Edmonton, July 31 (CINEWS) As the immigration pattern shifts in Canada and more and more immigrants bypass the traditional immigrant gateway cities like Toronto and Vancouver, they are moving directly to cities like Edmonton and Calgary. With numbers of Chinese
and South Asians increasing, so are the sizes of the ethnic enclaves. Can-India reached out to Sandeep Agrawal a Professor and Inaugural Director of the Planning program at the University of Alberta. His research works focuses on multiculturalism, human rights and public policy. He has been studying and observing the evolution of ethnic enclaves and has a few thoughts when it comes to talking about the pros and cons of such enclaves.
Are ethnic enclaves filled with visible minorities getting larger?
Yes. South Asian and Chinese enclaves have grown between 2006 and 2011. Many of these ethnic concentrations now have more South Asians and Chinese living in them than before. New concentrations of Filipinos and African blacks and Caribbeans have emerged (mostly secondary in nature though), which are inevitable, as more and more immigrants from these two groups arrive in Canada and particularly in the Toronto area. Many of the Jewish and Portuguese enclaves have dissipated over time, making way to the new groups.
Do you see it becoming an issue in the years to come?
The issues in the future may arise if the spaces in these neighbourhoods become exclusive in nature. The impact may also be felt in schools where students may not get a chance to interact with children from other ethnic groups.
What are the pros and cons of immigrants choosing to living in ethnic enclaves?
There are a number of advantages of ethnic enclaves – sustains community life; helps foster social networks, neighbourliness and mutual support; lays the basis of ethnic economy; promotes cultural and physical diversity of a city; creates new centres of interest and entertainment.
Disadvantages: under certain conditions, could lead to “ghettoization”, isolate children of immigrant and impede their acculturation to diversity, stereotyping of immigrants and restrict employment opportunities by limiting their encounters. I must add though that this is not the situation in Canadian cities.
There could be a case to be made about ethnic minorities living in mixed neighborhoods as a means of integrating faster. Your thoughts?
Unfortunately, there is no policy to compel people where they can settle. And it is against our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Mixed neighbourhoods can be achieved only by providing choices of housing type – from single-detached, semi-detached, townhouses to condos – geared towards different income groups.