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Richmond Hill, Ont. to ban the number four – This is Multiculturalism

Richmond Hill, Ont. to ban the number four – This is Multiculturalism

As an immigrant in the 60s, Canada is home. I lived in England, the US but chose Canada as there was comfort in how it was growing and understanding the world in which I wanted to live. Not perfect with the treatment of minority groups it was trying to change. We came from all over the world in the 60s to live together. Friends were from different cultures and ethnic groups. We were a Cosmopolitan space in the GTA and Toronto. Yes, there were groups who lived in enclaves in the city. However, their children mixed with everyone. With a high ethnic population today groups cluster together reinforcing their norms and values from their countries of origin not allowing integration into the larger Canadian society. There is a lack of inclusion, a lack of true mixing of the second generation.
What is difficult to understand is why one ethnic group with a larger population thinks it should get it way and why there is a lack of understanding that many of us left our countries to get away from that very thinking and from the divisiveness that exists in Asia, Africa and many parts of the world. Yes, Canada is Eurocentric but we knew this before we came.
One group with a larger ethnic population than another ethnic group within the same space can get what it wants despite the other group’s wishes. This is how strife is currently occurring in the Middle East between religious groups as well as different ethnic groups in that region. In Myanmar/Burma a new democracy they are trying to come together and stop fighting each other – this is a difficult process, hard to achieve. We saw the interment of our Japanese citizens in Canada during WW2. Why are we using Multiculturalism to build differences rather than coming together in diversity to celebrate what is means to be Canadian. To do this we have to leave our exclusions and bring our inclusions to Canada. When our culture teaches us that women are not equal, we leave that when we come to Canada. We do not come to Canada to change woman’s rights already achieved. The same goes for other rights.

Going down Young Street where Toronto starts, I find the signage to be confusing with scripts jumping out and making for what I call ‘Eye pollution’. Ethnic groups who want their own people to use their shops are not very neighbourly or considerate. It is only about their group with no consideration for those of us who need to find a place while driving, or an elderly person living in the area of a different background finding it difficult to read the signs. This is about civility – we are living in Canada and not in that country. Why are those of us who are not from that ethnic group subjective on a main street to this signage?
Now I hear that the Number 4 is not to be used in housing in Richmond Hill. This is wrong. The Chines do not have to buy #4 homes. This would be good for the city as it would then allow those who do not have the Si – 4 meaning death to buy those homes and make the city more cosmopolitan. Why is this issue important? There are numbers in every culture with meanings and their our words that are not politically correct. We need to be free to choose and speak.
I speak about The Cappuccino Principle and how the cream on the top needs mixing. We are very sure about racism and how we need more equity – we write about this openly. Yet the same scholars who speak to this are silent when ethnic groups push for their views over the views of other ethnic groups or the dominant group. What gives Diaspora groups more rights than the white population?  My answer:  we are afraid of being called intolerant. Politicians and city officials are scared of the loss of votes in the next election.

Merle Jacobs

From Rangoon to London then to Canada, now home. Professor at York U in Toronto. Equity Studies.

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