By Jonathan Coutts-Zawadzki
Canadas immigration policy has historically been based on economic need. If workers are needed, then Canadas doors are open to groups that would fill this need. But when there are economic problems, such as the Depression, Canadas doors close.
During the Second World War, the Jews and the Japanese were specifically targeted for discriminatory acts in law and by the Canadian public. According to T.M. and C.M. Luong in their book The Great Image Sellers: The study of the causes of difficulties among immigrants in Canada, the Japanese and the Jews had been targets for discrimination, but in 1931 they were the two most outstanding groups that improved their occupational level. (Loung, 13) Having this in mind, let us see how these two groups economically threaten Anglo-Saxon society and how Anglo-Saxon Canadians reacted.
Let us first look at what was the aftermath of this long economic battle between the Anglo-Saxons and the challengers: Canadian Jews and the Japanese-Canadians.
In 1939, a boat full of Jews fleeing Nazi persecution in Germany, was first turned away from Cuba and the United States and then finally came to Canada to seek refuge. But after some time for public discussion, the Canadian authorities refused entry for these Jews, which forced them to return to Europe, where a majority of them faced death at the hands of the Nazis. (Hashemi, 1)
When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941, the first and second generation Japanese-Canadians were caught in the middle of two nations. Japan, a country, where many of them had never been to, and Canada, the country they were born from and lived their whole lives in. Some 23,000 people of Japanese decent, even the 75 per cent that were Canadian citizens were deemed "enemy aliens. Their property was confiscated, their boats impounded and they were subject to a nighttime curfew. Each had to carry an identification card stating their address to control their movements. "When the War Measures Act came into effect, steps were taken which mimicked the treatment of Jews in Germany, such as deportation, relocation, imprisonment and forced labour." (Naves, 3) Many Japanese-Canadians were deported to Japan, and the rest were split up into internment camps across Western Canada. All were denied access to the western coast.
For the Jews, the excuse the Canadian government gave was that the country was facing an economic crisis because of the war and could not take any more workers. The Japanese were considered a national security threat, for the Allied nations were at war with Japan. But why did Canada specifically target these groups and did not give as much consideration to others such as the Italians, Germans or Russians? First let us look at how Jewish-Canadians posed an economic threat to Anglo-Saxon Canada.
Although the early Jewish settlers were of the poorer classes, historically a considerable amount of Jewish people had dominant roles in economic sectors of Europe. Christians, by doctrine could not lend money, and Jewish people, since the creation of the Holy Roman Empire, had capitalized on this and made great amounts of money by giving loans to Christians. As a religion, Jews posed a threat to those in power in Europe and in Canada for being viewed as misers, money lenders and extremely business wise." (Brown,55)
But in Canada, the early Jewish immigrants were poor and uneducated. In the 1890s, many of the Eastern European Jews, who were driven out of their countries by persecution to Canada, settled in Torontos first slum, the Ward. This group mainly started off in the Ward as peddlers, dealers of junk and secondhand clothes, they operated tiny stores in the Ward or worked in sweatshops of the needle trades. (Cochrane, 27) To many Canadians of Anglo-Saxon society, the Jews were considered sub-human and their living standards of the Ward reflected this. But one must note that many of these Jews were forced to stay in the Ward, as their movements were controlled. As well, Jews by religion must stay close to the community to get kosher products but also to be near the synagogue. Unlike other immigrant groups, Canadians-Jews tended not to work on farms and congregated mainly in Toronto and Montreal.
After measures in 1910 to clean up the Ward as part of the public health movement, many Jews started to move down the road to Spadina and started to settle in the Kensington area, just off of Spadina. Moving into this area, Jewish markets started to arise, along with synagogues, Jewish schools and medical dispensaries. (Cochrane, 29)
Living in this new area, many Jews started working for the Timothy Eatons garment industry as pressers, finishers and operators. (Cochrane, 32) But after the strike of 1911 against the T. Eaton Companys garment monopoly in Canada, many Jews and Germans started new plants in old houses along Adelaide, Richmond and Queen streets. The Jews were now gaining control of a once Anglo-Saxon monopoly. (Donegan, 16)
"The mix of industrial Spadina and Jewish Spadina was volatile and creative .It was a militant centre" said J.B. Salsberg, a politician that held various cultural election meetings like one for the Jews and the Blacks. " (Donegan, 17) Since virtually every worker and boss was Jewish during this time in the Spadina clothing industry, and most workers lived nearby, when there was a strike the whole community went on strike together. (Donegan, 17)
By 1924 there was over 35,000 Jews in Ontario, with a majority in Toronto. (Speisman, 115) Many Jews joined the Communist party, and because of the closeness of the Jewish community, this brought many other Jews to follow Communism. Spadina, being predominately Jewish, became very volatile at this time. "Spadina became the centre for every kind of opposition to the sober Upper Canadian mainstream: economic, cultural, ethnic, linguistic." (Donegan, 20) The already rising fear of Communism was extremely dominant in Canada, as it was in the States, and did not help Jewish integration or acceptance, as they were not only Jewish, they were Commies.
In July of 1933, fifteen thousand people, mainly Jewish groups and trade unions marched up Spadina Road to protest the anti-Semitism of the new German government. And when the war started the large Jewish population supported the war effort of the Communists and the Allies against Nazism.
Like we will see with the Japanese, the Jews were greatly feared as an economic challenge to the dominant Anglo-Saxons. They were taking jobs away from Canadians and the Jews were challenging the governments authority through mass protest and also by many of them joining the Communist cause.
The Japanese had a similar story, but the hatred for them was more based on an inferiority complex by the Anglo-Saxons who had trouble competing with this group.
When Gihei Kuno first came to Canada in 1877, he was very impressed with the salmon fishing in British Columbia, so much so that he encouraged people from his village in Japan to migrate to Canada as well. At first, many of these early Japanese immigrants came to Canada to fish for salmon, make money and then return to Japan. This sojourner attitude of making Canadian money and then spending it in Japan, was already planting the seeds for resentment for later on. (Ujimoto, 133)
Later, Japanese were engaged in boat building, lumbering and the mining industries, which was challenging Anglo-Saxons workers for jobs because the Japanese were willing to work for cheaper rates. By 1901, there were 4,738 Japanese in Canada with 97 per cent in British Columbia, which was an increase of over 350 per cent of Japanese immigrants in five years. The Japanese were forming an established community in British Columbia.
As more immigrants from Japan flocked to Canada for work, Japanese commercial organizations were formed to help the Japanese immigrants. These organizations were mainly conducted in Japanese and used traditional principles of authority and social obligation as its basis. This, therefore, helped the Japanese maintain their culture and lead to less integration with the existing models.
To add to the flame, these organizations helped their own and gave financial assistance to their members to start up businesses in order to compete with the Anglo-Saxon businesses. In some cases Japanese businesses were more superior to Anglo-Saxon ones, especially when it came to boat building and fishing. (Ujimoto, 134) In 1919, British Columbia produced fishery products totaling $25,301,607, which was 44.7 per cent of the total production for the Dominion. The fear that the Japanese would drive out the Whites from fishing was growing. (Young, 43) Japanese economic expansion seemed as if the Japanese were invading industry after industry and becoming well organized and an efficiently functioning unit. "The segregated nature of the Japanese settlement made them conspicuous and aroused suspicions of the Whites, and their rapid population growth raised grave foreboding as to the future." (Young, 34)
When the Canadian railway was being built, if Anglo-Saxon workers wanted to be paid more or caused labour disputes, it was not a worry to the people in charge, as they could just hire cheap contract labour from the Chinese or Japanese.
Not only were Japanese creating their own organizations and therefore giving fewer reasons for Japanese to integrate, but they were also posing a threat to the dominant Anglo-Saxon businesses and workers. "As more and more Japanese entered, an increasing number of industries and competition increased, feelings between the two groups became personal and bitter." (Young, 120)
Imagine losing your job to an inferior person, or having your company taken over by foreigners. They are said to spread the devils message of communism and they are taking over our beloved country.
An example of this is seen with Watson Kirkconnell, who was a firm believer in Anglo-Saxon superiority. He was a leading member of the Nationalities Branch and key member in the Bureau of Public Informations propaganda effort to promote national unity, through a radio show called Canadians All. His xenophobic view can be seen in this quote of his:
"The Anglo-Canadian can nevertheless scarcely view with equanimity the rapid replacement of his own stock by that of alien groups. The Anglo-Saxons, who have displayed the greatest political genius of any age or people, have bequeathed to Canada the master-principle of responsible government and federalism... Unless we are prepared to take parenthood as a serious duty, la revanche du berceau will speedily submerge us in both East and West." (Patrias, 5)
With people like Kirkconnel representing the Bureau of Public Information, we can guess what this information could have done to a public already fearing and hating immigrants for taking their jobs away and making Anglo-Saxon companies bankrupt. But how did Anglo-Saxon Canada release their fear and hatred for these groups and how did they solve the migrant problem?
In the case of the Japanese, we see a variety of measures taken by Anglo-Saxons of British Columbia. As early as 1891, there was an attempt to introduce anti-Japanese measures in the British Columbia Legislature by increasing the Chinese Head Tax from fifty to two hundred and fifty dollars and extending it to include the Japanese. But if the fear and hatred was so great, why not stop all Japanese entry into Canada in the first place? Well, we must go back to 1895 where England and Japan made a treaty that allowed the subjects of either country the right to enter, travel, and reside in any part of the Dominions and the possessions of the other. The way around this for Canada was controlling immigration, but later Britain allowed Canada to renounce this treaty with Japan and Canada formed its own rules about allowing Japanese immigration into Canada. (Young, 9)
In 1907, America banned Japanese immigrants to Hawaii from securing passports to go to the mainland. So many Japanese went through British Columbia to get to the United States instead. The influx of Japanese in British Columbia resulted in labour organizations on the west coast uniting to form an anti-Asiatic League with membership of over five hundred people. Shortly after, a mob was formed and marched in front of City Hall and burned an effigy of the Lieutenant-Governor, Dunsmuir, who was a wealthy mine owner who employed Oriental labour. The mob then went on to Chinatown and areas where the Japanese lived and destroyed houses and shops. (Young, 11)
The bitter feelings against the Japanese soon spread from the few industries that were involved, to the wider White population. "The Whites who lose out in competition with the Japanese take their case to the larger White community by means of newspapers, meetings, and organizations, through which they air their grievances and demand protection against foreign-born, alien labourers, fisherman, or business men with a low standard of living, who are depriving good, native-born White citizens of their jobs." (Young, 121) As Charles Young describes in his book The Japanese Canadians, only a small number of people met the Japanese during this time, for mainly economic reasons. But he says that this small group tells their opinions of the Japanese to Canadian society more than the educational, religious or industrial leaders who met the Japanese under other circumstances and who viewed them in a more sympathetic light. (Young, 127) The Canadian public opinion concerning the Japanese was therefore determined by the attitudes of a small group of Whites who were economically challenged by the Japanese.
When the First World War started, 197 Japanese Canadians joined the Canadian military and defended their nation valiantly, many fighting against Germans on the front lines, in which 54 men were killed. But when the survivors returned, they were not greeted with the respect they deserved as soldiers. They were met with greater restrictions for Japanese immigration and an overall lessening of jobs for the Japanese in agriculture. This was mainly a result of Anglo-Saxon soldiers returning home to find their jobs taken over by Orientals (Young, 14, 121) And to deal with the fishing problem, in 1922 there was a reduction of approximately 28 per cent in the number of licenses issued to Japanese. Later, Japanese were excluded from employment of timber leases, or as hand loggers. During this whole time, the entire Japanese-Canadian population was disenfranchised, only 80 World War 1 veterans could vote in 1931. (Young, 127)
The Jews had faced this treatment since their arrival in Canada in the early 1800s, as anti-Semitism had existed since time unmemorable in Europe and the Middle East. Jews had been tagged as the murderers of Jesus, and this gave Christians reason to persecute the Jews. (Meniks, 20) But in Canada, although considered a inferior race, the Jews were given much more freedom than they had in their home countries. Unlike the Japanese, by the 1870s, the Jews were treated legally as full citizens, with the right to vote and hold office. But this did not stop persecution from happening. (Menkis, 11)
Michael Brown in his article "From Stereotype to Scapegoat: Anti-Jewish Sentiment in French Canada from Confederation to World War I," describes how French-Canadians blamed the Jews for "Buying up Quebec." In fact it was the British and Americans that were purchasing many institutions in Quebec but it was more prudent to attack the Jews for this rather than the dominating groups. (Brown, 55)
French-Catholics, priests took up the rally cry by saying that Jews sought to undermine the moral fiber of Christians. In 1908, a priest named Farly condemned Jews by telling a congregation: "The Jew rejected the Bible and adopted the Talmud, which excuses him of all crimes and gives him the right to do anything he wants." (Brown, 56) Priests also told their congregations not to sell their property to Jews, thereby protecting the integrity of their neighborhoods. (Brown, 58)
This preaching of anti-Semitism was not only taking place in Quebec but all over Canada. In Ontario, Reverend J.R. Mutchmor, secretary of the Board of Evangelism and Social Services of the United Church, who saw that human rights and freedoms were chief concerns of the Church, also held great anti-Semitic views. He suggested that Canadian Jews pushed for the admission of Jewish refugees to increase Jewish political and economic control. He also said that organized Jewry was busy and that they will need watching. (Patrias,12)
These sentiments were instilled in the Canadian public as shown in signs on stores such as "No Jews wanted," "Christians need only apply," "Excellent fishing, low rates, gentiles only," "No Jews, No Dogs, Gentiles Only." (Speisman, 121)
Violent fights broke out between Anglo-Saxons and Jews, as in the case of a Anglo-saxon baseball team, with some players with the Nazi symbol tattooed on their arms, got in a fight with a mainly Jewish team at Christy Pitts in Toronto. Jews were banned from many clubs, parks and beaches. Jewish students needed higher marks to get into universities, such as McGill. And to further increase the hatred, organizations such as the Swastika Association of Canada was formed to support gentile business interests across Canada. (Speisman, 123)
After the Winnipeg General Strike of 1919, the fear of Bolshevism was rampant across Canada. Authorities arrested left-wing supporters with the charge of treason. Although Jews did not start the Communist Party of Canada, they were blamed for it, and many Jews were arrested for their left wing beliefs. (Speisman, 124)
Just prior to the Second World War, Jews were excluded from practicing law, from working in insurance companies, financial institutions, advertising, from the teaching profession, as principals, or university professors. The few Jewish civil servants had to change their names before being accepted for employment and there were restrictions on Jewish doctors until 1960. (Culiner, 238)
Although these restrictions seem totalitarian to the modern Canadian, they were accepted and promoted by the Canadian population. Judging by these laws, we can conclude that saving the Jews was not a big concern for Canadian politicians when deciding if Canada should join the Second World War. Many Canadians were sympathetic to Hitlers treatment of the Jews. (Culiner, 239)
These two cultural groups, for a period of time challenged the Anglo-Saxon society of Canada but were similarly prevented from exceeding the dominant group through discriminatory and racist acts against them. To demonstrate this in modern terms let us look at Dusan Lazernic, a Serbian-born Canadian national water polo player. Lazernic says that Canada should not prevent foreign-born athletes from playing on Canadas national teams for the fear of these athletes stealing spots on teams from Canadian-born athletes. "If good foreign athletes come, they give competition for spots on the team to Canadian athletes. Then Canadian-born athletes will work harder for the spots on the team." (Coutts-Zawadzki, 1)
The best example in modern day cinema that demonstrates why Canadians persecuted the Japanese and Jews can be seen in the "Planet of the Ape" series. This four-part movie shows how in the future humans will teach apes how to be servants but later the apes evolve and challenge the humans. The humans, therefore, must control and punish the apes through inhumane means, because after all they are only apes.
One can only hope that one day, instead of celebrating Remembrance Day to pay tribute to fallen soldiers, Canadians will celebrate the Jews and Japanese and any other group persecuted in Canada. For without Canadas own history of persecutions the nation would not be the multicultural, human rights activist nation of the World. One needs to feel persecution in order to realize its consequences.
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Brown, Michael. "From Stereotype to Scapegoat: Anti-Jewish Sentiment in French Canada from Confederation to World War I." In Alan Davies, ed. Antisemitism in Canada. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier Press, 1992. P.39-66.
Cochrane, Jean. Kensignton. Erin: Boston Mills Press, 2000.
Coutts-Zawadzki, Jonathan. "Patriot Games: A look at foreign born athletes playing for Canada." The Varsity. Toronto: January 31, 2005.
Culiner, Jill. Finding Home: In the footsteps of the Jewish Fusgeyers. Toronto: Sumach Press, 2004.
Donegan, Rosemary. Spadina Avenue. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre Ltd., 1974.
Ujimoto, Victor. "Contrasts in the Prewar and Postwar Japanese Community in British Columbia." In Goldstein, Jay and Rita Bienvenue ed.. Ethnicity and Ethnic Relations in Canada. Toronto: Butterworths, 1980.
Hashemi, Ashkan. Control and inadmissibility in the Canadian immigration policy. Canada: Committee for Racial Justice, 1993.
Luong, T.M. and C.M. Luong. The Great Image Sellers. New York: Pageant-Poseidon Ltd., 1972.
Menkis, Richard. "Anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism in Pre-Confederation Canada." In Allan Davies, ed. Antisemitism in Canada. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier Press, 1992. P.11-38.
Naves, Elaine. "Japanese Canadians break silence that cannot speak." Montreal: The Gazette, February 8,1992, P. K.3
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origins of Ontario's human rights campaigns." The Canadian Historical Review.North York: Mar 2001.Vol.82, Iss. 1; pg. 1
Senese, Phyllis. "Anti-Semitic Dreyfusards: The Confused Western-Canadian Press." In Alan Davies, ed. Antisemitism in Canada. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier Press, 1992.
Speisman, Stephan. "Anti-Semitism in Ontario: The Twentieth Century." In Alan Davies, ed. Antisemitism in Canada. Waterloo: Wilfred Laurier Press, 1992. P.113-134.
Whitaker, Reg. Double Standard: The Secret history of Canadian immigration. Toronto: Lester & Orpen Dennys Ltd., 1987.
Young, Charles and Helen Reid. The Japanese Canadians. Toronto: The University of Toronto Press, 1938.
Why Should I Immigrate to Toronto?
An Indian Student's Discovery of Toronto
By Jonathan Coutts-Zawadzki
Looking out the window onto the busy streets of Toronto from his George Brown's financial planning class, Kiran Kumar, a foreign student from South India, wonders if he will make Toronto his new home.
With over 44 per cent of Toronto's 4.4 million people being born in another country, many immigrants have gone through the struggle of either accepting the lifestyle, financial system, education and government of Canada's largest city as their own or immigrating somewhere else. It is now Kumar's time to decide.
Walking down the aisle of chairs, Kumar grabs his paper from his teacher's desk and walks out of the classroom. Looking down at the sheet, he is surprised at the low mark, for he had been told three months before moving to Toronto, that school was going to be a piece of cake in Canada.
"In many other parts of the world the learning style is different," said Ben Yang, director of the University of Toronto's International Student Centre. "In Canada we emphasize independence, taking initiative, creative problem solving, group work and case studies. While in other countries studies focus on mechanical memorizing and regurgitating the information."
He also said that in Canada professors are much less formal than in other countries. He said that many foreign students are surprised to see a professors sitting on a desk giving a lecture in jeans and a t-shirt and even some male professors wearing earrings. Yang said that in other countries there is a very clear distinction between the academic authority of the teacher and the students.
Out of the classroom and through the school doors, Kumar rushes down the stairways because he is late for his swimming lesson at the University of Toronto Athletic Centre. Kumar decides to run to Yonge Street, the world's longest street, and take the subway because he is freezing. Only coming to Canada three months ago, Kumar is not used to the 5 degree weather yet.
"There are no crowds and no one pushes you out of the way for a seat." Kumar said. "But there is no train atmosphere as you find in India, where people sing, dance and sell food."
After arriving at Spadina station, as he walks out of the subway he can make out at least five different languages spoken. Which is not surprising with Toronto's twelve main languages being: English, Cantonese, Italian, Portuguese, Polish, Spanish, French, German, Greek, Tagalog, Punjabi, and Ukrainian. Instead of trying to understand what on earth people are talking about he walks up the winding stairs and out of the station. He looks down Bloor Street to Flight Centre. Every time Kumar passes this travel agency he remembers his first experience with racism. A few weeks ago a drunken man came up to Kumar, in front of Flight Centre, asked Kumar if he was Pakistani and pushed Kumar down.
"In 1975, the immigrants of Asian origins were being beaten up and in one instance a guy was thrown on the subway tracks at Islington station," said Sri-Guggan Sri Skanda-Rajah, vice-president of the Urban Alliance for Race Relations. He is also settlement worker for Tamil immigrants. "But this incident brought different ethnic communities together to fight racism together. Now Jewish, Black, South Asian and other groups stand together in crises that involve racism such as police brutality, problems with government bureaucracy and problems in the court system."
Kumar snaps out of his daze and realizes that Canada does not run on Indian standard time. If he is late for his swimming class, the class will not wait for him and he does not want to miss his first chance at learning swimming. He runs down Spadina into the facility and to the change room.
"Back home, swimming is a privilege rather than an every day event," Kumar said. "To be part of swim clubs, you have to be of the wealthy type."
After jumping into the small pool, Kumar looks over to the Olympic-sized eight-lane swimming pool. He notices the group training behaved flamboyantly. He then realizes that in Canada, swimming has taken it one step further and not only made swimming for everyone, but also encourages people of different lifestyles to take up aquatic sports.
"The sporting world is not as open or accessible to men being gay," said Christi Bardecki, coach of the Triggerfish Gay and Lesbian Water Polo team. "Many Olympians do not come out until the end of their sporting career because they do not know how teammates will act."
She said that four years ago Toronto was chosen for the International Gay and Lesbian Association Games, which the Triggerfish competed in, because of Toronto's reputation for being open and welcoming to people of all walks of life.
Swimming works up an appetite so after his swimming lessons, Kumar walks across the street to the Royal Bank to get money for dinner.
"Many people in India still do not put their money in banks," Kumar said. "In the past, banks have closed down and much money has been lost, that is why India has greater interest rates for savings accounts than in Canada.
Kumar said that he likes the fact that banking and financial industries are Toronto's largest industry and that three of Canada's six major banks have their headquarters in Toronto. He said if he chooses to immigrate to Canada, he plans to start a business in Toronto. But one thing is for sure; he does not want his future wife to work, but rather stay at home and take care of the family.
"Immigrant men sometimes have a harder time adapting to this society," said Fatima Filippi, executive director of the Rexdale Women's Centre. "Back home they may have been the sole-provider of the family and here they might find difficulties finding jobs with their education or training, and therefore have to depend on their wife to work as well."
Filippi said that the dual responsibility for an immigrant woman of taking care of the house and then having to work, has a great affect on woman too. She said that in many countries, large extended families usually help out in times of crisis and would be able to take care of the kids if the mother had to work. But in Canada many immigrants have left their families back home and only have themselves to depend on.
After getting his cash to eat, Kumar walks north to Bloor Street and sees what food will settle his appetite. In India, he usually has dal and rice or some curry at any restaurant along the way home from work. But walking along Bloor Street, Kumar has trouble choosing what to eat because of the many different types of cultural restaurants. He wants to eat Canadian food but could not find a Canadian restaurant on the way home, so he decides on Japanese instead. But he is afraid of eating sushi for he has never eaten anything raw before.
Jim Chan, manager at Toronto Public Health, said that the Ontario government recently tried to pass a law forcing restaurants to put raw fish through a freezing process to kill any parasites. He said that the fear has come from an increase in parasitic infection that is taking place across Europe and Japan.
While sitting down to order Kumar is glad that there is no one smoking in the restaurant because he hates inhaling people's smoke.
"Our job is to protect and promote public health," Chan said in regards to the anti-smoking bill the city has passed and the DineSafe sanitation inspections. "We wish to lower illnesses such as cancer and food poisoning by promoting certain kinds of education and by passing laws to promote healthy living."
At the restaurant Kumar is surprised to see how women laugh loudly and are treated by men. He said that in India, women are highly respected because they follow their roles. But here women are treated not as women but as men.
"In India, if a man laughs loudly in a public place no one will look at him," Kumar said. "But if a woman laughs loudly and acts in a jovial way, people will look at her in a weird way."
After leaving the Japanese restaurant with more confidence for eating new foods, Kumar strolls down the street to his $300-a-month one-bedroom apartment, feeling safe being out at 11 at night.
"You can have a big city location in Toronto for suburban US prices," said Peter Viducis, research manager of economic development for the City of Toronto. "And you get the added benefit of the crime rate being one tenth the amount of US cities and it is lower than any large North American city like Montreal or Vancouver."
Kumar enters his apartment, looks at the mess of his room and misses having a maid to clean and someone to make his dinner.
"A lot of the times western countries are portrayed as being economically more stable and people come here for a better life," said Aseefa Sarang, co-director of the Across Boundaries, a mental health clinic for people of colour. "But for some immigrants they end up with a worse lifestyle then what they had back home because of having trouble finding jobs and many have depression problems because their expectations were not met."
Kumar lies down on his bed and dreams of the busy streets of Bangalore and the culture he misses. Kumar wonders what he will do in eight months from now when his visa expires. He has to decide if he will apply for landed immigrant status and make Toronto his new home or go back home to the culture he knows and trusts.
It Can Happen Again...
By Jonathan Coutts-Zawadzki
On Dec. 7,1941, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in the United States. Within weeks of the attack, the Moritsugu family, along with a majority of Japanese-Canadians were sent to internment camps throughout British Columbia.
Imagine not getting the right to vote, being forced to follow a curfew and having your personal property confiscated by the government. Next, picture politicians, religious figures and union tainting public opinion through racist media publications. Lastly, think of being kicked out of your home, separated from your family and shipped to an internment camp all on the basis of race. This happened to the Jews during the Holocaust. And this was also the experience of 21,000 Japanese-Canadians living in British Columbia and Alberta during the Second World War, even those born in Canada.
"It can happen here, it has happened here, and please pay attention so it will not happen again," said Frank Moritsugu, an 81-year-old Japanese-Canadian and internment camp survivor.
Consider the fact that 44 per cent of Toronto's population is foreign-born. If history were to repeat itself, what would happen in Toronto? Maureen Hiebert is a PhD student conducting a comparative analysis of the Holocaust and Cambodian genocides. Hiebert says the race relations situation in Canada has changed drastically since the First and Second World Wars.
"Canada as a fully multicultural society and Toronto specifically, will be able to weather whatever kind of disruptions happen overseas as long as the conflict stays overseas," Hiebert said. "But there would be more damage done to the relative tolerance of Toronto, if a major terrorist attack happened here, if it were perpetrated by one identifiable ethnic or religious group."
Ibrahim Downey, president of a Toronto-based Muslim leadership development organization called M.E.C.C.A Inc., said that after Sept. 11, Muslim-Canadians were treated as terrorist suspects.
"There is preaching of hatred in the mosques, but it is hatred of injustice, of intolerance of outright abuse and discrimination," Downey said. "These are common Canadian values, but all of a sudden, when we start talking about them in the masjid (mosque), we are accused of inciting hatred."
Downey outlines instances of public reaction and confusion in Toronto after September 11, 2001. He said that after the attack on the twin towers, there were cases of Muslim women not being allowed to enter public buses in Toronto. In a state of bewilderment Canadians threw Molotov cocktail bombs at a Hindu temple in Hamilton, mistaking the temple for a mosque. Furthermore, CSIS came to many Muslim-Canadian homes in the middle of the night to interrogate its residents. Officers said that they had just cause to do so.
"Most of the people are scared, nobody wants to be next," Downey said. "Everyone thinks that we can live here safely and that we don't have to do anything."
However, Downey said Muslims have reason to be fearful because if injustice can be done to one person, it can be done to anyone.
Born and raised in Canada, Moritsugu and his siblings knew nothing of Japan. They had seen a few movies about the country and their parents subscribed to Japanese magazines but Japan remained a foreign country to these Canadians of a Japanese type.
"Most of us never felt we had anything to do with Japan," Moritsugu said. "But that is not what the outside world said. They said that we are one of the enemy."
After having his democratic rights infringed upon and living in an internment camp, Moritsugu agrees with Downey about fearing injustice. Still, he looks to a better future.
"After 9/11, Chretien and George Bush, said that what happened to the Japanese during World War II would not happen again," Moritsugu said. "Yet, after 9/11 there was a backlash against Muslims and brown skinned people."
Moritsugu said the memory of the Japanese-Canadian experience during the Second World War will remain, as long as people tell the story.
"When things go wrong, such as the Depression or war, people need something to blame, a scapegoat," Moritsugu said. "The helpless are the easiest to blame because they can't fight back."
He said that during the early 1900s, the Japanese-Canadian community stuck together and formed a Japantown in British Columbia, but after the War, the community dispersed.
Moritsugu said staying together helps maintain the culture, makes adjusting to Canada easier for new immigrants and also shows a presence of the culture in a city. But he said that Japanese-Canadians would rather not stick out in society in case another problem arises and people need something to blame. Instead, the Japanese dispersed across Ontario, many coming to Toronto, with few staying in British Columbia.
The Battle of Kensington Market
By Jonathan Coutts-Zawadzki
Jamaican reggae beats echoing throughout the narrow streets, which are in a perpetual traffic jam because trucks unload carcasses of cows and pigs into the European Meat Market as cars double-park to wait for relatives shopping. The sidewalks are always jammed with people talking in Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese and many other languages. Some clench their noses because of the strong smells of fish and spices in the air. Others inhale the strong aromas with delight, remembering the old country. Stepping into Kensington Market, one gets thrown into a new world, a bizarre self-contained mixed community of residents from all over the planet, with different values and languages. But each calls Kensington their own.
"The great thing about Kensington Market since I have been here is that all races, they work in unity," said Fabian Choe, owner of the International Herbs store in Kensington Market. "There is not too much racial tension and this salad bowl-type of community is where everyone blends together and works together."
The story of Kensington Market goes back 200 years when the area was farmland owned by a British-Anglican family named the Denisons. But the history of this cultural mish-mash did not take place until much later, when Toronto's slum, the Ward, where waves of immigrants congregated, was destroyed.
Professor Susannah Bunce, who teaches urban planning at the University of Toronto, did her Master's thesis on Kensington Market. She dates Kensington's cultural history back to the 1890's when Eastern European Jews, who were driven out of their countries by persecution to Canada, settled in Toronto's first slum, 'the Ward.' She said this group mainly started off in 'the Ward' as peddlers, dealers of junk and secondhand clothes and operated tiny stores in the Ward or worked in sweatshops of the needle trades.
"In 1910, when the government decided to clean up the Ward as part of a public health movement, the Jews migrated westward toward Kensington," Bunce said.
At the beginning of the 1900s, the many Jews living in the Kensington area started working for the Timothy Eaton's garment industry as pressers, finishers and operators. Bur after the strike of 1911 against the T. Eaton Company's garment monopoly in Canada, many Jews and Germans start to open their own plants in old houses along Adelaide, Richmond and Queen streets, near Kensington Market. Gradually this area became the centre of the trade.
"As the Jews in this area went from being poor peddlers to store owners, many Jewish markets started to arise, along with synagogues, Jewish schools and medical buildings," Bunce said. "Back then there was racism towards the Jews. Perhaps that is why many moved into this area and made it self-contained because they didn't want to deal with racism outside Kensington."
Shalom Kenigsberg, who runs the European Meat at the centre of Kensington Market, remembers fondly the earlier years of his 60-year-old butcher shop when the clientele used to be mainly European Jews.
"Jews congregated in this area," said Kenigsberg. "Rent was cheaper and many Jewish families lived here already so this became our home."
Bunce said that the government restricted Jewish culture in 1910 by making a by-law against selling caged animals on the street. Many Jews try to eat kosher meat, in which the animal is killed in a certain way. By not allowing the sale of caged animals the government made it difficult for Jews to obtain kosher chicken. Kenigsberg said his market fought against this rule but never succeeded. Bunce said the by-law was not really enforced until the 1940s and has continued on to the present day.
After the Second World War, Jews started running the companies hired new immigrants to work for them. The community started changing from a largely left-wing, working-class group to an increasingly wealthy group and therefore, conservative. In the 1951 federal census, Jews ranked number one for the highest average income of any ethnic group, including the British. By this time, the Jews started moving out of the Kensington area, north on Bathurst Street towards Forest Hill, Bathurst Heights, Bayview and Don Mills, as other immigrating groups established themselves on Kensington Avenue.
"My people moved north to bigger houses and better living," Kenigsberg said. "This is where I make my living and it is a good living, but I also moved north."
The synagogues, the meat market and a few other Jewish stores were left behind after the exodus of Jews from Kensington Market. But, according to Bunce, Jews still own much property in this area.
"If you look at the land registry for Kensington you will notice a lot of Jewish names, still," Bunce said.
Jewish families originally bought the land and then passed it down to the next generation. She Bunce said that when the Jews moved out, the families still kept the property to rent out to newcomers to the Market.
"When my brother-in-law, Morris Leider, started off this market we sold mainly European meat like the German sausages and Hungarian meat," said Kenigsberg. "But when the Jews moved north and other groups came in, then we started catering to other ethnic groups like oxtail for the blacks and Portuguese meats."
As the Jews of Toronto made their second exodus after moving to Canada, out of "Jew Town," as many called Kensington in the earlier years, a new European group set up camp in the Market.
"In a span of five years a majority of Jews left the market as the Portuguese moved in," Bunce said.
In 1931, there were 45,305 Jews in Toronto and 80 percent of them lived in the Kensington area.
Kensington Market became a major Portuguese centre in Canada. These new immigrants had a different flavour but the same feeling of community.
Bunce said the Portuguese brightened up the cheap rent area.
"They painted the houses bright colours, made gardens in the front and decorated the yard with religious icons."
As the language of the market changed from Yiddish to Portuguese so did the fight over culture with the government.
"In the 70's the Portuguese fought with the government over the size of the canopies in front of their stores," Bunce said.
In Portugal and Brazil long canopies cover the sidewalks to stop the sun from ruining the fruits sold. Bunce said the government also restricted culture by restricting the use of the sidewalk for the shop to one meter in front.
"The large fruit stands of European and Asian markets cannot exist in Kensington because the government restricts the size," Bunce said.
The Portuguese people started opening up bookstores, schools and cheese stores. Bunce said like the Jews before them, the Portuguese were not liked because they were accused of taking jobs from other Canadians.
"When I used to live in Kensington, I had this Portuguese neighbour who did not know English even after living there for over thirty years!" said Bunce.
With Kensington self-contained with everything Portuguese immigrants needed, residents did not have to venture into predominately English-speaking Toronto and therefore did not need English to live in Canada.
Like the Jews before them, the Portuguese migrated out of the area, but instead of north, the Portuguese went westward along College Street, while another group conquered the market.
After yelling at one of his Chinese workers for cleaning a meat-cutting machine, while it was still turned on, Kenigsberg explained that all the cultures that live in the market interact with one another and everyone buys from his store, except one group.
"The Greeks, the Jews, Italians, the Portuguese, all the other ethnic groups, the blacks, the South Americans, they all used to come, they still come," said Kenigsberg. "But the Chinese stick to their own for some reason."
He said that it might be a language barrier and therefore they like shopping in their own meat stores, but he also thought it was something to do with culture as well.
"They are used to the old-fashioned way, you come in, you put your hand in and feel the meat," Kenigsberg said. "But we don't allow that here."
During and after the Jewish and Portuguese era, the Chinese started making their move on Kensington through mass immigration from Hong Kong. Bunce said this new wave of immigrants were the richest group to enter Canada at that time and started to tear down the belief that immigrants were considered dangerous revolutionaries who lived off the system.
To this day, Chinatown still dominates the area west of the market. Although the city's bylaws restrict the Chinese culture, like the Portuguese and the Jews before them, by allowing stores the ability to sell products only a meter in front of their shops, Chinese markets still flourished in this area, selling anything from fruits and vegetables to garments and toys.
In the 1970's, Jamaicans, Africans, Koreans and Vietnamese moved into this area dominated by North Asians, adding a different spice to the cultural broth.
Fabian Choe's Korean father started the International Herbs store in Kensington Market 25 years ago when the area was Portuguese and a bit of Chinese.
Although he loves Kensington Market, Choe said he does not want his kids working at his shop.
"I hope my sons don't have to do this," said Choe. 'I didn't want to do this but this area is mostly family businesses, so I took over for my father because he was getting too old."
Like the Jews and the Portuguese, Choe wants something better for his children: a life outside Kensington Market.
The Jews migrated north on Bathurst, the Portuguese to the west on Harbord, and the Chinese shifted to the suburbs in Markham. The latest group to move in is university students.
"Cheap rent, cheap exotic food, many students love moving into this place," said Sharon MacDonald, who works at 'Exile,' a vintage clothing store.
Although Kensington has been labeled as an ongoing ghetto for many cultural groups, each group adds their own flavour upon to the original British land, making this area unique. Today, Kensington is not one culture's home but the home to many. The cultural buildings, markets, entertainment of China, Europe, South America and Africa can all be found in this rich neighborhood catering to the multicultural population.
Authentic Toronto Food
Printed in the Toronto Observer on February 13, 2004
Crises challenge multiculturalism
The recently announced inquiry into the Arar case should be a wakeup call that Canadas multiculturalism is not coping well when conflict arises. Multiculturalism prevents wars by allowing cultures to live together and socialize with one another on varying levels. But when crisis occurs, multiculturalism draws deeper conflict.
-Printed in the Toronto Observer on February 10, 2004
Justine Wilde wants more than just a pretty rose on Valentines Day. She wants to get high.
"When I go out partying, guys buy me joints, instead of buying me a drink," said Wilde, 19.
Promoting High Times Ltd. at the Toronto International Gift Fair this year at the Toronto Convention Centre, Dominic Jean said he is not surprised by Wildes views. He said that even the simple idea of asking a girl to chat at a coffee shop has a been given a different meaning in 2004.
"There are already coffee shops in Canada where everyone sits down and chats but people also smoke marijuana there," Jean said.
Jean explained that Montreal and Vancouver have popular coffee shops, which allow people to smoke but do not sell marijuana. Chez Marijane is a popular place to smoke and drink coffee in Montreal while Vancouver has a large coffee shop called Blunt Brothers. Authorities do not seem concerned that people are smoking marijuana in either location.
"The police just got tired busting for nothing because they cant really charge a guy having one gram," Jean said. "So they let these coffee shops stay open."
Jean said the Canadian authorities are beginning to see a shift in acceptable Canadian social customs.
"Although they would never come out and say they do, many people who are very important like police, lawyers, firefighters have come by and talked to me about their high experiences," Jean said.
The marijuana decriminalization bill (C-38) promoted by the Chretien government would have de-criminalized marijuana smoking but has yet to be re-introduced by the Martin government. Less than 30 years ago, the LeDain Commission advocated de-criminalization. This commission found that other acceptable social practices are much more harmful than marijuana such as drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes.
This Valentines Day, Wilde hopes her boyfriend will take her for a romantic, mind-altering dinner for two at Chez Marijane, instead of arriving with the old chocolate and flowers.
-Printed in the Toronto Observer on November 10, 2003
Last March, the first thing each morning, Mirijam Udin turned on her computer to see if she received an e-mail from her son.
When Udins son, Seaman second class Chris Allison, had a chance during his tour of duty aboard the USS Tortuga, he e-mailed his mother back in East York.
The USS Tortuga has served in the waters of the Persian Gulf during the Iraq War. While on duty, Allison couldnt say much about the war because secrecy prevented the ships crew from talking about action.
What he could say was that they were out patrolling, Udin said. He sometimes said hed seen planes flying over the ship but he wasnt able to say very much except that he was OK.
This uncertainty upset Udin and her husband Henry Furman. She attributed her chronic back problem to worrying about her son during his time in the Gulf.
My biggest worry was that he would be hurt or killed or that he would be forced or kill others, which would affect him very badly, she said.
Udin, a pacifist, didnt disapprove of her son going to war, nor obeying the commitment he made when he enlisted in May of 1998. She felt proud that he did what he said he would do.
I found it extremely distressing because this was not a war I believed in and it was very painful to see the Iraqi people suffering, Udin said. I also knew this was not a war my son believed in.
Allison, nicknamed Canuck aboard the Tortuga, has an American father and therefore became eligible for service in the United States Navy.
Supported his decision
In 1998, when Allison decided to enlist, Udin said her son thought ahead to the future about a possible war. Udins family tried to convince Allison to reconsider his decision, but when he decided to go, they supported him and prayed for his safety.
During the war, Udin thought of her son constantly and when she could, she would send his favorite chocolates or a teddy bear.
We would send him stuff that would remind him that life is not all war and that he was a kid at heart and should remember that, Udin said.
When Udins son came back from the war, he decided to settle down and take a shore job. He now works as a military police officer at a base in Virginia.
I was grateful that he never had to take any lives, Mirijam Udin said.
-Printed in the Toronto Observer on January 30, 2004
Torontos native and African-Canadian communities united yesterday in a call for action against racist behaviour by police.
Leaders called for mandatory cross-cultural and anti-racism training for the police. Too often, they said, sensitivity training is ordered only after a racist incident, such as the recorded remarks by OPP officers deriding native people at the Ipperwash crisis in 1995.
Those recorded comments were revealed by the CBC just last week.
At the Native Canadian Centre at Spadina and Bloor, leaders of the African-Canadian community joined with leaders of the First Nations community and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation to speak out against discrimination and racial profiling by police.
Racism against any group hurts all Canadians, said Dr. Karen Mock of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.
Maynard Sam George said the joint press conference was called in wake of last weeks CBC report, which aired tapes unwittingly recorded by the OPP the day before Georges brother, Dudley George, was shot dead by police at Ipperwash.
The incident at Ipperwash is just another incident which demonstrates racism by various levels of the police, said Zanana Akande, president of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations.
Margaret Parsons of the African Canadian Legal Clinic said the Ipperwash inquiry represents déjà vu for the African-Canadian community. She believes that the police see both cultural groups in stereotypical, racist ways.
This is a historic moment for both the aboriginal and African-Canadian communities, Parsons said. We have come together to condemn racism and the racist attitudes and behaviour that exists within our police forces across this province.
When it comes to racism in the criminal justice system, both groups are seen as the same colour, she said.
The events of Ipperwash contribute to growing distrust of police among racialized minorities, Mock said.
Parsons added that the black community finds it difficult to tell youth to trust the police after children hear of racist behaviour by police in the media.
Mott said the OPP has taken measures in policy development, training, mentoring, screening and recruitment practices to enhance diversity and counter systemic racism against aboriginal people and people of colour. But she suggested that communities must work together to restore confidence in the police services.
People with racist attitudes should be barred from joining the police force in the first place, said Earl Commanda, grand council chief of the Anishinabek Nation.
In the past, governments have advocated that police take sensitivity training to help them deal with different races.
A few hours of sensitivity training is not enough to eradicate racist attitudes that exist within the ranks of the police against African-Canadians and aboriginal peoples, Parsons said.
In a joint-statement, the leaders called on government, police, schools and cultural communities to work to improve race relations.
We need to know that we are safe and protected by the police, Commanda said.