New Canadian Media

Commentary by: Arvind Magesan in Calgary, AB

The Conversation

Statistics Canada has released new data from the 2016 census that shows more than any other G8 country, Canada is a nation of immigrants. One in five Canadians (21.9 per cent to be exact) were born in another country.

Immigration is a significant component of Canada’s population growth and evolving demographic composition. The census data shows more than 1.2 million new immigrants came to Canada between 2011-16. Immigrants are also typically younger and more educated than the average Canadian.

Not surprisingly then, immigration is often touted as a necessary condition for sustained economic prosperity. And yet in spite of their ostensible importance to the Canadian economy, immigrants themselves have yet to catch up to other Canadians in terms of economic outcomes.

Economists refer to this catching up as “economic assimilation” and often measure it using the “native-immigrant wage gap” — the difference between the average wages of immigrants and those whose families have been here at least three generations. The persistence of this wage gap is a feature common to economies in the Western world that rely heavily on immigration.

As an economist and a child of immigrants myself, I was curious to delve into the census data to understand how this gap has evolved over time and across major cities in Canada — and to get a hint of what may be at the root of it.

The first thing that surprised me is the gap has not changed much over the past 10 years. Census data from 2006 showed, at a national level, first-generation immigrants earned wages 12.6 per cent less than the average wage of native Canadians. In 2011, the gap dropped slightly to 10 per cent, but the new census data shows it’s climbed significantly to 16 per cent.

Importantly, the gap is a countrywide phenomenon. Looking at the three of the most popular destinations for immigrants in the past decade — Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary — the gap in 2016 sits at 25, 17 and 23 per cent respectively.

Interestingly, the gap doesn’t only exist for first-generation immigrants, but also for the children of immigrants (second generation, i.e. Canadians born to immigrant parents). The new data shows at the national level, second-generation immigrants earn 5.4 per cent less than natives.

Understanding the wage gap

The obvious question that follows then is: What is the source of these gaps?

Canada is an especially interesting case given the “points” system used to screen potential immigrants, where language, education and job skills are key determinants. And for the first time, the census has reported that about six out 10 new immigrants came here under the so-called economic admission category, meaning they have the skills “to enhance and promote economic development.”

Given the way immigrants are screened before entry, one would expect relatively quick integration into the Canadian economy and a convergence in wages. But this is clearly not the case.

The reasons put forward to explain the wage gap range from employer difficulty in assessing immigrant education credentials to outright discrimination. Economists refer to two types of “discrimination” in the labour market context, “statistical discrimination” and “taste-based discrimination.”

In the former, employers use observable traits (such as race) to make inferences about something like productivity. For example, an employer sees a job applicant with brown skin. The employer isn’t prejudiced towards brown people, but is worried (stereotypically) the employee is going to want to take trips “home” to Sri Lanka and would need a lot of vacation time. So the employer hires someone else equally qualified. Taste-based discrimination is more what we think of as prejudice — not wanting to hire someone purely because of skin colour.

Identifying causal factors that explain the wage gap is a difficult task - individuals who immigrate to Canada do so by choice. These choices are a function of a host of factors that could potentially jointly explain the decision to immigrate and labour market outcomes, including personal characteristics, job experience and education, to name just a few. Identifying discrimination in the labour market, and separating between taste-based and statistical discrimination, is even harder.

However, a 2011 study by University of Toronto economist Phil Oreopolous takes an important step in this direction.

In the study, thousands of computer-generated resumes were mailed out to companies that had posted ads searching for employees. The resumes were randomly assigned either a foreign or a “white” sounding last name, and were otherwise identical. The result: The resumes where the applicant had a foreign-sounding last name were less likely to receive a call back than identical looking resumes with a “white” last name.

When the author followed up with some of the recruiters, the overwhelming reason given for overlooking resumes with a foreign-sounding name was that they anticipated difficulty with language. Specifically, recruiters expected a lack of fluency in English, problems with communicating at work and difficulty for customers and co-workers in understanding a foreign accent. In other words, recruiters were statistically discriminating between job candidates based on their names.

Can language proficiency close the gap?

The census presents an opportunity to study the importance of English proficiency for the gap in labour market earnings between immigrants and native Canadians in 2016. The census provides information on wages, immigrant (and generation) status, as well as the language most commonly spoken at home.

Specifically, guided by the findings in Oreopolous’s study, I looked at how the gap in average wages changes when English is spoken at home. (For the purpose of this study, I looked at communities outside of Quebec, where French is the dominant language.) In 2016, 63 per cent of new immigrants living outside of Quebec most often spoke a language other than English or French while at home.

The latest census data says the native-first generation immigrant wage gap is 16 per cent at the national level. Once we examine whether immigrants speak English at home, things change — the wage difference is just 5.8 per cent. But for first-generation immigrants who don’t speak English at home, the gap jumps to 27.3 per cent.

For second-generation immigrants, there is barely any gap for those who speak English at home (0.7 per cent) but it’s still a significant gap for those who don’t speak English at home (a whopping 45.7 per cent).

This pattern also holds in the major metropolitan centres in the English-speaking parts of the country, which attract the most immigrants.

Interestingly, at almost 25 per cent, Toronto has one of the largest city level wage gaps in the country, explained at least in part by the fact that new immigrants tend to land in Toronto first and are more likely to be unemployed for a period of time. The three largest cities in English-speaking Canada, which also attract the most immigrants, also have gaps larger than the national average.

In Ottawa, immigrants of either generation who speak English at home actually earn more than natives on average. While it may be tempting to attribute the major differences across the cities to differences in culture, they are more likely due to regional differences in industrial composition and attendant labour demand.

The wage gap for immigrants who don’t speak English at home is very large. In Toronto and Calgary, first-generation immigrants who don’t speak English at home can expect to earn 37 per cent less than natives. Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that the gap across all cities for is larger for second generation immigrants who don’t speak English at home.

Though these patterns are striking, they should not be interpreted as causal – immigrants can’t necessarily start speaking English at home and expect to see their future earnings increase. There are unobserved qualities of individuals that may correlate both with the tendency to speak English at home as well as with labour market earnings potential. Without holding these fixed in some way, we can’t say whether there is a causal relationship between English skills and the gap in labour market outcomes.

But supposing that the findings here are suggestive of a causal relationship, why does speaking English at home matter so much?

One obvious answer is that individuals who speak English at home speak better English in general — and this would mean better communication at work. This would be consistent with the worries that the recruiters in Oreopolous’s study had when deciding who to call back. Or perhaps individuals of foreign descent that speak English at home tend to have other important skills on average.

But another possibility is the labour market discriminates against individuals with weaker English skills even when English is not important for productivity. Sorting between these different explanations (and others) will require more data and a deeper look.


Arvind Magesan is an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Calgary.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Published in Commentary
Thursday, 22 September 2016 09:31

Alberta Needs to Rethink French Curriculum

Commentary by Salim Valji in Edmonton

Memorizing adjectives and pronouns did little more than create a resentment for having to learn French in the first place. Meanwhile, speaking the language took a backseat.

The sentiment above is true for many students who grew up learning French in Alberta, including myself. Lessons often consist of listing the gender pronoun (le, la, les) of nouns, and writing simple, declarative sentences.

Entire classes would be spent learning, relearning and being tested on memorization techniques like DR MRS VANDERTRAMP. Homework was more of the same … verb charts, fill-in-the-blanks and vocabulary.

See a trend here?

Throughout elementary and junior high, the method was always memorize first, ask questions later. Speaking French was never a priority until high school and accent training was seldom mentioned.

Learning to hate French

I queried my friends on social media: I was not alone. 

“My experience was terrible as well! I took French for eight years and can't speak a word if it,” one friend wrote. “It was all memorizing nouns and watching videos. It's such a beautiful language. I really wish they had taught it better. I’d love to know it.”

Another added: “I learned more German in four months than I did French in eight years in school. I think using an online program like Duolingo and setting goals might help. Also, so many BS tests on conjugating verbs made me hate French.”

The most profound comment came from someone somewhat older who said that like hundreds of others, she hated going to French class as a student. It speaks of a system that doesn’t know how to educate its students on Canada’s other official language.

Moving to a bilingual setting

When I was 20, I moved to Montreal. Despite taking French courses for 13 years, I was completely unprepared to live and work in a bilingual environment. It took me minutes to form short phrases, my vocabulary was extremely limited and I barely understood what was being said to me.

My perspective changed even further when I moved to France to work as an English Language Assistant at a high school in the Parisien suburbs. Alberta, and the rest of Canada, can learn much from how the French teach second languages.

From my first sessions with 12-year-old students, I could tell that they already spoke better English than I did French. Their sentences were clear, vocabulary strong and they knew how to express ideas.

Communication of ideas is what my role was focused on. I’d take groups of 10 to 12 students to my classroom, and, in my authentically Albertan accent, speak English to them. Often times, the lessons were planned with their English teacher, based on what they were learning in class.

The topics we talked about included the civil rights movement, the lives of historic figures like Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi and differences between North American and European culture.

Sometimes, I’d pose an open-ended question on the whiteboard and cross my fingers hoping that my students would pipe up.  That method usually led to great, enjoyable conversations —like the time where we spent an entire class talking about the sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” and how Robin Scherbatsky embodies certain Canadian stereotypes.

My students would speak their ideas and I’d correct them in real time. I was always amazed at how well they could speak about complex subjects in English.

The two most common mistakes they made were not pronouncing the h sound for words like “home” and “happy,” and saying “the” as zee or “there” as zerre. Beyond the simple correcting of grammar, my students received a language education I never had as a student … speaking and writing with someone fluent in the other language.

They learned to understand my accent. They questioned my usage of certain vocabulary and mimicked how I said things.

Need for spontaneity

So much of communication is situational and spontaneous: Where an event took place, what the score was, why someone was late for something.

The method of memorization forces students to retrieve information they retained and disposed of years ago. It also fosters a distaste of learning the language — the second anything becomes a chore, it becomes something we detest. It’s impossible to expect students, in the middle of conversation to recall what they were force-fed in some classroom years back.

It’s understandable that revamping the province’s French curriculum may not be high on Alberta Education’s priority list. Opportunities to speak the language organically are extremely limited—less than 25 000 of the province’s 3.6 million people identify French as the language the speak most often at home.

That being said, we need a conversation about whether the memorize-at-all-costs approach should be retired. Right now, that approach is leading Alberta students to despise — as opposed to appreciate — the French language.

Salim Valji is a media professional based in Montreal, Quebec. He is originally from Edmonton and has worked in Paris and New York City. 

Published in Education

by Christopher Cheung in Vancouver

Queenie Lai’s parents often call her a “white girl,” because she likes eating western food.

But in fact, though born in Canada, 23-year-old Lai is more in tune with her Chinese heritage than many of her peers. Growing up she studied Cantonese with a private tutor. She watched Hong Kong soaps on TV. She’s even acted in a Chinese theatre group, performing in legends like Mulan and a play based on the life of Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

“When I visit Hong Kong, people ask me, ‘Why is your Cantonese so good?’” Lai said. “I tell them, well, I grew up speaking it at home.”

Lai also lives in a very Chinese community, but one very different from the ethnic Chinatowns or Little Italys of the last century. Then, immigrants from Asia, Europe, and elsewhere clustered in inner-city neighborhoods, often not the best, to be close to others who shared their history.

By contrast, Lai grew up in Richmond, British Columbia, a bustling modern suburb that, away from its wetland trails, fresh produce farms, and the quaintly historic fishing village of Steveston, can feel like a mirror of East Asia. If you speak Chinese here, you can see a doctor, get a haircut, attend a church, buy a house or car—all without uttering a word in English.

But Richmond isn’t the only suburb with strong overseas influence. It’s an example of a growing demographic trend that’s turning the patterns of the last century on their head. Geographers call it the “ethnoburb,” and others have appeared outside longtime immigrant cities like Toronto, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Melbourne in Australia, and Auckland, New Zealand.

Many ethnoburbs have more immigrants as a share of their total population than their associated urban cores, and often more than native-born residents. According to the 2011 National Household Survey, more than two-thirds of Richmond residents—69 per cent—are immigrants to Canada.

The same survey found that Surrey, a South Asian ethnoburb next door, has an immigrant population of 40 per cent. It’s also home to lavish sari shops and Indian wedding banquet halls on a scale beyond that found in Vancouver proper.

Markham, outside Toronto, has a 58 per cent immigrant population; Richmond Hill, 55 per cent. The Melbourne suburb of Glen Waverly is half immigrants.

But while cities and suburbs undergo new transformations, getting along with new neighbours brings the same tensions as around the ethnic enclaves of old.

Breaking a stereotype

The term “ethnoburb” dates to 1997. Chinese-born geographer Wei Li coined the phrase for a phenomenon she encountered when she moved to Los Angeles to study in 1991.

A professor suggested that rather than find a place to live in Los Angeles’ Chinatown area, she try the suburbs.

“You are Chinese, right?” Li recalls the professor asking. “Why don’t you live in Monterey Park, in the San Gabriel Valley? That’s a Chinese area, you would feel very comfortable.”

Li was puzzled. The stereotype she knew was that North American suburbs were populated with white working dads, stay-at-home moms, and their children. In contrast, the inner city was for immigrants.

But when she saw Monterey Park for herself, she was in for a surprise.

“Had it not been for the heavy automobile traffic and frequent gas stations, I could almost imagine that I was back walking in Beijing,” she wrote of the experience.

San Gabriel Valley in Los Angeles County is home to a shopping centre known as “the great mall of China,” where restaurants serve Mongolian hot pot and spicy chili-and-cumin Hunan. A suburb called Arcadia has been christened “Mistress City,” as they say it’s where Chinese tycoons hide their secret girlfriends and wealth. And in Monterey Park, where the professor directed Li, Taiwanese bubble-tea shops have been dubbed the “Starbucks of the valley.”

These were not the Chinatowns of old.

Old desires, new opportunities

Intrigued, Li began studying the phenomenon—eventually writing a book about it: Ethnoburb: The New Ethnic Community in Urban America, published in 2009.

By then, she says, ethnoburbs had been around for decades after beginning to emerge as early as the 1960s.

The decade opened an era of widening ethnic tolerance. Newcomers were no longer limited by social attitude—and even laws—to enclaves.

Political tensions and the desire for a better quality of life, especially for families who wanted children to have a western education, drove people from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong to emigrate. At the same time, immigration policies in many developed countries welcomed entrepreneurs. By the 1980s and ‘90s, many ethnoburbs had surpassed the inner-city enclaves where newcomers had been settling in for well over a hundred years. And their growth seems likely to continue, Li said in an interview.

Originally, it was China’s top-tier cities—Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen—that saw emigration to global ethnoburbs. “Now, even second-tier cities in China have heard of places like Richmond, Monterey Park, and Flushing in New York,” Li said.

Second-tier cities include provincial capitals and coastal cities like Chongqing, Chengdu, and Wuhan, recent growth engines of the Chinese economy. Those three alone had a population two-thirds the size of Canada’s—22.3 million people—as of 16 years ago, the last census published.

Asia’s global banks and large informal capital outflows are also helping Asian ethnoburbs flourish faster than counterparts centered on Latino and Afro-American immigration, Li said.

Emigrating to the familiar

One thing hasn’t changed: immigrants still like to settle where immigrants have already settled. Geographers call this chain migration. Once word of the new ethnoburbs got around, they grew fast. Letters, phone calls, and then emails back to the old country, enticed others.

That’s how Queenie Lai ended up in Richmond in 1992. Friends already living there told her parents and grandparents that life was better there than in Hong Kong.

Lai’s mother has no regrets about their choice. Vien Suen is a hairdresser at the Yaohan East Asian mall; her husband does lawn work. In Richmond, Suen says, “The weather is better, and the education and environment for the kids is better. The change in our lifestyle was small.”

The cultural familiarity of ethnoburbs can help ease other transnationals’ yearnings for some of Asia’s hyper-stimulating density and constant action.

Edward Zhao came to Canada in 2002, settling from Beijing with his mother at the age of seven. His father, who worked for a chemical company, remained in China.

Now 21, he’s been back to China on holiday a few times, and finds Vancouver “much more quiet and comfortable compared to Asian cities.” On the other hand, Zhao adds, “There’s not much to do.”

That’s why Richmond is Zhao and his friends’ definitive place for entertainment that mimics Asia’s energy: lots of late-night restaurants, arcades, and Zhao’s favourite, karaoke parlours. He’s a big fan of Korean pop songs.

“I always hog the mic,” he confessed.

Here, but still apart

But if there’s comfort for immigrants in ethnoburbs, there is also segregation.

Ethnoburbs may be different from the confined enclaves of the past, but the choice to live life entirely in one’s own ethnic community can come at the expense of a newcomer’s integration into their new country.

One key aspect: language. In 2011, Statistics Canada revealed that 10 per cent of Richmond residents don’t speak English or French, compared to 5.6 per cent in the region.

“My parents’ English still isn’t the best,” laments Lai. “I was like, ‘You’ve been here for 20 years!’”

And the same qualities that make an ethnoburb feel so familiar to newcomers can have the opposite effect on longer-standing residents.

In Richmond, one group held an extended debate with city hall over there being ‘too much’ Chinese writing on business signs. Residents of a condo building complained when the strata council held its meetings only in Mandarin.

And just as in other parts of gateway cities, as wealthy Chinese buy properties in ethnoburbs, they have been blamed for driving prices out of local reach. One Los Angeles suburb has been advertised to overseas buyers as the “Chinese Beverley Hills.”

In the wake of fears about foreign influence, Li says intergroup harmony is one of the top challenges of ethnoburbs today. “There can be surges of nativism, and even racism.”

A playful response

Australia and New Zealand are among the places where Asian immigration has populated ethnoburbs. In New Zealand, 48-year-old Richard Leung has watched them emerge around Auckland in places like Mount Albert and Avondale.

Leung is the chair of the deep-rooted New Zealand Chinese Association’s Auckland branch, historically formed by Cantonese-speaking labour and service immigrants from south China. Most new arrivals hail from the booming cities of Mandarin-speaking China.

“The elephant in the room for our organization is how we do we accept these new Mandarin speakers,” said Leung. Longtime Chinese New Zealanders, he says, feel “colonized” by the newcomers, who outnumber native-born Asian Kiwis in Auckland by roughly four to one, according to a survey by the Asia New Zealand Foundation last year.

Leung has responded playfully: organizing family sports days to bring newcomers and residents of longer standing together in activities that don’t depend on language.

“We couldn’t speak to many of them, because we didn’t have the Mandarin,” said Leung. “But we decided that we’d just keep doing what we’re doing. Our idea is that the new migrants will have children, and their children will become Chinese New Zealanders like us.”

New nations on the block

Nelson Ou knows how wonderful a taste of home can be in a new place. When he came to Canada from Taiwan at age 20, he was overwhelmed with culture shock.

“I was really lonely and I really missed home,” said Ou, now 32. “But the first time I had Taiwanese food, I was happy. There’s something so familiar to people when they eat their own culture’s food.”

Ou was so happy, in fact, that he took a job at the restaurant. A few years later, he opened his own Taiwanese restaurant, Strike, in Richmond, to serve the same beef noodle soup and peppery fried chicken that gave him comfort.

Limiting himself to a cultural enclave could’ve made things easier, said Ou, but he didn’t want to avoid living in a new, multicultural society.

It wasn’t easy adjusting. He had to “start from scratch and work hard to have an ordinary life,” taking ESL classes, working at Starbucks and restaurants, and eventually earned a financial broker certificate.

“New immigrants these days don’t seem to want to join the community,” said Ou. “They want to change the community to be like the ones they used to live in.”

“When you decide to live here, even for three or five years, that’s quite a long time. I think people should be more open-minded to new ways.”

And he means that both for immigrants and people who’ve been here all their lives.

“Look at bubble tea. It’s for sure not for immigrants only,” said Ou. “In Richmond, some Caucasians have had bubble tea since they were 10 years old. Even 7-Eleven here sells fake bubble tea in their sandwich refrigerators. It’s part of the mainstream now. It’s fun to live here because diversity is part of the culture here.”

Ethnoburbs are dynamic places, after all, said Wei Li.

“Any multiracial, multicultural community can go either way,” she said. “It can become more concentrated, or eventually dissipate.”

It’s up to immigrants like Ou and locals alike to define their home. 

Published in partnership with The Tyee, where this reporting first appeared. 

Published in Arts & Culture

Saturday night rolls around. Your mate Dave from downtown Toronto gives you a shout and asks if you want to go to the pub or hit a club. “Nah, mate, I’m alright,” you reply. “Do that all the time. I feel like trying something different tonight. “An activity where I can express myself through dance. […] 

Brits in Toronto

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Published in Western Europe

by Rosanna Haroutounian in Quebec City

Twenty years after voting in Quebec’s referendum on sovereignty, immigrants in the province say cultural relations are improving, but more progress is still needed.

In October 1995, 2,362,648 Quebecers voted against the provincial government’s move to make Quebec an independent state. The ‘no’ side won in Quebec’s second referendum on the issue, with 50.58 per cent of the vote.

For many immigrants, the result represented a challenge to the old notion of Quebecois identity.

“What we were hearing before ’95, which we don’t hear anymore, is pure laine,” says Simon Jacobs, who immigrated to Canada from England in 1989.

Pure laine, or pure wool, is used to refer to Quebecers whose ancestry can be traced to the original French settlers of the province.

Jacobs says that everything Quebec wanted, in terms of maintaining its identity and creating its own laws, already existed, but that important questions about Quebec’s monetary policy remained unanswered.

“People were saying, ‘I’m American. I’m Syrian. I’m Italian,’ but I didn’t hear, ‘I’m Canadian.’”

He says he voted against separation, though he wasn’t sure if he would remain in Quebec at the time.

“I did not feel this was home,” he adds. “I think after the referendum, I had a change of attitude, and that change of attitude was, ‘Damn it, this is where I live. This is my home.’”

Voting in favour

But not all immigrants felt that federalism was the answer to the question of what constitutes Quebecois identity.

“I didn’t feel pride,” says Abdallah Ghazal about his arrival in Montreal from Syria in 1968. “People were saying, ‘I’m American. I’m Syrian. I’m Italian,’ but I didn’t hear, ‘I’m Canadian.’”

“Anything that’s divisive to harmonious relationships is not good for multiculturalism.”

Ghazal, an agronomist, went on to teach high school science and biology in Victoriaville, QC. In 1995, he voted in favour of sovereignty, and says the decision was largely influenced by the ideas of René Lévesque, founder of the Parti Québécois and defender of Quebec’s independence.

“I admired him because he talked about separation, but also an association with Canada,” says Ghazal. “We would stay a unit of Canada with our own culture and way of life. That’s why I voted ‘yes.’”

Effects of divisive politics

The Parti Québécois, led by then premier of Quebec, Jacques Parizeau, orchestrated the referendum and promoted the 'yes' campaign. As the results were revealed on the night of the referendum, Parizeau proclaimed that the 'yes' side had lost due to “money and ethnic votes.”

“From the standpoint of harmonious relationships between communities in Quebec, I think it was very divisive,” says Jack Jedwab, Executive Vice-President of the Association for Canadian Studies and the Canadian Institute for Identities and Migration. “Anything that’s divisive to harmonious relationships is not good for multiculturalism.”

He adds that the effects were not as “devastating” as they could have been because Quebec society is more interested in harmony than in division.

“[T]here’s not that big of a difference between Toronto and Montreal in terms of how immigration and integration are managed.”

Ghazal says he was encouraged by efforts of the provincial government that followed to secure rights over Quebec’s immigration policies and preserve the French language.

“I’m for the preservation of Quebecois identity,” he explains.

Jedwab says that while most Quebecers value diversity, Quebec decision-makers often associate multiculturalism policies with the federal government.

“It’s been suggested to Quebecers that multiculturalism is associated with ghettoization, or preserving one culture at the expense of the culture of the majority of the province,” he says. “The reality on the ground is there’s not that big of a difference between Toronto and Montreal in terms of how immigration and integration are managed.”

Jacobs says it’s wrong to underestimate the degree to which policies from the federal government can be manipulated on the part of separatists to cause “a rift,” and points to the niqab debate of the 2015 federal election as a recent example.

“I compare it to a marriage,” says Jedwab of Quebec’s relationship with Canada. “You’ve got to work all the time to make it vital. If you don’t do that, it breaks up.”

He says that for him, and the majority of Quebecers, divorce is not a desirable option.

“The lack of exposure of the general population outside Montreal to different religions and cultures is the biggest problem here in Quebec.”

Challenges faced by today’s immigrants

Jacobs, now president of the Quebec Anglophone Heritage Network, teaches history and works in tourism in Quebec City. He notes that as an oral minority, he faced different challenges than visible minorities face in Quebec.

“The lack of exposure of the general population outside Montreal to different religions and cultures is the biggest problem here in Quebec,” he says.

Ghazal says that he too did not face the same challenges as many immigrants in Quebec experience today.

“I was raised in a private French college,” Ghazal shares of his upbringing in Syria. He says he arrived in Quebec with several of his peers who went on to become engineers and doctors.

Ghazal married and raised two children in Victoriaville, where he worked as a teacher until his retirement 15 years ago.

“Today, many who arrive with diplomas like me find it more difficult to find employment,” he says. “A lot of engineers and doctors come here and are not recognized.”

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

Published in Arts & Culture

The Art Gallery of Ontario’s latest exhibition is a tribute to one of the most celebrated English painters, J.M.W. Turner. Snip: “Featuring more than 50 paintings and works on paper on loan from Tate Britain, J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free is the first major exhibition to focus on the final and most experimental phase of the […] 

Brits in Toronto

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Published in Arts & Culture

by Shazia Javed (@ShaziaJaved) in Toronto

Diversity is a major part of the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival and it’s no wonder, with almost 200 films being screened from Canada and around the world. The festival offers a unique opportunity to shed light on diverse stories and storytellers alike. Here is the first instalment of NCM’s series highlighting standout films and filmmakers from this year’s festival.  

Filmmaker Spotlight | Noemi Weis, Milk

Noemi Weis is the producer, director and writer of Milk, a documentary about the commercialization of childbirth and infant feeding, which premiered at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival in Toronto this week.

In 1998, Weis created a film production company, Film Blanc, and has been involved in making documentaries on social justice and women’s issues throughout her career.

In creating Milk, Weis travelled to 35 cities in 11 countries to bring a global perspective and voices of women from diverse communities to her film.

In creating Milk, Weis travelled to 35 cities in 11 countries to bring a global perspective and voices of women from diverse communities to her film.

Weis came to Canada from Argentina in her late teens for, “a year of adventure,” and made it her home. Argentina at that time, “was under a lot of oppression as it had a military government,” and Weis loved that, “you could talk to anyone in Canada and there was freedom of expression.”

In this interview with New Canadian Media Weis talks about her motivation in making Milk and opens up about her immigrant roots in Canada.

Milk screens at 11 a.m. on April 29 inside the Isabel Bader Theatre (93 Charles St. W.) in Toronto.

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Film Review | English India

75 MINUTES | 2015 | India | Directed by Spandan Banerjee

Colonial rulers brought English to India. In 1947, the British left, but the language stayed. Through a focus on tourism and tourist guides in Delhi and Agra, English India explores how English remains important for communication in India to the extent that it can be considered an Indian language.

English India refrains from a linear narrative; it is built through chapters” that introduce new people, places or ideas. This travelogue approach turns its audience into tourists who meet different people and visit various places.

The audience will meet shopkeepers, rickshaw pullers and tour guides that speak English with varying levels of proficiency. English, as the most commonly understood language, at least to some extent, by both international and domestic tourists, has become the language of survival for them.

The films most memorable participant, and perhaps also the one with the most screen time, is an outspoken tour guide who claims to be able to speak 70 languages. Hearing him speak about Delhis Red Fort, and its adjacent monuments, provides a good peak at the experience of visiting with a tour guide.

For its musical track, English India taps into renditions of Hindi film songs and live music by uniformed brass bands, which, like the English language, are a legacy of colonialism that continued to flourish post-independence.

In fact, his splashy take on history is missed later on in the film when the mechanized tone of an audio-tour app, which is all set to replace the human guides, is heard.

For its musical track, English India taps into renditions of Hindi film songs and live music by uniformed brass bands, which, like the English language, are a legacy of colonialism that continued to flourish post-independence.

The films highlight and biggest strength is the camera work by Mrinal Desai, which takes viewers to the narrow lanes of Old Delhi and captures its various hues. If drama or twists in the plot is the desire, English India will disappoint, but if audience members give in to the flow of visuals, they will surely be left craving rumili roti, kababs and jalebi street foods of Old Delhi.

English India screens at 6:45 p.m. on April 28 inside the TIFF Bell Lightbox 4 (350 King St. W.) and at 1:45 p.m. on April 29 inside the Scotiabank Theatre 7 (259 Richmond St. W.) in Toronto. 


Shazia Javed is a writer, photographer and filmmaker. All week long, New Canadian Media will feature her ongoing coverage of diverse films and filmmakers at this years Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival.

 

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to publisher@newcanadianmedia.ca

 

Published in Arts & Culture

The Brits in Toronto crew are always on the lookout for cool books to read on the TTC, when it’s running. We heard about this one today — Invisible Immigrants: The English in Canada since 1945. From the PR blurb … “Despite being one of the largest immigrant groups contributing to the development of modern […] 

Brits in Toronto

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Published in Books

London:  A city council in Britain told an Indian-origin woman that she could not run a food stall during a St George’s Day event as it wanted only English food. The Salisbury City Council told British-born Tania Rahman, 27, that her stall — Chit Chaat Chai — would not be allowed because it was not […]

The Weekly Voice

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Published in Western Europe

A Hebrew-language book that won Yad Vashem’s prize for outstanding children’s Holocaust literature in 2008 is being published in English...

The Canadian Jewish Tribune

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Published in Books
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Poll Question

Do you agree with the new immigration levels for 2017?

Yes - 30.8%
No - 46.2%
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The voting for this poll has ended on: %05 %b %2016 - %21:%Dec

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The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit

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