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

India's Supreme Court stays death penalty of man convicted in rape-murder of four-year-old. PNG Archive

Former Abbotsford Hindu priest jailed on sex charges denied parole

Karam Vir is serving a 21/2-year sentence JENNIFER SALTMAN VANCOUVER DESI A former Hindu priest from Abbotsford who was convicted of sex crimes involving two…
Continue Reading »

India pachydermal love story

Indian elephant heartbroken after partner’s death

VANCOUVER DESI An elephant in India has been diagnosed with a broken heart after its partner died on Tuesday, according to the Hindustan Times. The…
Continue Reading »

Police tape

Woman found dead in Abbotsford park identified as Mission resident

JENNIFER SALTMAN VANCOUVER DESI Abbotsford police have identified a woman found dead in Mill Lake Park on Wednesday morning as a 36-year-old Mission resident. The…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

India's Supreme Court stays death penalty of man convicted in rape-murder of four-year-old. PNG Archive

Former Abbotsford Hindu priest jailed on sex charges denied parole

Karam Vir is serving a 21/2-year sentence JENNIFER SALTMAN VANCOUVER DESI A former Hindu priest from Abbotsford who was convicted of sex crimes involving two…
Continue Reading »

Police tape

Woman found dead in Abbotsford park identified as Mission resident

JENNIFER SALTMAN VANCOUVER DESI Abbotsford police have identified a woman found dead in Mill Lake Park on Wednesday morning as a 36-year-old Mission resident. The…
Continue Reading »

medical distress

RCMP seek public’s help to identify woman found in medical distress in Burnaby

VANCOUVER DESI The Burnaby RCMP are seeking public’s help in identifying an unknown woman who was found “in medical distress” on Wednesday. Police said she…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

India-rape-protest

Minor allegedly raped by temple priest in southern India

HINDUSTAN TIMES An 11-year-old girl was allegedly raped by a temple priest in Bangalore on Tuesday, less than a month after a seven-year-old was raped…
Continue Reading »

10448541_801823293184201_5325323972611294529_desi

Miss Diva 2014 gears up for auditions

IANS New Delhi – Miss Diva, that was launched last year as an official franchise from India for Miss Universe, is set to start auditions…
Continue Reading »

Scene from Airtel's latest commercial. YouTube/Screengrab.

Indian telecom company’s not so progressive ad featuring a “boss wife” causes Twitter reaction

IANS New Delhi  – Is a woman who calls the shots in the office then goes home to cook for her husband – who’s also…
Continue Reading »

child death

Toddler falls into pot of boiling syrup, dies

  IANS New Delhi – A three-year-old boy died after he fell into a pot of boiling sugar syrup, police said here Wednesday. The child,…
Continue Reading »

Merritt music festival

Headdresses banned from Merritt music festival out of respect to First Nations

LARISSA CAHUTE VANCOUVER DESI An electronic music festival this B.C. Day long weekend in Merritt has banned native headdresses from its campgrounds. “Bass Coast Festival…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

SALMAN KHAN

Kick: Salman Khan, Sajid Nadiadwala kick up a storm

SUBHASH K. JHA IANS  Film: “Kick”; Cast: Salman Khan, Randeep Hooda, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Jacqueline Fernandez; Director: Sajid Nadiadwala; Rating: **** “Kick toh banta hai,…
Continue Reading »

Anish_Paris_2_small

Indian author pens sequel to Jeffrey Archer’s ‘First Among Equals’ for Bollywood film

SUBHASH K. JHA IANS  Mumbai – In what must qualify as a first in the field of literary adaptations, author-columnist Anish Trivedi has written a…
Continue Reading »

Shah Rukh Khan

Shah Rukh Khan joins hands with Indian TV channel to host Indian version of “Got Talent”

IANS Mumbai – Superstar Shah Rukh Khan has joined hands with Hindi general entertainment channel Colors for his return to the small screen. He will…
Continue Reading »