there weren't doing anything.

Yeah, it's frustrating to deal with people whose command of the language isn't that strong, but if I was a new citizen in France or Germany and a government official was rude to me like that, I'd raise a shit-storm on their ass.

Of course, I'm a pretty impatient fellow so I'd probably be just as rude if I was in that situation. That's why I go for jobs where I don't have to deal with the public.

Also, the dude working the reception desk was also relatively rude to me, and I didn't raise a shit-storm on his ass, so who knows?

[ December 06, 2001: Message edited by: Kneel before MediaBoy ]


From: A thread has merit only if I post to it. So sayeth VVMB! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Whazzup?
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Babbler # 1471

posted 06 December 2001 11:43 AM      Profile for Whazzup?     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Margaret Talbot wrote a really thoughtful discussion of multiculturalism's influence on America in the NY Times Magazine a few weeks back. She raises the interesting point that multiculturalism paradoxically did nothing to attract students to the serious study of foreign cultures:

quote:
During the very years when the multicultural movement was extending its influence, the study of foreign languages was falling into a general malaise. Enrollments were dropping, the ranks of competent language instructors thinning out and foreign-language requirements quietly disappearing. For example, according to the American Council on Education, 34 percent of all four-year American colleges and universities made foreign-language study a graduation requirement in 1965, while only 20 percent do now. Since the 60's, the percentage of college students enrolled in language classes has shrunk by half. And for all the multiculti buzz about respecting and exploring other cultures, the number of students who studied abroad remained tiny, the length of their stays got shorter and the list of countries they preferred -- Germany, England, France -- scarcely diversified.

Also --

quote:
There are plenty of reasons that Americans don't flock to language study, from geographic isolation to our traditional assimilationist credo to the widespread use of English. We don't have to! But if multiculturalism is not precisely to blame, it is odd that a movement so flamboyantly dedicated to the celebration of cultural diversity did so little to check our tendencies to cultural isolationism. In fact, it may have reinforced them, by lulling us into the sense that we were getting a resoundingly global education when all we were really getting was a little Arundhati Roy here, a little Toni Morrison there. (In multiculturalism, somehow, black American culture was cast as other, even alien, when in fact it is as inextricably and influentially American as a culture can be.) Multiculturalism was easy, whereas deep knowledge of another place, predicated as it usually is on linguistic competence, is hard. Besides, the impulse behind multiculturalism was politicized inclusion. You were meant to reach out to groups with historical grievances against the white male population of the United States and to celebrate their accomplishments. It was the upbeat ethnic-festival approach, which is nice, but which also allows you to leave out a lot of groups, like those that speak difficult languages or live in rough neighborhoods of the world or don't seem to treat women particularly well.


Of course, September 11th may accomplish what multiculturalism never did.


From: Under the Rubble | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 06 December 2001 01:34 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
It's not a racist thing then, it's just a rigid approach, which frankly I disagree with whatever, because language is constantly evolving and to be rigid is to deny language the opportunity of being about individual expression and of being reinvented.

I think the proper term is "anal retentive"


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Apemantus
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1845

posted 06 December 2001 02:29 PM      Profile for Apemantus        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
I think the proper term is "anal retentive"


It may well be, I tried to think of an equivalent because I try and avoid insulting people personally on a message board as it makes for bad and pointless arguments!!

But my point was more to do with the Shakespeare thing. I get very agitated by newsreaders or newspapers that can't write grammatically or spell properly because it just looks like shoddy work but other than that, I think too much attention to detail on language is too restrictive and counterproductive. There are so many different styles of talking here in London, and I love them all, because they show the personality of the people that speak them. If we all spoke proper English, I would go mad!!


From: Brighton, UK | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
Trespasser
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Babbler # 1204

posted 06 December 2001 03:07 PM      Profile for Trespasser   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
As someone who is appalled by the ugliness of nation-state and prays for its disintegration every night before going to sleep, I enjoy seeing North American area opening itself to challenges of diversity ever more. Canada and the US have gone further than any European state in that regard, and the ball is in the European nations' part of the court now. I am aware that language and a set of legal rights and duties might be the last thing to found the commonnness of people in Canada and the US. Yet when I hear that a friend from Brooklyn had to learn some Spanish in order to be able to get a cab in her own city, that American children in many Texan schools start the day by singing Mexican hymns, that some welfare provisions to illegal immigrants are becoming regular part of the US budget - I can but rejoice.

I enjoy no less the fluctuating narration of Canadian nationality/citizenship. Hell, it seems that there is hope for the emergence of communities that are not based on essences.

I foundthis book interesting, as well as this one andthese resource.

And certain passages on nationality in the English Patient that I can't find right now.


From: maritimes | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
clockwork
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 690

posted 04 September 2002 05:11 PM      Profile for clockwork     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
You know when you've babbled way too much when you look back and find you've rewritten the same post on more than two occasions (and you're resurrecting threads instead of adding). Yeesh!

Anyway, Bissoondath surfaced in my paper today:

quote:
That might make it seem that Canada, with its policy of official multiculturalism, is way out ahead of everybody else. And in a limited way that is true, Blum agrees. "Toronto is more tolerant than Dublin, which is not yet multicultural. It's a city where they blame the 12 Nigerians who live there for every rash of credit-card fraud." By contrast, "In Toronto we can watch how diasporic businesses win over the established community and make a place for themselves."
But the researchers find that the idea of multiculturalism, which is enshrined in Canada through a 1988 act of Parliament, brings its own problems. It assumes that people wish to keep living in their ancestral culture, which as Trinidad-born writer Neil Bissoondath argued in Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada,is not necessarily true. Immigrants want to become Canadians, whatever that may mean.

Melting pot gets a Creole flavour

From: Pokaroo! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged

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