One of our readers forwarded to us, a ‘letter to the Editor’.
The letter was an interesting write up by Ray Lin of Richmond, B.C. to the Richmond Review, the local community newspaper. Lin’s letter was a response to an earlier commentary.
Richmond, B.C. has a very large Asian community (namely, Chinese), and is a city that has experienced some very public racist outbursts, in the form of graffiti.
Most recently, earlier this month. The recent racist scrawl, with anti-semitic remarks, did not receive as much media attention as an earlier piece of graffiti last year (see our earlier post, “is there more to the Richmond racist graffiti” ).
Richmond was also the city Prime Minister Harper chose to launch his previous election campaign kick off – at the home of a Chinese family.
And this did not go unnoticed.
The residents of Richmond gave strong approval to Mr Harper’s visit in the resulting polls, by voting in Conservative Alice Wong. And in doing so, defeating … no, make that crushing then incumbent Liberal Raymond Chan, with 21,329 votes to Chan’s 13,221 votes.
So what is it about Richmond and her quiet Chinese integration tension that appears to be simmering? Our blog had earlier looked at language and assimilation (see earlier post here).
Here’s another perspective. It’s a letter written by Mr Lin, courtesy of the Richmond Review (link here):
“Assimilation was never intended”
March 26, 2011
In D.M. North’s March 4 letter (“Lessons on integration”), the letter-writer once again brought up the assimilation topic. While the letter-writer did present some valid reasons of why the Chinese in Richmond would not practice English, unfortunately the biggest reason was left out in his article.
The truth may be shocking for some, but I feel a frank but honest discussion is more healthy than being polite but hypocritical: For many of the Chinese in Vancouver, becoming Canadian was never a reason why we moved here, nor do we have the desire to do so. Rather, we see ourselves as Chinese expatriates, living in Canada for a short-term purpose, be it providing our kids to an easier education environment, setting up a business, or even just taking a long vacation.
Much like many Canadians who spend some years living overseas and eventually return to their homeland, a lot of us would just spend several years in Canada and eventually return to Asia. With that mindset in mind, it would be silly to think that many expatriates would actually take the effort and learn a foreign language, in this case English.
Furthermore, many Chinese simply see Canada as a vacation home, allowing them to come for a couple of months every year and enjoy Canada’s great outdoors after a year of hard work in China. Much like many Americans who have a vacation home in Mexico, would anyone actually expect these Americans to take learning Spanish seriously? Rather, the Americans would expect the area where his Mexican vacation home is located to be an English friendly environment, and the same goes for us Chinese expatriates, and this has made Richmond the way it is today, catering to Chinese expatriates like me and many others.
I really do hope the Canadians can come to the realization that we are here not because we wanted to be Canadian, but simply because we like the resource this country provides to us. Much like many of your ancestors who came to this land, not because of they wanted to become natives, but because they desire the resources and opportunities in this land.
So please, my friends, set your expectations right.
… and here is the March 4th letter Mr Ray Lin is responding to:
Published: March 04, 2011
There have been many letters on this issue on multiculturalism, integration and assimilation.
I believe that recently there has been resentment, friction and frustration pertaining to Chinese community. They are not to blame—media and our local past and present council are.
Before this occurred new immigrants learned English because they had in order be heard and understood. An example is the large Punjabi speaking group that arrived prior to those from Hong Kong—this group has done well in mastering English.
For some reason, when the large influx of Chinese came to the city, somehow council, in its wisdom, started having announcements, notices etc. in Chinese. This was never done before for other languages.
The Chinese people aren’t at fault. Why should they learn English if it’s presented to them in their our own language everywhere they turn? Because of this situation the Chinese community has taken this advantage to the extreme such as:
•businesses not answering their telephones in English;
•signs so large one can’t find the English;
•neighbours unable to communicate.
This all leads to friction and frustration.
I challenge and encourage the Chinese community to be the ones to take the initiative to let city hall know they don’t want all this translation thank you, but want to fully be Canadian citizens and integrate.
Multiculturalism, integration and assimilation must go together—let’s bring Richmond back into Canada.