What is a visible minority? According to Stats Canada…

What is a visible minority?

 

Am I a Visible Minority? – even though I am a born and raised Canadian of 5 generations in the City of Vancouver?

 

Do Visible Minority’s have their own culture, or is it simply the non-culture of the Visible Majority?

 

Is
my cousin a member of the Visible Minority, even though her mother is a
member of the Visible Majority, and she looks more like the Anglo side
of the family, then her sister who looks more like the Asian side of
the family.

 

Is
my mother’s cousin a member of the Double Visible Minority, because her
father was of Chinese ancestry and her mother was of First Nations
ancestry – doubly discriminated against by the Visible Majority on both
sides of the family?

 

Stats
Canada released a report last week that suggested that “Visible
Minorities” will become “Visible Majorities” in Toronto and Vancouver.  This
is all based on statistics that infer that the Visible Minority
population is growing 6 times faster than the Visible Majority.  The report is tracking ethnicities reported in the census.

 

This interpretation raises much debate about how to view and interpret statistics.  A recent letter to the Vancouver Sun suggests that immigration would be a truer gauge of the supposed cultural shift.  This letter was written by Karen Ennyu, a  multi-generational Chinese Canadian like myself.  She writes that “English is my first and only language.”  This
is true for many multigenerational Asian-Canadians, African-Canadians
and First Nations peoples who all love to cheer during the Stanley Cup
playoffs, drink Molson’s beer, singalong to old songs by Gordon
Lightfoot, Anne Murray and even Celine Dion. 

 

 

How do we measure culture?  How do we measure assimilation?  How do we measure interest in one’s cultural ancestry?  It is widely known that I have taken a lively interest in Scottish culture – due mostly to the creation of Gung Haggis Fat Choy.  I
have been thanked repeatedly by many Canadians from racially mixed
families and heritage for representing the kind of world that properly
recreates the way their family looks like.  Well, gee… it sort of looks like mine with all my cousins and an uncle or aunt or two marrying somebody non-Chinese…  That’s just the way love is sometimes, non-discriminating…

 

This
all makes one wonder how did the First Nations people start reacting to
the news from their local shamanic staticians making the announcement
that the Visible Minority of White settlers to the area would soon
outnumber the Visible Majority who had lived along the inlets and banks
of the lands inhabited by the Salish Peoples since the beginning of
time as they knew it?

 

Did they react by saying we have to limit immigration, by imposing a head tax to deter them.  And
if they keep coming, we will raise the head tax repeatedly to an
astronomical sum that will cost them 10 years of wages. And if they
keep coming after that, we will impose an Exclusion Act that will ban
them outright, not based on country of origin but on the colour of
their skin.

 

The colour of their skin.

That’s what being a Visible Minority is about.  It’s about other-ness, and being labled by the people in the Majority.

 


 
 
What
happens when the Romeo’s and the Juliet’s of the different tribes fall
in love, defying their parents’wishes, get married and start having
babies.  Do we define these New Canadians as Half-Visible Majority and Half-Visible Minority?

 
Or do we agree that we become greater than the sum of our parts.
Multiculturalism,
as we know it, helped us to give value to our visible minority cultures
and traditions, rather than to create a negative self-identity that
continues to haunt many of the Canadians born of the many ethnic
ancestries that suffered through the Potlatch Law, Chinese Head Tax and
Exclusion Act, and Japanese Enemy-Alien Re-location camps.

 
Canada to me, is truly One family that shares many cultural heritages from around the world.  It
is just like my family, where my uncles, aunts and cousins have married
people from different nationalities from around the world, including
First Nations. 

 
It is time for Canada to move beyond the colonial language and mentality of Visible Majority / Visible Minority into the 21st Century.  We
can still recognize where are ancestors came from without imposing the
immigrant behavior of Euro-centric or Asian-centric viewpoints into
Canadian society.  Canadians of European,
Asian and African ancestry have been in this country long enough to
evolve our own unique blends of culture and Canadianess where we can
simultaneously embrace where we have come from, and where we are going
on a global scale.

 

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