new here

The Toronto Star has a special section on immigration and diversity in Canada. It looks really interesting; I'm going to read a lot of it before I post about it. (I know, how retro.)

From the front page of the hard copy:
A groundbreaking poll of Canadian immigrants shows a country pointed in a fresh direction. Our nation's newest builders are younger, smarter, healthier and committed to Canada. But if you're a fan of beer or baseball, you should know you'll soon be in the minority.
You know what's funny about an observation like that? It assumes that no one changes in their new home, that immigrants don't pick up habits from their countries of choice, which of course can't be true. I'd bet quite a few fans of beer, hockey - and even baseball - are created in Canada.

One section follows a handful of new immigrants through their first year. I don't think there are any US political defectors among the people interviewed, but then, very few of us have passed our first year yet.


M@ said...

I recently heard an Indian man on the radio who had immigrated to Canada about five years ago. He said that he had never seen hockey before he came here, and he was hooked when he saw the first game -- he said he still can't get over the speed and intensity.

Surely other sports will have their converts also. And if immigrants want to bring more soccer with them, as far as I'm concerned, that's great!

But what a comment like that one about the beer and baseball does is show how immigrants are still being portrayed as the other. They're foreign, they'll eat strange food and play strange sports. It's stupid and irrelevant.

And if the only reason a person was a baseball fan was that the majority of the population were fans too, well, I guess I'd feel pretty sorry for that person.

laura k said...

I agree, it's stupid. I got the feeling they were just looking for fresh angles. Let's talk to beer marketers about beer sales to immigrants, let's see what sports people watch.

Everything changes. Canada will change with new immigrants, and the people who come here will change from being here. Nothing is static - not even beer sales and attendance at hockey games.

M@ said...

I know, eh? Doesn't that just scare the crap out of you!?!?

Uh, yeah. Me either. Guess we'll just... carry on.

barefoot hiker said...

You know what's funny about an observation like that? It assumes that no one changes in their new home, that immigrants don't pick up habits from their countries of choice...

It's funny you brought that up! That same issue came up when I was downtown on Saturday for the Lesbian Parade (first time caller, longtime fan). He mentioned the article and managed to find it at a restaurant where we stopped for a while, and I found myself at odds with just that exact same assertion. It amazed me that anyone in Canada (or North America generally) after about 1850 could say something like that... "them'uns is different", that kind of thing. If that really were the case, Canada should have filled up by now with little conclaves of mutual exclusion where people spoke Ukranian and ate perogies, spoke Italian and ate spaghetti, spoke Japanese and ate sushi, and never the twain shall meet. But think varied life is. I'm not even an immigrant and I've changed and adopted new ways. I grew up in a home where chicken fried rice — in fact, anything that wasn't either bland WASP chow (ooo, careful with that pepper!) or fatty French Canadian fare (et encore une infarction pour le monsieur?) — was foreign and exotic. It wasn't until I was an adult that I learned to eat Indian, Thai, Mexican, and Eastern European foods, and love them all (a little too much). Sure, people are going to arrive and bring their words and their games and their foods and their beliefs, and those will endure. They may even find purchase in the soil here and become our own (what would a Torontonian of 1850 have made of pizza, I wonder?). But to suggest people will come here and be impervious to the culture of Canadians and their fellow immigrants does a disservice, I think, both to the attractiveness of Canadian culture and the adaptability of the people who come to make it their home in it. Most assuredly 'their' ways will become 'our' ways with time... but the reverse is also true. After all, I've even heard some newcomers adopt the custom of taking their shoes off when they go indoors. ;)

laura k said...

This is as brilliant an observation as ever you've made, LP. :)