Sunday, July 02, 2006

Oh Canada II

Perhaps this store front sign on Main St in Hamilton gives some clarification to Canadian identity. The sign reads

The Multicultural Friendship Centre Inc.
Members Only
That still makes me laugh out-loud.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't get it. Are you saying the because Canada is a multicultural society, it should be inclusive to others and do away with its "membership" policy? In other words, its inclusiveness excludes those not within its boarders? Care to explain how this sign gives clarity to Canadian Idenity?

Anonymous said...

Constructing a 'membership' policy creates parameters or guidelines, however abstract they may be, within which a 'club' or society may operate. By the very existence of these parameters, things, or people, will need to be defined as existing outside or inside the parameters. If a society is to be considered truely 'multicultural', than there should be no parameters governing inclusion in this society. Thus, no one should be excluded from the club. Perhaps the only clarity it gives is how we do not really live what we say we are. Racism is prevalent even in this 'multicultural' country.

Only a theory. And the sign is pretty damn funny...

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that the two terms "multicultural" and "inclusive" are not equivalent. Imagine a country without an imigration policy. You might be out of job. Anyway, we're probably just arguing semantics.

Anonymous said...

Racism is prevalent even in this 'multicultural' country, but its a whole lot less prevalent here than in much of the rest of world. Canadian multiculturism is idealistic for sure, but as whole I see it working.

IndieFaith said...

sorry for not getting in on this guys. the sign just struck me as at least a little ironic. i agree that canada actually does a pretty good job of wrestling with multiculturalism. however, when push comes to shove there is one cultural force directing this ship, giving it its form and direction. i am hoping to write a post on a recent experience at the canada/us border that will further explore this issue. sorry for the lack of posts. there are some in the works but life is up to its usual business taking all my time.

Anonymous said...

I am wondering if this idea of 'immigrants' from other parts of the world threating the security of local jobs is somewhat of a myth. Does anyone have any research or experience on or with this?

I am also wondering how this concept of 'multi-culturalism' translated directly into immigration policy. I was thinking about the hub of what is already in any country and how many people are excluded in subtle ways in everyday life. I see an incident of racism on the bus nearly every day...

Good point, the terms 'multi-cultural' and 'inclusive' are not equivalent. That proves the whole point.

Anonymous said...

too many anonymous' on this blog. this is a response to the last comment (2:39pm). 1) You don't need "research" or "experience" to know that if Canada had no immigration policy and that if the borders were open to anyone, anytime, it would be an economic disaster. 2) Multiculturalism wasn't translated directly into an immigration policy. But Canada could never by a multi-cultural country without such a policy. 3) I bet your exegerating when you say you see an incident of racism on the bus nearly every day. 4) "that proves the whole point:" huh?????

Anonymous said...

At work: There is an employee at work who moves at a much different pace than his co-workers, though he always gets his work done. He does not scurry around hastily like everyone else. He is very calm and methodical about his work. His speech is very direct and succinct. He is quiet much of the time otherwise. His co-workers get agitated at this, sometimes to the point of getting upset at him. He is African.

On the bus: A young man waiting for the bus was asked by some patrolling authourity if he had correct change for the bus. He was just waiting at the bus stop. The bus had stopped just as the confrontation outside had begun and when the young man got onto the bus, he was still visibly upset. I asked him what happened and he told me the story. He is from Jamaica and had been living in Canada for four years.

At work: A woman was told to put her long thick hair back into a pony-tail. Though she did not entirely look the part, no one gave her the option, no one asked if she was Muslim.

At the airport: A friend gets searched going through airport security more often than not. Though, at this point, he says, 'If they are polite and professional about it and do their job, I don't mind.' He from an Arab country, now a Canadian citizen and has been living in Canada for seven years.

Of course, these are only my perceptions of the events. If, to you, this appears to be an exaggeration, then, to you, it is an exaggeration and I have wasted your time.

Perhaps the tragedy is that we are all racist simply because we are all ignorant with respect to some other frame of reference which is foreign to us. Might I speculate that none of us knows everything or has experienced everything.

Maybe improvement is the best we can hope for.

IndieFaith said...

To add,

My parents were out for a brief visit and for one day we planned a trip to Niagara Falls. We happened to miss our exit and as a result had cross over the border into New York state. Unfortunately we did not all have our I.D. along and so needed to go through immigration before we could enter back into Canada. Without getting into some of my other reflections on the time spent in there we eventually were able to see an officer who told us. "Well you like Canadians, if there is such a thing." We had mentioned we were from Hamilton and my parents from Manitoba to which he added, "If you were from Toronto you might look like strangers." Hmmm . . .

Exclusion is necessary for forms to be distinguished otherwise we have the pre-created tohu w bohu . . . formless and void reality of Genesis 1:2. All would be a blur. Pray for forms of healing, clear arms that hold.

Anonymous said...

What does tohu w bohu mean? Formless and void?

Anonymous said...

Exclusion is necessary? Perhaps spend some time reading Hindu theory...

IndieFaith said...

Yah, I imagine I would not accept much Hindu theory from what I know of it (but feel free to offer some of it). I see it as just as imperialistic as the next view which tells me what my identity is (a drop in the ocean or something like that). I hope to elaborate on that further in an upcoming post. Also I did not say rejection but exclusion, and perhaps there is a better word. However, I maintain that for a painting, the lines of the flower must say to the lines of the vase, "You are not me and I am not you." I believe this would also be true of more "absract" art. Boundaries and limits are necessary for art and communication. This does not mean that their relationship is not vitally important. To comment on my most recent post I would love to and hope to spend time speaking and engaging people of the Muslim faith. However, this engagement would be banal and perhaps disrespectful if I enter into it with the assumption that we are both the same and that were beliefs and practices that may be mutually exclusive to each other.

Note: Yes tohu w bohu is Hebrew for "formless and void" although the two words are better understood with the addition of images of deep chaos and unexpressed existence. In many ways I see this drawing close to concepts of the sacred, but as such it is not the maniputable domain of the human.

Anonymous said...

It is we who have constructed these boundaries? A vase is a vase because we call it so. And the same for the flower. We have defined them seperately in our language. Just as English has no word for the smell of rain on the sidewalk, the Spanish language does and, perhaps in some other element, the rose and the vase are one and are seen as part of something greater. One sees a rose and vase. Another sees the warm nape of a woman's neck. Yet another sees a flare of scarlet light, the sun setting over water.

Do we place the boundaries where we want them? To extend only as far as we can presently see? A human construction?

Questions and questions...

IndieFaith said...

Thanks (I'm not sure to which anonymous; feel free to take on cool web names to distinguish yourself). A good observation. One thing I am increasingly convinced of is the gratuity of art and beauty, that it gives greatly of itself. So I certainly do not wish to confine or unecessarily limit with boundaries. However, I am also increasingly convinced that the reception of beauty/holiness moves through form and form is distinguished by boundaries. This may not be an absolutely fixed reality but a reality our humanity must deal with.

Do we place the boundaries where we want them? Or perhaps further are these boundaries the product of our social environment? (as you may be alluding to in the first part of your comment) I don't think we can have it one way or the other. We heavily influence the interpretation of our surrounding. However, I also believe that there is a reality that is not contingent on our influence and interpretation. This is a reality (truth/beauty/holiness) that we are able to participate in and express through particular forms . . . which takes us back to the issue of boundaries.

How this relates to my initial post I am too tired to attempt right now but thanks for all the feedback.