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Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in Canada Essay

“You know the world is off tilt when the best rapper is a white guy (Eminem), the best golfer is a black guy (Tiger Woods), the tallest basketball player is Chinese (Yao Ming, 7’6″) and Germany doesn’t want to go to war (in Iraq)”. Charles Barkley stated in a 2003 interview, pointing out various misconceptions with stereotypes. A stereotype is defined by dictionary. com as: “something conforming to a fixed or general pattern; especially: an often oversimplified or biased mental picture held to characterize the typical individual of a group”.

I have commonly heard stereotypes such as the French are good cooks, Italians are great lovers, and the Irish are lazy or comments made like dumb jock, lazy Cape Bretoner, or that women are not strong!! The list could go on endlessly as there appears to be stereotypes regarding people of all races, religions, sexes and ethnic groups, etcetera. Stereotypes can be either positive or negative. Most stereotypes tend to make us feel superior in some way to the person or group being stereotyped. Stereotypes ignore the uniqueness of individuals by painting all members of a group with the same brush.

Throughout the course of this paper I plan to discuss some racial and ethnic issues in Canada. Where some of these issues originated from, what we can personally do to help eliminate discrimination in the workplace and what the government is doing to try to combat such discrimination. Let me first begin by defining discrimination, racism and ethnicity since these terms are all important terms to understand before going into further discussion. To discriminate is simply defined by yourdictionary. com as: “To make distinctions on the basis of class or category without regard to individual merit; show preference or prejudice.

” Therefore, discrimination occurs when a person is not treated equally because of their gender, race, religion, ethnic origin, nationality, sexual orientation, or age. Yourdictionary. com defines racism as: “The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others. Discrimination or prejudice based on race. ” In other words, when an individual or group is treated unfairly or abused because of their skin color or racial heritage they are victims of racism. Ethnic, as defined by yourdictionary.

Com is: “Of or relating to a sizable group of people sharing a common and distinctive racial, national, religious, linguistic, or cultural heritage. B. Being a member of a particular ethnic group, especially belonging to a national group by heritage or culture but residing outside its national boundaries. ” With that being said, it is my belief that stereotypes and ignorance about others most often lead to discriminatory behavior both inside and outside the workplace. I have heard Canada described as a multicultural nation meaning that Canadians are not of any one cultural background, race or heritage.

For all Canadians, including Aboriginal People, this multicultural diversity can be traced to an immigrant past. This does not mean that the majority of today’s Canadians are immigrants but rather that the majority of Canadians have in their past, perhaps many generations ago, a family member who migrated here from another country. That is why many of us have a mixed ancestry, for example; Irish, Scottish, Ukrainian, French and Aboriginal, and the list can go on. Canada’s Aboriginal People were the first to immigrate, and settle across the continent, tens of thousands of years before European settlers.

After the European settlers came the French, followed by the English, Scots and Irish formulating Canada into the diverse country it is today. In the years before the American Civil War, thousands of black slaves escaped slavery in the United States by following the “Underground Railway” north to Canada. Then, at the turn of the century, American farmers moved northward into the Canadian prairies to develop farm lands. Although Canada originally consisted of a wide variety of immigrants, some people were not as welcome in the country as others and were therefore not treated equally.

Those who were of different race, color, or religion then the majority of Canadians were labeled as “foreigners”. The use of the term “foreigner” held many connotations for example, different, strange or inferior and many at the time wanted to see the “foreigners” assimilate to fit into Canadian society. There are many events in Canada’s past that has contributed to the racism and discrimination in Canada today for example, the disregard and unfair treatment of Aboriginal Peoples by European’s who settled here.

Even though a vast majority of African-Americans moved to Canada to avoid slavery, from early in the 1600’s until 1834 there was a recorded 4092 slaves throughout the country, mostly living in Quebec . The Asiatic Exclusion League, which originated in California in 1905 as an anti-Oriental movement, moved north into Vancouver in 1907. The league was the main instigator in anti-Asian riots in the city since their main goal was to have all Chinese and Japanese immigrants removed from North America out of fear that they were taking jobs away from Whites .

It also appears that throughout history the acceptance of immigrants in Canada greatly depended upon the economic state of the country at that time. During the Great Depression of the 1930’s immigrants seeking jobs were unwelcome and overlooked for employment. Although the Government of Canada has made many advances in breaking the barriers that Aboriginal People, immigrants and minorities face in the country; immigrants today still face a number of problems when trying to enter the labor market, for example: ? Non-recognition of international credentials and work experience ? Lack of Canadian work experience ?

Inability to communicate in English or French ?Insufficient labor market information prior to immigrating to Canada I have traveled to some of the major cities in Canada and was a little surprised by the degree of segregation that is apparent in these cities. By this, I mean that these larger cities, like Toronto and Vancouver, have communities which are almost completely independent from the rest of the country. These independent communities that I saw, of Chinese or Italian people, seemed to have everything they needed to survive within the community including their own schools.

I could not help but wonder what effect this type of segregation has on the country. I respect the fact that all people are trying to protect their identity. At the same time, by choosing to live in Canada, shouldn’t they try to integrate into the country a little more while still preserving their identities? Shouldn’t they try to assimilate? How can Canada thrive as a country with so much segregation? We need to become a unified country. Not such a historical thought pattern, I guess!!

It is people who have attitudes like mine that are causing problems in the country or do all people have these thoughts and choose not to admit it. I have similar negative feelings about scholarships being available only to certain people or government funding for certain people to attend university because they are a minority. I understand that differential treatment is required in order for equality to become a possibility. However, I still feel a degree of resentment about these programs being offered when I have to borrow money in an effort to obtain my university degree.

Will this resentment evolve? When I hold a management position in the future, will I discriminate against a person because he or she doesn’t have a huge student loan to pay and another does? It is cases like mine that causes racism to continue in society and the workplace today? With the announcement of Nova Scotia’s plan to increase immigration into the province came an increase in the racist comments I have heard. Since I work in bars I hear, and partake in, a great deal of conversation. When people are drinking they tend to be even more likely to say things they normally wouldn’t.

That is why I have heard, at times, some very racist remarks. People have said that the government should be trying to retain people in the province that are born here before they bring “foreigners” here. They need to take care of their own first!! It is because of these comments and feelings that I am doubtful that discrimination against people, because of their race or color, will ever be completely eliminated in the country. How do we achieve equality with so much differentiation? How do we check or personal opinions at the door when we go to work?

Since it is impossible to eliminate racism and discrimination entirely in society, we need to do as much as possible to eliminate it in the workplace. We need to make changes similar to the changes companies have made in an effort to combat discrimination against people because of their religion. For example, adapting zero tolerance rules, providing more education for employees, human resource departments need to provide more opportunities for people of minorities, immigrants, and Aboriginal Peoples and barriers have to be removed for all these people who are trying to enter our labor market.

March 21, 2005 is International Day for Elimination of Racial Discrimination a day to remember the struggles and challenges that Aboriginal peoples and people of color have endured. It is also a time to recognize and applaud the fact that members of these two communities have made anti-racism struggles a significant part of labor’s agenda. Lets’ respect this day and try to make some positive changes at home, school, or work toward eliminating racism.


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