Summer is a time when hundreds of senior parents of South Asians visit Canada. In smaller towns and cities, you can quite literally spot visiting senior South Asian seniors as they amble along the sidewalks, oftentimes gazing at a bed of flowers or gawking at something or the other that catches their attention. But in places like Brampton and Mississauga one can’t tell the difference between a South Asian senior visiting for the summer or a senior Canadian citizen who has lived here for decades.
A Brampton-based acquaintance currently has her parents visiting for the first time and naturally they were thrilled to be in Canada and spent the first few days exploring their surroundings, they were taken to Niagara Falls, the malls etc., but after a week, the visiting father bluntly asked: “Where do the white people live? Everywhere I go I only see desi people-in the mall, in the neighborhood, in the parks… The only whites I see are on television.”
The daughter who I know was quite embarrassed because their neighborhood like many in Brampton and Mississauga are teeming with brown people. She ended up making a couple of frantic calls to her friends asking of all things if they knew of any specific neighborhoods and enclaves that had a predominantly white people in the GTA?
She knew parts of the city popular with Tamils, Chinese and Indian but when it came to areas of the city dominated by whites, she discovered that even areas she once assumed to be white were actually not the case. She then took her parents to Georgetown which still has a large white population although that won’t be the case in the next decade. She drove around Guelph and a few other neighborhoods in Kitchener and Hamilton, especially some of the older parts and her parents clicked a few pictures and exclaimed: “This is the real Canada.”
And although many Indian visitors to Canada are aware Canada is diverse, they are shocked to see the numbers.
Indian visitors do not consider their families and other Indians who’ve immigrated to Canada to be real Canadians. When they visit Canada, they expect to see a lot more white people and are disappointed when they find too many people looking just like them. One senior I once met grumbled that his son’s neighborhood reminded him of a Punjabi village in India!
Let’s face it most Indian people, immigrants and visitors to Canada like to see whites living in our neighborhoods. They are like eye candy. I’ve met South Asian immigrants who’ve boasted to me about the number of whites on their street and that they were the only brown family. Of course, they were very irritated when another South Asian family moved in a couple of houses away.
The question posed by the senior visitor to his daughter about where whites live is something that has probably crossed the minds of many immigrants in Brampton and Mississauga and elsewhere in the GTA.
When a family moves out of a neighborhood, it is a fair bet that the next family will be a non-white immigrant, there is a high probability that it will be a multi-generational family or a family that rents out its basement to a renter. Whites, lets face it are moving out or are badly outnumbered. You won’t find a single white who will admit that he or she has moved or plans to move because their neighborhoods are turning too brown, black or Chinese and when they leave you have no idea where they’ve gone. It’s like they’ve gone to Area 51 and simply vanished!
It is not that white flight happens overnight or because a couple of non-white families have moved into the neighborhood, it happens when 7 out of ten homes on their street are bought by non-whites and they become a minority. Few white families want to be the last white family on the block if they can help it.
It is not that most whites are racists, it is one thing living a neighborhood made up of 50 percent white and the rest being non-white. When the balance shifts no one seems happy.
I’ve met a Hindu South Asian who moved out of one neighborhood in Mississauga because he was outnumbered by another ethnic group. He moved into a neighborhood in Milton which was ten years ago mostly white but of late is changing color rapidly. And I am sure he is planning a move to Acton, Ontario next.
South Asians like having white people in their neighborhood because their presence is reassuring and says a lot about the desirability of the neighborhood. -CINEWS