Is being an ethnic Canadian a 50/50 split? or is being multicultural 100% x ethnicity(s) + 100% Canadian?
What percentage do we consider ourselves ethnic? or Canadian?
This idea presented itself to me while I was sitting on the CRTC
judicial hearing for Planet Radio presented by CHUM. I was invited to be part of the Planet Radio community advisory committee by Prem Gill, host of ColourTV, a weekly show on CityTV about diversity in culture.
The CRTC vice-chair
was labouring over questions about Planet Radio's proposals of what
percentage of the music programming would be in English or French
language vs non-English or French. Planet Radio proposed a
minimum of 20% music programming for non-English or French, while 35%
programming would be Canadian.
It is important to address the fact that the panel was 100% visibly
white. While some CRTC judges may be francophone or part First
Nations, that doesn't necessarily make them appear visibly any less
white. English is just the official language of Canada, as is
French. You can be 100% Anglophone, 100% Francophone, and 100%
Canadian – just as Pierre Trudeau was, as his father was
French-Canadian and his mother was Scottish/English Canadian.
Even CHUM interactive Vice President Roma Khanna and I speak better
French than Hindi or Chinese, that's just how Canadian we are.
ethnic population feels the same about our individual
multi-heritage: There are no rules or definitions how we classify
ourselves such as being 20% Anglophone, 20% French, 10%
aboriginal, or 50% Chinese… unless you are applying to be a Status
Ndidi Cascade was also
part of the advisory committee with me. While her father was
Nigerian and her mother Irish and Italian, she is NOT 50% African, 25%
Celtic, 25% Mediterranean. She can be 100%
Nigerian-Canadian, 100% Irish-Canadian; 100% Italian-Canadian, which
all adds up to 100% Canadian. We are truly more than the sum of
our ethnic DNA cells. First Nations musicians singing in their
aboriginal tongue is neither English or French – do we classify them as
“foreign language?” Canadians born of Asian or African heritage,
sing about their cultural ancestry in English – do we classify them as
non-global, or English language?
We don't live our lives by
saying it is 4pm, time to be Chinese for an hour. We draw on all
of our life and cultural experiences throughout the day – just like our
musical programming. Take Robbie Robertson, Angelique Kidu, Les
Nubians, Nelly Furtado, Bebel Gilberto, Tan Dun, Buffy Sainte-Marie,
Curtis Clear Sky and put them in the cd play and just hit “shuffle”.
We are now post-multiculturalism. 30 years ago, there were no
radio stations catering to the Vancouver ethnic immigrant
populations. CRTC would never have granted an individual licence
to address the Canadian born Chinese population for a Co-op Radio
program like “Pender Guy”
about Chinese Canadian youth issues – but it still played an important
part in the evolution of Chinese Canadian culture.
Multiculturalism wraps every ethnic group up in a little
box and orders it in little pigeon hole stereotypes for easier
Asian Canadians are now 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and even 7th generation Canadians like my Chan family descendents.
Many of us are now inter-racially married. We are
now all part of the mainstream – and yet are still marginalized as
the radio licences are given to new immigrants to address new immigrant
issues. Our music scene has changed, the technology has changed,
and radio programming must change to meet the concerns of youth and
aboriginal culture and our changing Canadian culture.
Canadians speak English – so it's harder to find us through ethnic
media and communication channels. We are the “invisible”
visible-minority. We are inter-cultural, proud of our ancestry
while sharing the diverse cultures of each other, and also perhaps of
our 4 differently diverse grand parents. Traditional immigrants
tend to predominately remember the culture as it was when they left
their homeland. This is why the many Chinatowns, Japantowns, Little
Italy's and Little India's all seem to be stuck in time. But cultures
evolve, they change, they morph, they mix, and they integrate.
That is why the Silk Road in Asia was so important – all the cultures
exchanged information, rather than institute isolationist policies
where you could only speak one language or address one culture at a
100% English speaking, 100% ethnic Chinese-Canadian, 100% West Coast, 100% global, 100% Canadian – that's me!