This week, CBC News and the Angus Reid Institute released a poll showing that 68 per cent of Canadian respondents believe immigrants should be doing more to fit in, as opposed to clinging on to their own customs and languages.
But not surprisingly hundreds of thousands of first-generation Chinese, South Asian and Middle-Eastern immigrants won’t have a clue as to what they need to do in order to fit in because the poll doesn’t offer suggestions and most Canadians, polite as they are won’t want to offend or sound racist by saying how they would really like immigrants to fit in. So for those in need of some enlightenment on the issue, here’s my take based on conversations I’ve had with Canadians and new immigrants coupled with my own observations.
The problem is that many new immigrants are cultural if not religious fanatics. From the time they touch down as landed immigrants they will spare no effort to create ties with organizations and associations from ‘back home’. They socialize almost exclusively within people from the old country. Many are terrified of losing their culture, tradition and old ways of life. Worse still, they actively discourage their kids from ‘being Canadian’. If immigrant parents don’t permit their kids to socialize with Canadians, refuse to let them go on sleep overs or on dates, the second-generation ends up socializing mostly with people from their own backgrounds. While Chinese immigrants who may not speak a word of English fit in simply because they wear western clothing get away, South Asian immigrants in colorful ethnic wear stand out prominently.
In Mississauga a large number of parents are cramming culture and religion down the throats of their children. They have way too many restrictions that end up being barriers to integration. Many parents who aren’t fluent in English could really benefit by conversing with their Canadian-born children in English but instead insist on talking their native language to their children because to them it is more important that their children know the language of the country they left. When so many new immigrants buy homes in established communities, they fail to join community groups because they aren’t conversant in English. Because they lack the exposure to other cultures, they sometimes don’t understand norms and traditions that have existed before they got here. Take the upcoming Halloween for example, few immigrant homes end up decorating, handing out treats and participating in such a fun activity. How do Canadians feel when so many immigrant children go out collecting candy while their parents darken their porches so they don’t have to hand out candy?
A year ago, two immigrant families bought homes in my neighborhood. The women absolutely refuse to say hello to any male neighbors and the men barely say hello to anyone on the street. It is not that they are introverted or shy, because on weekends they have plenty of friends and family over and in their own language, they are gregarious and fun-loving. I guess the 68 per cent of Canadians are talking about such immigrants whom they believe should make more of an effort to fit in.
Now that is not to say Canadians always warmly embrace honorary Whites like myself. This is an issue that needs to be addressed because Canada will continue to be dependent on immigration to keep its birth rate steady and the economy healthy. But what’s equally important is to have a healthy society where the races get along and work together. Ideally 68 per cent of Canadians should embrace immigrants, currently they are merely tolerating the ‘strangers’ in their midst. That is more than evident.