January 16th, 2019

It’s all about getting to know one another


By Letter to the Editor on January 10, 2019.

Every time I travel in Canada, I am repeatedly surprised to find a rapidly changing outlook of ethnic makeup. I stayed for a week in December in the area of Vancouver which used to be a white Anglo-Saxon middle-class enclave. Now it’s all Chinese. I was shocked initially. But soon I found myself having fun. Good food to begin with. However, I can understand some people get upset. Though many of us have the ability to adjust in time, some need more time.

My daughter began schooling in Lesotho, Africa with African and European friends. We lived in the housing compound for the university staff who came from several countries. It was a regular stop for the South African tourist bus. At home, they lived in racially segregated areas, so they were curious about an integrated community. Through bus windows, they looked at our children playing together like they were looking at animals in a game reserve. In turn, our children made faces at them.

The first time she showed fear of people appearing not African nor European was at the airport. She was seven years old. She saw a group of Chinese agricultural advisers who just landed as a part of the Chinese foreign aid program. She was frightened even though they looked like her parents. But for her, Asians should be only one or two persons; not a big crowd. It is always a bit unsettling to run into a bunch of people who appear unfamiliar. This is not racism nor xenophobia. Fear of strangers is a natural instinct. We will get used to it in time and will forget the difference. You have to be intentionally determined to remember the difference to stay suspicious.

It’s all about getting to know each other. I once worked in a rural church congregation at the time of the heated debate about homosexuality. There was a longtime member of the choir who was openly gay. He was everybody’s friend, not an issue. The case of ethnicity is the same. Once you get to know someone and become a friend, all distinctions disappear.

A recently broadcast comedy drama on CBC was about a struggling African immigrant family in England. It ends with a line: “In the long run, we are all the same.” We may look different, but biologically we all belong to one and the same family of species.

Tadashi (Tad) Mitsui

Lethbridge

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10 Responses to “It’s all about getting to know one another”

  1. lonestar says:

    God Bless you Mr. Mitsui – thanks for another gem.

    However your parting line “…….biologically we all belong to one and the same family of species” may be up for debate by psychologists reading the commentary in this forum. Fertile fodder for study rest assured.

  2. biff says:

    tad, your open heart warms and enlightens. thank you.
    i agree we all originate from and return to the same.
    what i feel bothers some, as it still does me, are the racial/ethnic/religious enclaves that mushroom, instead of a truer interaction among peoples in canada. this suggests to me our population still is lacking in openness, with far too many closed hearts among us.

  3. IMO says:

    “what i feel bothers some, as it still does me, are the racial/ethnic/religious enclaves that mushroom”. – biff

    According to data gathered in the 2016 national census, approximately 73% of Canadian citizens are Caucasian – of European ancestry and white.

    This raises an important question as to why biff does not refer to white people as representing a “racial/ethnic/religious” enclave?

    After all, with colonisation, non-Indigenous enclaves “mushroomed” across this country.

    Moreover, in this very community, the rail line running through the center of downtown marks an historical demarcation line that biff is perhaps not familiar with:

    Residents of British heritage – south of the railroad.
    Residents of non-British heritage, i.e. European – north of the railroad.

    Many questions arise regarding the reasoning behind biff’s reference to “enclaves” and assertion that there are “far too many closed hearts”.

  4. lonestar says:

    We may be wrong IMO, but over many years we couldn’t help but notice doors held open for our wonderful kind thoughtful indigenous friends who 9 times out of ten walk right past as if the door opened automatically for them.

    No thanks, no eye contact, smile – nothing!

    We notice this perhaps unintentional slight among evil white folks too, especially those of the “enclaves” surrounding our community, but not anywhere near as often.

    We therefore must conclude the racial/ethic/religious door very often swings numerous ways perhaps more than you observe.

    And many thanks for the history lesson – we bet many folks did not know that, and we’d forgotten.

  5. biff says:

    also ty for the history lesson, imo. here is what i know: there are ignorant haters in every ethnic/racial/religious circle. my hope is that we will evolve, and come to see that all living organisms deserve respect and compassionate treatment. as for enclaves – they suck. they demonstrate separation, and disunity…and we know that separate is counter to equal (consider the american ruling in brown v board of education topeka).
    meanwhile, the proportion of white europeans being greater than that of other races and ancestries may gave something to do with the colonial history of canada over the last 450 years…but i am sure you know about that topic more than i…maybe more than anyone in the world. does that mean that canada presently accepts more white european immigrants and refugees than any other group? that would be curious given that white saxons are decreasing proportionally in canada. but, i don;t have to tell you that – you already know, eh? imo, at times you seem to focus too much on that axe you wish to grind, and that can get in the way of a better discussion.

  6. IMO says:

    My goodness! Such vitriol!

    The “we” of lonestar does not speak for me.

    I find difficulty in understanding how addressing racism resembles an “an axe…to grind”?

    Better discussion? I welcome well articulated thoughtful discourse. For example, in light of the reference to Brown v Board of Education Topeka (1954), the last segregated schools in Canada closed in Ontario in 1965 and in Nova Scotia in 1983? The last Indian Residential School closed in 1996.

    Whether one lives in a so called enclave or not, it is apparent that the major point Mr. Mitsui is making has been lost to both lonestar and biff:

    “The case of ethnicity is the same. Once you get to know someone and become a friend, all distinctions disappear.” – Tadashi (Tad) Mitsui

  7. Seth Anthony says:

    The notion of “We’re all the same” in the regard to which you speak, is profoundly narrow minded and destructive.


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