Racism in Paradise: Whether it’s deliberate or subconscious, Canadians still have prejudices

Published: October 9, 2013
Serge Rai

Serge Rai is one of several people who filed a human rights complaint against the Shark Club in Langley, accusing the bar of discrimination when bouncers refused them entry one night. Mark van Manen , THE PROVINCE

SUSAN LAZARUK
THE PROVINCE

What us, racist?

Despite Canada’s multicultural policy and our liberal immigration rules, you don’t have to look far to find examples of racism.

Ask Serge Rai, a Surrey construction company owner, who filed a complaint of racial discrimination against the Shark Club in Langley, alleging he, his wife and some of their South Asian friends were denied entry to the club one night in December 2011 because of their brown skin.

The club’s bouncers, one of whom pleaded guilty to assaulting Rai that night, and its lawyers denied the allegations during a recent human rights tribunal hearing.

But the tribunal agreed with the three complainants, ordering the Shark Club to pay them $10,000 each for injury to their dignity and self-respect.

Rai said they felt vindicated by the ruling and said it lends credence to the suspicion that he and other South Asians have that nightclubs across Metro Vancouver have a door policy designed to maintain a mix of whites and non-whites.

“What are we supposed to do, complain about it every time it happens?” he said.

He said Indo-Canadians endured name-calling and beatings when they were younger.

“Now it’s more subtle,” he said.

Hate groups exist in B.C., and anonymous and vitriolic racist comments are common in online forums and under news stories.

But discrimination based on race is more pervasive and maybe not that obvious, say academics and members of visible minority groups.

Canada has accepted more immigrants per capita over the past three decades than any other country, with the exception in some years of Australia, according to the Metropolis B.C. Centre of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Diversity.

Half the growth in Canada’s population last century came through immigration, and visible minorities made up 19 per cent of the Canadian population in 2011, according to Statistics Canada.

The percentage of visible minorities is much higher in B.C., at 27 per cent overall.

In Metro Vancouver, it’s 45 per cent, Vancouver city, 51 per cent, in Surrey, 52 per cent and in Richmond it’s 70 per cent.

Immigrants in the Okanagan reported discrimination based on ethnicity when looking for a place to live in a study done by Prof. Carlos Teixeira at UBC Okanagan.

“Everywhere I was going looking for housing they (landlords) were asking me, ‘What country are you from? Do you cook curry?” one single mother told researchers, who found 40 per cent of immigrants to Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon described their search for housing as very or somewhat difficult.

And a Metropolis working paper found immigrants who came to Canada from 1986 to 1991 were paid 30 per cent less than immigrants who came to Canada before 1970. The research also found large earning gaps between visible minorities, born in Canada or not, and whites.

Poverty among children in Canada’s aboriginal communities, at 40 per cent, is more than double the Canadian average of 17 per cent, according to a June report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Related Stories:

A B.C. Metis woman responding to a comment on the Hockey Mom in Canada Facebook page about racial slurs in minor hockey said her son faced racist comments from three teammates and she had racist insults directed at her from two parents.

“My husband (who is white), stood up for us, and we immediately dealt with the individuals and he made them apologize to us,” she wrote.

One researcher found racism where he least expected it.

Prof. Philip Oreopoulos found job applicants with foreign-sounding names were less likely to get an interview than those with “white” names, even when their experience was identical.

“The gist is, what’s going on is subtle racism, a subconscious discrimination,” said Oreopoulos, who did the study when he worked at UBC.

“When you look at a resume, you get an instantaneous reaction.”

He responded to 2,000 online job applications in 20 different fields in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal with 6,000 made-up resumes. All applicants listed a bachelor’s degree and four to six years of relevant experience.

Oreopoulos discovered resumes written by fictitious applicants with non-ethnic sounding names, like John Martin or Jill Wilson, were called for an interview 40 per cent more often than those with identical resumes but ethnic names such as Sana Khan or Lei Li.

The results mirrored the U.S. study he modeled his study after, one that found resumes by applicants with white names fared better than those with typical “black” names.

“I didn’t expect to see the same degree of discrimination as in the U.S.,” he said. “These were firms that stated they were equal-opportunity employers.”

Forty years after former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau introduced the notion of keeping Canada multicultural by funding immigrants to celebrate their backgrounds, two-thirds of respondents to an Angus Reid poll reported they prefer the melting pot model to the mosaic.

SFU professor Ehor Boyanowsky agrees. He says multiculturism works best when it doesn’t promote special rights for any one group and a society becomes homogenous. “You can celebrate differences, but don’t make that the basis of your identity,” he said. “The downside is they become targets.”

“Miscegenation [the blending of races through intermarriage] is the solution to racism.”

Dr. Edward Wong says the lack of Chinese-Canadians in the upper echelons of business, government and education shows B.C. is no egalitarian paradise.

“I think discrimination [in Canada] exists. Absolutely,” said Wong. “It’s just a matter of levels. The glass ceiling exists. It’s just a little higher up than it used to be.”

Wong, the CEO of his own company, Healthcord Cyrogenics Corp., said it’s telling that Canada’s Big Five banks, for instance, employ Chinese tellers but no high-level executives.

The presence of non-whites in entry-level, front-line positions leads to the mistaken belief, including by Asians, that equality exists everywhere in Canada, even though certain races are excluded from higher-up jobs.

“The biggest barrier is understanding that the problem exists,” he said.

slazaruk@theprovince.com

twitter.com/susanlazaruk


Tags: , , , , , , , ,





Featured

Abbotsford's Ravinder Singh Atwal has been identified online as the truck driver who died in a truck crash on Highway 99 near Delta on Wednesday. The Abbotsford father was killed when his dump truck hit the highway median and burst into flames. Submitted photo/Facebook.

Abbotsford trucker killed on Hwy 99 remembered as ‘one of the nicest guys’

GLENDA LUYMES VANCOUVER DESI An Abbotsford father killed in a fiery crash on Highway 99 is being remembered as hard-working and friendly by fellow truck…
Continue Reading »

A man reads the latest issue of French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo bearing a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed at a French bookseller in Abidjan on January 19, 2015. SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images

Mumbai police arrest newspaper editor for reprinting Charlie Hebdo cartoon

VANCOUVER DESI Mumbai police have arrested and since bailed out the editor of an Urdu language newspaper for reprinting a Charlie Hebdo cartoon of the…
Continue Reading »

Indian spectators watch as a float carrying a sign that reads "Congratulations! It's a Baby Girl" passes by during the Indian Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2015. The float represented India's Ministry of Women and Child Development.  An estimated 26 million babies are born anually in India, a country considered to be one of the worst places to be born a girl because of a societal 'gender gap' that favours boys and preferences for male children. ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

Father in India arrested for attempted murder after trying to bury his daughter alive

VANCOUVER DESI A father in India has been arrested for attempted murder after he tried to bury his 10-year-old daughter alive, according to Britain’s Daily…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Abbotsford's Ravinder Singh Atwal has been identified online as the truck driver who died in a truck crash on Highway 99 near Delta on Wednesday. The Abbotsford father was killed when his dump truck hit the highway median and burst into flames. Submitted photo/Facebook.

Abbotsford trucker killed on Hwy 99 remembered as ‘one of the nicest guys’

GLENDA LUYMES VANCOUVER DESI An Abbotsford father killed in a fiery crash on Highway 99 is being remembered as hard-working and friendly by fellow truck…
Continue Reading »

Opposition Muted to Harper’s New Anti Terror Bill

BY Ujjal Dosanjh Special to Vancouver Province I smell an election coming. Not in October 2015; much sooner than that. Harper has just unveiled the…
Continue Reading »

Opposition parties treading carefully on new anti-terror legislation

By Stephanie Levitz THE CANADIAN PRESS OTTAWA — Anti-terrorism legislation introduced by the Conservative government Friday received a cautious reception by the opposition parties who…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Vancouver-BC

Raise your hand, send us a selfie and make a statement against racism (with video)

VANCOUVER DESI Vancouver Desi’s digital anti-racism campaign, Raise Your Hands Against Racism, officially kicked off Thursday, with people across the Lower Mainland sending in selfies…
Continue Reading »

File photo: Curry chicken on rice. Sam Leung/PNG

Spicy treats on menu as 8 chef teams battle for Vancouver’s second-annual Curry Cup

VANCOUVER DESI A group of Lower Mainland chefs are set to go head-to-head with their South Asian cooking skills as they gear up for Vancouver’s…
Continue Reading »

Shah Rukh Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Sonu Sood and Boman Irani in a still from the Bollywood film Happy New Year.

Indian expat avoids stalking conviction by blaming Bollywood for his behaviour

IANS Sydney  – An Indian man’s excuse that Bollywood love stories encouraged him to excessively approach and stalk women helped him avoid conviction in the…
Continue Reading »

File photo: Commuters hang by doors of a crowded local train in Mumbai, India, Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Three men were killed on Monday after they attempted to take a selfie by a moving train near Agra. AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

College students killed while attempting train selfie in India

VANCOUVER DESI Three college friends on their way to India’s Republic Day celebrations were killed by a speeding train after they tried posing for a…
Continue Reading »

Screen shot of Shah Rukh Khan's first video tweet. Submitted.

Shah Rukh Khan sends out India’s first tweet using Twitter’s new mobile video camera

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan was the first-ever Indian to use Twitter’s freshly launched mobile video camera. Twitter announced the new feature on…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Akshay Kumar

Askhay Kumar offers martial arts training to visually impaired girls

PRASHANT SINGH HINDUSTAN TIMES Last year, Akshay Kumar — who was a professional martial arts trainer before he started acting — launched an initiative to…
Continue Reading »

Shah Rukh Khan (L) and Kajol (R) are rumoured to be appearing in the next Rohit Shetty film. Getty Images.

Rohit Shetty tightlipped on SRK, Kajol casting rumours

IANS Mumbai — Bollywood’s blockbuster director Rohit Shetty is remaining tightlipped on rumours he’s managed to rope in a casting coup of Shah Rukh Khan…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood sex

Sonam Kapoor never planned to use her father’s fame to jumpstart her Bollywood career

IANS Mumbai  – It’s always thought that Bollywood’s star children have it easy, but actress Sonam Kapoor says that at the start of her film…
Continue Reading »