Canadians want immigrants to fit in, they are darn right!

Pradip Rodrigues


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.


Pradip Rodrigues started out as a journalist at Society magazine, part of the Magna Group in Mumbai. He wrote extensively on a variety of subjects. He later moved to the Times of India where he was instrumental in starting the now defunct E-times, a television magazine. He conceptualized Bombay Times and became its first assistant editor where he handled features and page three. Since coming to Canada in 2000, he has freelanced for newspapers and magazines in India and written autobiographies for seniors.

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  1. Crish
    October 8, 2016 at 7:41 am Reply

    French speaker never left their language and its a national language. I don’t think speaking in native language or any other language is bad in itself. What is needed is that you always speak in a language which understandable to all when in a group setting.

    Neither is clothing habits, but what is important is that nothing is forced on you and one is free to wear what he/she feels comfortable in.

    Religion has been there and will be there but religion shouldn’t interfere in personal freedom in any form.

    I am a brown man and perfectly happy being categorised as brown, the way we categorise white. Why be apologetic about who we are.

    My English will never match that of native speaker, not because I don’t try bit I just cannot get it to that level being first generation. So I try to speak to have conversation trying to be clear to make myself understandable.

  2. Darshan
    October 8, 2016 at 4:20 pm Reply

    Pradeep Ji,

    While Canadians may want immigrants to blend in, Canadian politicians want the exact opposite. That way, it is easier for them to target whole vote-banks at election time.

    They encourage those among us, who are so inclined, to remain within our ghettos, appeasing ever-increasing demands for accommodation for newcomers. So we have asinine situations wherein one cannot mention the word ‘Christmas’ when wishing someone, but a special provision is made to allow the bursting of fire-crackers on Diwali. Any mainstream Canadian objecting to the latter is immediately termed a racist.

    Many such examples can be cited whereby obstacles to integration are created in the name of ‘understanding’ or ‘pluralism’ or any similar lofty-sounding term.

    The bottom line for me is that the fault for the newcomers not integrating well in Canadian society lies on both the sides.

  3. abi
    October 28, 2016 at 4:32 pm Reply

    New immigrants must try to do everything possible to assimilate .Assimilation is not a choice but must be mandatory .
    It is the immigrants responsibility to do the best as they have made the request to be allowed to come to Canada and allowed to live here .
    None of the beliefs religious / social should interfere with the Canadian way of like or used to ask special permissions or make people around us feel uncomfortable . Religion and native language should be kept within a persons house and life .No need to flaunt it . Also accept the fact while requesting for immigration that Canada is a majority christian country 67% and it will be reflected in the way of life accordingly . If one is uncomfortable with this then Canada is not the place for them.
    Government should also come up with a strategy for avoiding formations of Ghettos of any specific race .Being Canadian is all about assimilation and mixing with each other respectfully with Liberal views.

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