Friday, December 3, 2010

Another reason I don't like the local newspaper

This is a quote from a letter that was published in the local newspaper in which the writer was objecting to using the term "holiday" instead of "christmas"
"Immigrants don't change my way of life, they change theirs to ours --or go back to where they came from."
I almost think this isn't worth commenting on because it seems so ridiculous... when i see a comment like this online I usually ignore it, but this was published in our local newspaper, which I believe gives it the illusion of seeming more valid than if it were just a comment online.

Does the writer not realize that unless they are aboriginal, they too are immigrants to Canada? And I'm pretty sure that Santa Clause didn't visit indigenous children before Europeans settled on the land that we now know as Canada.

Canada is supposed to be multicultural, which should mean that nobody has to change their beliefs or practices in order to fit in, but what actually happens is that the dominant culture becomes the norm, and all other practices become otherized. They are seen as something that is not normal, and not as good as "real" Canadian (euro-centric) cultures and traditions.

There was a recent news story about the citizenship test being more difficult than ever before, which conforms entirely to this notion that if immigrants do not know "our" culture, they should not be in "our" country. I would like to quiz your average Canadian citizen about indigenous cultures just to see what happens... I probably wouldn't pass that test.


  1. This rise of anti-immigrant sentiment might be connected to the fact that multicultural reforms (as liberal and ultimately protective, as you point out, of the normative settler culture) succeed in making token changes that offend white power. Now that being white and male does not mean that you are automatically guaranteed the best job (though it is still an advantage just not a 100% guarantee), the privileged seem to think that every multicultural change somehow victimizes them. That Macleans article about universities that used a "yellow peril" is another example of this sentiment.

  2. It looks like in this regard you share a nice big issue with those of use south of your border. Most people born in the US can't even come close to passing our citizenship test. Most people, for example, can't name a Supreme Court case outside of Roe v. Wade and most of them can't name a President beyond the last few or the first couple. And yet, they are the REAL Americans. Maybe we can solve this one together.

  3. On the subject of aboriginal culture: it's hard to believe how little we know of subjects such as history, political organization and creation myths, let alone medicine and food/agriculture. It should be compulsory in every Canadian classroom to learn something of First Nations cultures from the area around the school, or from the province. When I was teaching ESL and FSL, I tried to include as many stories and legends as I could as part of reading and conversation exercises. However, there are few resources for grades 1-8.

  4. I agree that it should be taught in every classroom. I don't remember ever learning about aboriginal culture in a classroom. I think we had a traditional dancer of some sort come to the school once and we saw her dance in the gym, but that was about the extent of it.