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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Resting, Not Nesting

After a vociferous chat with a fellow Canadian who is also Brown, I argued that immigrants to Canada should actually assimilate into Canadian culture (and there is one, no matter what people like to crap-on about)...

My feelings are that when immigrants come to Canada, it is because they wanted to do so because they felt that Canada offered them certain socio-economic advantages that they could not achieve in their former home country.

So… if that’s true, why not actually embrace the country that has those great advantages - those advantages that are so effing important that you’d leave a country for it?

Keep your religion, but why not actually try and fit in?

Canada was long ago called the world's-best melting pot because we were home to so many immigrants from so many different cultures… but the truth is, Canada is no effin’ melting pot.

It’s the uncooked cuisine where all the ingredients are tossed into a bowl, but aren't mixed together.

It's like an untossed salad. While I have heard that some people actually eat salads, I still wonder why there's such a push-back from people actually becoming—heart and soul—Canadian.

Ask anyone person in Canada just what they are, and each will stupidly say they are Italian, or they are Scottish or Polish or German or Indian or Ethiopian or whatever… not a single damn Canadian in the bunch.

People here talk about how “in my country, we really enjoy food” as though no one in any other country enjoys food. How effing ignorant is that?

Canadians enjoy food, and not just pemmican and beaver burgers.

I have no problems with people coming in with, and maintaining, whatever religion they like - whatever makes you happy - be happy.

But the thing that irks me, is the cluster-fug of people of one culture feeling they need to live in the same community.

Granted the roots of a Chinatown, first appearing in San Francisco were born of racism… keep’em all together, and don’t allow them to leave those borders of the city—that really happened in San Francisco, by the way.

But it still doesn’t explain why there’s pockets of such communities in Toronto that are known as Chinatown, Little India, Greektown.

When my folks arrived in Toronto, we lived right downtown in the Bloor and Yonge area. After moving to new developments in Malton, a part of Mississauga, they left after two years because all of a sudden all the other people of India and Pakistan moved in.

It’s like they thought this was a safe area, let’s all move in together.

I get it… but my parents thought… you know what… we left India for England and then Canada because India wasn’t hep enough to raise a child and afford him some of the best opportunities in the world.

If they wanted to be surrounded by other Indians et al, they would have stayed in India.

They came to Canada for the adventure of it. It wasn't to make Canada into a smaller version of the country they left. Hell… we all became Canadian citizens - all of us - as soon as we were legally able to do so.

We embraced it all. Often as the only minority family in the area we lived in.

Am I sad that I am not in touch with my India(n) heritage? No. Not one bit. You can't miss what you don't know.

I have my own Canadian heritage.

What’s wrong with that?

I ain’t no hyphen-Canadian. I’m just Andrew, a citizen of Canada.

Of course this article will elicit such wonderful comments from people claiming I can’t be a Canadian because I’m not White, but then again, I bet I know more about Canadian history than damn near 99% of the people in Canada.

I know more about Canadian history with regards to political, aviation, hockey, baseball, basketball, lacrosse and maybe track and field than most people in this country… the same for Canadian television history… and that’s just talking about “history”. I’m weak on my CFL (Canadian Football League), but my best friend’s dad player for the Hamilton Ti-cats.

I’ve driven across Canada and met the people - both coasts - and look forward to one day visiting our three Territories.

I coach soccer, baseball and hockey. Played roadhockey, sandlot baseball, shot hoops at the school yard, can snowshoe, paddle a canoe and a kayak… and yeah… I have eaten pemmican, moose, snake and buffalo. I’ve even gone fishing with a Mohawk chief, personally met a few Prime Ministers, flown in a Lear Jet with a provincial Minister of the Environment, carried a coffin with the Federal Minister of Finance. I even wrote for one of the top newspapers in North America in the Toronto Star.

I’m just saying, I might not look like the typical Canadian from 60 years ago, but I’ve done more things as the original Voyageurs did to more than qualify as a Canadian.

People who say Canada lacks a culture are too stuck in their own former-home culture.

I had previously written about 3,000 words on why I hate hyphen-Canadians, and explaining why I think that people who say Canada doesn’t have a culture are stupid.

I wrote about how I wish people would actually relinquish most of their culture to become more Canadian…

That’s what Canadian culture is… a mix of people who come from different cultures, who create a more homogeneous culture… something similar to what Star Trek wants… a people of Earth.

But… I decided I was too angry, so I put it aside.

It was all meant as a lead-in to my actual topic.

We all know that there are places in our city (yours and mine, more than likely) called Little India, Chinatown, Greektown, and stuff like that.

While it was so-named because that was where people of a like-background set up roots (except for the Chinatown in San Fransisco… where the Chinese were forced to remain within the boundaries of Chinatown, and were not allowed to leave), nowadays, we all know it as a place where we can get foods and other goods of that particular culture.

So why, outside of Japan, is there no huge hubbub of a hub for Japanese? Where the J-town?

I’m sure many a community can claim to have a J-town, but I bet they are tiny areas… and spread out a bit…

I know that most of the restaurants that sell Japanese food aren’t owned and operated by Japanese folk—usually Korean or Chinese.

I don’t have the Japanese palette to be able to discern if my sushi was made by Korean, Chinese or legitimate Japanese hands (that was sarcasm there folks), but it does irk me a bit.

Then again… why the fug is Japanese food so damned expensive everywhere but in Japan?

For $30 (and that’s weak, Canadian dollars), I can get a meal for myself, wife and tweenaged boy… and a second one the next day from the leftovers!

For $60 I can get a Japanese meal for the three of us—no leftovers—and damned if I’m not hungry still, willing to eat those bland, white styrofoam-like noodles that come with the tempura. I have no idea if I’m supposed to eat them or not, but I haven’t died yet, so what the heck.

Can’t someone in Toronto set-up a cheap noodle shop? Can’t I get pork kontatsu and Bulldog sauce (made from real bulldogs) (I’m kidding. It’s synthetic bulldog)? How about yakitori? Why should that cost me $10? It’s half that in Japan.

It’s just chicken bits on a skewer with a magic sauce brushed on it and barbecued over over a grill upon hot coals.

Oh yeah… the ingredients are fresh… as opposed to all the rotten ingredients I get in my Ethiopian food. Not. The Japanese restaurants will tell you the fish is fresh… sure… I’m betting it’s still refrigerated or frozen at some point in time.

These Japanese restaurants may think they are catering to Canadians of Japanese decent, but they aren’t. It's mostly Canadians... I don't know how many people outside of Japan could tell you if the food they are eating is legitimately fresh or not.

How many Japanese actually live in Canada?

Well, and I know this is still six-year-old information, but in 2011, the entire population of Canada consisted of an immigrant pool of 20.6%, meaning one in five people were an immigrant.

As of 2011, 25,805 Japanese lived in Canada, according to Statistics Canada.

The largest groups of Japanese live in British Columbia: 12,355 - 48% - it’s the province closest to Japan; Ontario: 8,015 - 31%; and Alberta with 2,940 people or 11%. That’s 90% of all Japanese immigrants in those three provinces.

The only part of Canada lacking a Japanese person is the territory of Nunavut. Hey - who wants to be No. 1?

Anyhow… small numbers, right? I’m always surprised when I find a full-blown Japanese-born family living in Toronto. Actually, I’ll let you know when that happens.

While yes, the Japanese did move to… well… basically Vancouver as early as 1877 until 1927… I would bet that Japanese stopped moving to Canada when its fascist government ideals starting poking up at around that time…

And for those poor souls who were Canadians of Japanese decent living in Canada when WWII broke out against the US in December of 1941… they were sent to internment camps as horrible, I am sure, as what Americans of Japanese decent were facing.

Yeah… fug you very much, Canada. People have moved on past that humiliation, I believe. Mostly.

But that’s not the point.

The point is that while local economies have tried to create such nomenclature as J-town and Little India, these things aren’t as big as a Chinatown or Greektown because when these immigrants came over, they didn’t feel the need to congregate so much.

The India Indians do… but that’s only to live. They tend to congregate in certain parts of the province... not my neck of the woods, though... I’m still the only minority on the street after 44 years. Really. Okay, my Fillipino buddies moved out 10 years ago.

But… there is a J-town in Toronto, but unlike other cultures, they don’t live where they work.

Okay… I have no way of knowing that… maybe some do… but they didn’t grow up there… they didn’t go to school there… where’s the Buddhist temples? Where are the Shinto shrines? There aren’t any…

But there are all these restaurants and shops:

Yup… in Toronto, it’s on Dundas Street between University Avenue and Yonge Street, the world’s longest street, and for about 300 meters (985 feet), you can kill a day trying to be Japanese.

That’s just less than 9x the length of my backyard. Or a little over 4x the size of my house property.

Maybe you could spend a few hours in Little Tokyo or J-Town or whatever the heck it is.

The Japanese, when they leave Japan, don’t nest together as much as people from other cultures do.

Hmm… if I ever find a family of Japanese people in Toronto, I’ll ask them why, or if I am even correct in my “nesting assumption.”

Andrew Joseph

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