Wednesday, April 02, 2008

South Asians Most Visible In Canada

According to the latest census, South Asians are now the top visible minority group in Canada, outnumbering those of Chinese descent. Canada also has more South Asian Members of Parliament than from any other minority group, and politics in Canada has also become "browner", as evident by this BBC article.

Of course when Canadians talk of South Asians, they are talking mostly about peple with Indian, Pakistani or Sri Lankan origin (curiously the Star article references a country called "Tamil"). Bangladeshis are statistically insignificant (for now) even though we have our own town in Toronto, something Pakistani-Canadians cannot say!

What does all this increase in numbers mean for us? Does Canada now get more 'brownie' points? For the moment, beyond more samosa and halal stores, beyond more shops selling pirated DVDs, beyond more Desifests and cricket clubs, at the moment I don't see much changing.

Yes, it will be talked about for a while but in the end, what matters is action. And as the Star article correctly notes after the first few paragraphs, employment conditions for immigrants and those with foreign degrees in Canada remains abysmal. None of the foreign degrees are recognized and one could spend years trying to achieve accreditation. All this potential is lost to Canada. If you are a Muslim hibabi immigrant, you have a triple whammy.

I have been to Bangladeshi organizations where any meaningful cooperation is impossible because the top people are hung over their political differences. And this is not even politics in Canada - it's about who is a Awami League and who is a BNP supporter! These are political parties in Bangladesh! It is said if there's three Bangladeshis in a room there will be two political parties with one independent.

Numbers don't mean a thing unless people can get organized and united in demanding change. After all, Muslims are now the top religious group in the world (according to the Vatican), and fat lot of good it is doing to us!


Molly said...

Never having been to Toronto (a serious problem I will inshAllah rectify at some point in my life) I can't say from experience, but in my perception desis in Toronto live in a better atmosphere than desis here in the TC. Although its pretty good here too. But from what I have heard, Toronto is spoken of with the same tone of voice as the promised land.

Although I have heard of situations of severe racism, even in Toronto itself. I was gonna marry a guy and move up there, but it didn't work out.

I guess I was more excited to move to TO than marry the guy.


Anonymous said...

"employment conditions for immigrants and those with foreign degrees in Canada remains abysmal. "

This may be true, but how do you explain Indians doing much better than pakistanis or bangladesis. Not only in Canada but also in UK. In fact in UK Indians are way ahead of Pakistanis and Bangladesis in social strata.

'liya said...

At school today we had a bake sale to raise money for charity and the samosas were the FIRST things gone (as usual) - I didn't even get any, all that was left when I got to the front of the line was carrot cake and muffins.

mezba said...

Molly: You MUST come to Toronto. Despite its faults Toronto is way ahead of other cities when it comes to being a nice city to live. Extremely diverse, big city yet low crime and relatively safe, and quite tolerant of many cultures.

Anon @ 2.57:
This may be true, but how do you explain Indians doing much better than pakistanis or bangladesis.

Where's the data? First of all, disregarding the huge disparity in terms of numbers of Indians compared to others, there is no proof that one group is better than others - the percentage of success remains the same amongst all South Asians in Canada. In fact, many Indian restaurants in London are actually owned by Bangladeshis.

As far as education goes, Indians have a few more world class institutions than others but there's no proof that it helps them get credited faster in Canada - Canada remains woeful in recognizing foreign degrees.

Liya: Samosas are so tasty! No wonder it went first, who wants carrot sandwich? lol

Anonymous said...

I thought pakistani neighbourhood was at Thorncliffe, you know, that area they have Iqbal grocery???? I get mistaken alot to be a pakistani whenever am in that neighbourhood or sometimes I get these *looks* coz am with husband and he doesn't look anything close to a pakistani, lol!
It is true that Toronto still faces some racial discriminations especially for us women who are hijabis but am grateful am here and not anywhere else. My relatives who are in other european countries have told me the racism they face daily and it's just sad. Toronto is more culturally diverse and you can just see it when you are on a bus or a classroom, no one can claim that it's *their* country unless of course they sprung up from land(Canada)as all of us had to come from somewhere. I think my caucasians assume that if you are white then you are Canadian, I just don't get it when someone says, oh, you know that Canadian person(meaning white), who started that btw, I really wanna know!!! Am Canadian too and am not white! :) sf

mezba said...

sf: strange I thought I had replied to you. As far as that area goes it's mostly a couple of stores (all owned by Iqbal chain it seems) and the other stuff is Afghani too.