By Muskan Sandhu
Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the conference Stories of Hope: A Celebration of Canada, organized by the Association for Canadian Studies to celebrate Multiculturalism Day, were the diverse speakers who brought unique perspectives to the struggles of their communities in building an equitable Canada. The event effectively linked the “hope” to overcome these difficult times with diversity, in the process illuminating the importance of listening to myriad voices.
But how does one access these voices on days that aren’t set aside to celebrate multiculturalism? On days that do not shine a spotlight on diversity by articulating it in Canada’s official languages?
Michaëlle Jean, former Governor-General of Canada, gave us a hint in her opening remarks at the event when she thanked “those along the chain links of solidarity who persist in making the voices of the most vulnerable and the voices of the most deprived heard, their realities known.” Canadian ethnic media has been playing precisely the role of “those along the chain links of solidarity,” of making lesser-heard voices heard on days that aren’t earmarked for them, and thus this media is where one must look to hear diverse voices every day.
This isn’t to say that mainstream English and French media don’t give these voices space or importance. The perspective of ethnic media, however, differs in that it is often able to present what may be deemed as the ‘insider’s point of view,’ on issues that impact their respective communities, and give community-specific opinions on general matters. The coverage of the recent encounter between a South Asian woman and the wife of Delta Police Chief is a prime example that illustrates the existence and value of this viewpoint.
Kiran Sidhu’s alleged assault
Kiran Sidhu, a South Asian woman from Surrey, filed a complaint with Delta Police against Lorraine Dubord, wife of Delta Police Chief Neil Dubord, who according to Sidhu sprayed her down with a water hose. The alleged incident took place on June 6, when Sidhu was returning from a socially distanced party on Centennial beach and found herself trapped by a high tide as she made her way to her car parked far from the party spot. To circumvent the tides, which a police officer later informed Sidhu were 10-12 feet high, she climbed onto some rocks right next to the Dubord’s beach facing residence. While she made her way across the fence, L. Dubord came out of her house and allegedly started screaming insults at Sidhu, asking her to not touch Dubord's fence and to get off the rocks. Reportedly, L. Dubord went on to spray Sidhu down with a water hose, body-shamed her, and asked her to go back home as she didn’t belong there.
Sidhu’s friends arrived at the scene later and were seen confronting L. Dubord in a video posted by them on Facebook. Sidhu filed a police report with the Delta Police Department the next day, and was informed that the case was closed after a few days. Sidhu then filed a complaint, citing conflict of interest in DPD investigating their boss’s wife, and the case was then transferred to Surrey RCMP. L. Dubord later issued an apology, which according to Sidhu wasn’t a sincere one.
Image Source: Red FM 93.1 Face Book
Media coverage of the incident
The encounter between Sidhu and L. Dubord was covered by various prominent English newspapers from BC such as Vancouver Sun, Global News, CityNews, CTV News, and Delta Optimist. The first instance of coverage by these papers followed a similar pattern that delineated the series of events as narrated by Sidhu. These articles did have subtle differences in emphasis brought out by word choice--for example, Global News did not mention the fact that Sidhu is South Asian, or quote Sidhu’s comments that identify her as a racialized woman. On the other hand, CTV News identified Sidhu as South Asian and Delta Optimist and Vancouver Sun quoted her saying: “I was made to feel so unwelcome in these white spaces, which is something I’m aware of being a racialized woman in these white spaces as a teacher, as an active member of my union and I work on changing that.” Barring such choices, however, the articles remained almost identical in their approach of presenting the incident and the papers did not offer editorials on the matter.
The coverage of the encounter on Harjinder Thind Show, a prominent Punjabi radio show aired from Vancouver on Red FM 93.1, distinguished itself by going a step further and contextualizing the matter in terms of Delta’s community relations and the Delta police department’s role in them. In Thind’s 3.5-hour long daily morning show, the report of the encounter between Sidhu and L. Dubord was given space in both news and commentary segments. In the news segments, broadcast four times at regular intervals during the show, the incident was reported in a manner similar to that of the aforementioned mainstream articles with the exception of L. Dubord being identified as White and Sidhu being identified as Punjabi. In the segment where Thind spoke to Sidhu on call, Sidhu repeated much of what she had stated to different English media houses, both in print and on television.
Where Thind brought the issue to life was in his 6-minute long commentary on the subject. Thind introduced the issue in the context of the ongoing local discussions around racism and went on to paint a historical picture of the relationship of the Delta Police with the people of colour in its jurisdiction. Thind said:
North Delta’s policing has always been of prime quality. Jim Cessford was the Delta police chief for a long time, and, during his tenure, there was a large population of Indians and people of colour in North Delta. Cessford maintained very good relations with them. As the king does, so do his subjects; the behaviour of the police chief starts reflecting throughout the police department to a certain extent. In the last few months, there have been several reports relating to people of colour from Delta. People of colour used to say that they are proud of the Delta Police and Jim Cessford--Delta’s crime rate was very low as compared to Surrey. But recently, there have been instances where the police have been harassing people of colour with one excuse or the other, be it house calls, approaching someone randomly, or using an unworthy choice of words with truckers, such as the instance with Inderjeet Singh that I discussed earlier. Now, such behaviour meted out by the wife of the chief of the same police department, towards a Punjabi lady, is hurtful.
By presenting Sidhu’s encounter within its historical context, Thind transcended the space between the individual and the community. Sidhu’s alleged assault was not simply seen as a rare personal issue, but one that raised questions about community relations and policing in Delta. It drew attention to the fact that this wasn’t an isolated incident and was one that warranted attention to context. Thind also added an emotive layer to his analysis - L. Dubord’s behaviour wasn’t simply wrong, but also hurtful. In this fashion, Thind became the voice of the community in a matter of injustice meted out to an individual.
The role Thind played in reporting Sidhu’s story is one that ethnic media journalists play on a day to day basis. While ethnic media performs the same tasks and functions as mainstream English and French media, it also brings to the fore community perspectives on local, provincial, national, and international subjects, often morphing into a communal voice. If one were to listen closely to the stories ethnic media shares daily, multiculturalism would be an everyday celebration.
Image Source for Stories of Hope: A Celebration of Canada - Association for Canadian Studies website https://acs-aec.ca/en/main/
PRINT - Corriere Canadese - Toronto, 17/06/2020 - COMMENTARY, Italian
Image Source: Corriere Canadese website
Summary Translation: Joe Volpe - In Canada, being “bilingual” means being able to speak one of the two official languages as well as one’s own. Governments engaged in “nation-building” seem reticent to recognize this fact, except when they are in “campaign mode.” The “third-language” group is second only to the Anglophones in number. Given the immigration policies, it is the only one that is growing. The 2016 Census discovered that 23% of the population communicates in a “third” language. Sixty per cent of ethnic language periodicals have ceased publication, a number that could rise to 90% if the COVID-19 crisis continues much longer. The damage culturally and in terms of lost jobs and activities will surely reflect on senior levels of government.
By Muskan Sandhu
As the world undergoes an unprecedented crisis, ethnic media is serving as a lifeline to immigrant communities now more than ever before. At Diversity Empowers Health, a blog series by MIREMS, we hope to make cross-cultural communication on COVID-19 accessible by overcoming language barriers and bringing voices at the margins to the fore.
“Some community agencies see people being cut off from essential information because it isn’t readily available in their language...these are people who will fall through the cracks,” said Avvy Go, the director of a legal clinic, in response to the funding package announced by Health Canada to reach ethnic communities through multilingual awareness advertisements on COVID-19 (1). Andrew Griffith, a former director in the government’s immigration department, echoed the sentiment when he said that a gap of 10 days between consistent daily press briefings by ministers and placing ads in ethnic media “means you’ve probably missed the boat” (2).
While these statements are incisive in recognising the heightened vulnerability of immigrant groups to COVID-19 owing to language barriers, they also risk falling into the trap of infantilizing these communities. For when one performs the imperative task of actually tuning into ethnic media, these claims reveal themselves to be woefully unaware, if not downright false. Ironically, in assuming that the ethnic communities are in the dark about vital information, these statements appear to be in the dark about the role ethnic media is playing in bringing meaningful COVID-19 reportage to its multilingual audiences.
In this time of crisis, ethnic media is executing a range of functions from communicating regular COVID-19 updates to answering a slew of questions by confused citizens. Various radio shows live broadcast the PM’s addresses along with snippets of announcements made by federal and provincial health officers. In a Hindi radio show broadcast from Calgary, an MLA from Alberta appears as a guest on the show almost everyday to give an update on the situation in the province (3). In a similar vein, a popular Punjabi radio show from Vancouver has a Punjabi speaking doctor come in every other day to talk about COVID-19 and clarify any circulating misinformation (4). Television and radio shows have consultants come in to answer queries about rapidly evolving government benefits. This media is also quick to note the gaps in government policies; several ethnic outlets launched a critique on health officials after Dr. Theresa Tam changed her stance on the use of masks. Most importantly perhaps, ethnic media highlights the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on certain communities - the headline of a Chinese editorial read, “how do we explain racial conflict to children amid the public health crisis?”(5).
The central role ethnic media is playing in disseminating invaluable information to its diverse audience should not be undermined. Rather, its relevance and necessity ought to be acknowledged and understood.
To stay in touch with COVID-19 reportage in ethnic media visit our blog series Diversity Empowers Health at http://www.mirems.com/covid-19
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(1) As quoted in Miller, Jason, “Linguistic minorities lack COVID-19 information, say advocates.” https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2020/03/27/linguistic-minorities-lack-covid-19-information-say-advocates.html
(2) As quoted in Mangat, Palak, “Dole out funding for COVID-19 ads soon, say experts, as ethnic media outlets face cash crunch.” https://www.hilltimes.com/2020/04/02/dole-out-funding-for-covid-19-foreign-language-ads-soon-say-experts-as-ethnic-media-outlets-face-cash-crunch/242113
(3) Red FM 106.7, The Evening Show, Calgary
(4) Red FM 93.1, The Harjinder Thind Show, Vancouver
(5) Chinese Readers (Daily5), Vancouver, 06/04/2020
Canadian Ethnic Media Association Sends Open Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau Calling on Governments to Deal Directly with Ethnic Media Regarding Coverage of the Covid 19 Pandemic
(TORONTO. April 9, 2020) In an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the Canadian Ethnic Media Association calls on the country’s Federal and Provincial Governments to reach out directly to all ethnic media, as the most effective means to inform Canada’s diverse communities about the Coronavirus Covid 19 Pandemic.
As the virus sweeps rampantly across Canada, and indeed the whole world, CEMA Chair, Madeline Ziniak, urges all levels of government to recognize the importance of communicating with new, and older, more vulnerable Canadians in their primary languages of comfort.
Ms. Ziniak, speaking in a video presentation on behalf of the Canadian Ethnic Media Association, expresses concern that information has not been received directly from any level of government. “We realize this is a very busy time, but it is necessary for governments to harness ethnic media to address this crisis, and to serve as a conduit to ethno-specific communities”, says Ms. Ziniak.
The video, released today, is entitled, Stand Up For Canada. To view the video, click here, or visit the News Page on the CEMA website: www.canadianethnicmedia.com.
In the video, Ms. Ziniak, in conversation with Dora Konomi of Itoc Media (Agape Greek Radio) describes the fear and confusion, especially among older, more vulnerable Canadians, over the rapid acceleration of the disease, and the measures that must be taken to mitigate its effects. Important concepts such as physical or social distancing, staying at home, and practicing good hand hygiene are best conveyed directly in primary languages of comfort. Navigating the intricate labyrinth of applying for financial assistance can be made less daunting if explained in the mother tongues of the ethno-cultural communities.
Canada’s ethnic communities rely on their language-specific media to keep them informed of developments here and abroad. “Ethnic media is a source of message distribution which provides information to approximately 250 ethnic groups and communities in Canada”, explains Ms. Ziniak. They have quick access to hundreds, if not tens of thousands of community members whose first language is neither English or French.”
While many ethnic journalists have tried to keep abreast of the world situation by turning to mainstream media and translating important updates and details, they can better serve their communities if such critical information is sent directly to them. With their insight into the sensibilities of the cultures they represent, they can build broader awareness among their community members, and generate informed inquiries and responses to government programs.
Ms. Ziniak emphasizes the important role ethnic media continues to play in reaching Canada’s diverse demographics, and states the “Canadian Ethnic Media Association is ready and willing to do its part to assist the flow of information to those who need it. The time is now.”
For further information, please contact:
Canadian Ethnic Media Association
Caribbean: Pardon is not enough
Vaughan’s weekly print newspaper, Share, reports on the controversy:
Several activists have recently discussed how the legalization of marijuana in Canada has affected Caribbean communities both in Canada and in the region and what lies ahead for the community. The discussion took place at Ryerson University in connection with the mixed reactions evoked by the easing of laws governing the use of cannabis in Canada. The recreational use of marijuana was legalized in the country last October, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promising that his government will consider pardoning people convicted in the past of marijuana possession. However, activist Donisha Prendergast is among those who think that a simple pardon is not enough. She and her fellow panelists addressed many people who have suffered in the past when using or possessing cannabis was against the law. They emphasized how mothers and fathers were arrested, imprisoned and separated from their children, negatively impacting families and their mental health. Prendergast said that marijuana, previously criminalized and presented to society as an illegal drug, has been rebranded for people like former police officers, involved in what is now known as the cannabis industry. (21/03/2019)
MIREMS monitors ethnic media sources and provides valuable insight into the dominant opinions of different cultural communities. These stories are collected and cross-culturally translated by MIREMS multilingual consultants from coast-to-coast.
Ontario’s dynamic provincial election has almost come to an end. What began as a big lead for Doug Ford and the Conservatives has splintered into sweeping new support for Andrea Horwath and the NDP, and steep losses—bookended by Kathleen Wynne’s concession of defeat—for the Liberals.
With swift changes in the polls, allegations and denials, bad budgets and no budgets the election campaign has kept voters on their toes and glued to the news.
MIREMS has paid close attention to the multilingual and multicultural media during this time. Editorials, opinion pieces, columns and commentary stories help us understand not only what is being said, but by who, and why. And following the storytellers, not just the stories, can be illuminating.
In the city of Brampton, where 27.8 percent of people speak a language other than English most often at home the ethnic media has been vocal throughout the campaigns. After allegations of PC candidate Simmer Sandhu’s involvement in the 407 ETR data breach Punjabi CAIO 530 AM Morning called Sandhu, who pulled out of the East Brampton race, “a nice and educated guy.” A different tone came from Canadian Punjabi Post which wrote that the incident changed the entire campaign atmosphere in all of Brampton. Continuing to say “Ford’s charisma has faded away in Brampton and the situation has directly benefited the NDP.” An editorial from Canadian Punjabi Post questioned Ford’s decision to nominate Sudeep Verma as Sandhu’s replacement and not Naval Bajaj, who was second in the nomination race asking “whether Doug Ford’s decision to nominate Verma was a political flaw or a gift to the NDP?”
Mark Strong on Caribbean Radio G 98.7 FM Mark & Jem in the Morning called Wynne’s admission of defeat “very selfish.” Mentioning as well how Horwath said Wynne was playing a dangerous game conceding but encouraging people to vote Liberal anyways to create a minority government. The host said Ford says he’s there to work for the people “while the NDP stands for the wrong kind of change.”
A twice-monthly Punjabi source from Toronto, Good News, also weighed in on the election this week. The author, Ebram Magar predicts June 7 will be a historic day for Ontario. “Ontario is living in its worst days since 2003,” says Magar. He says the Liberal party is “weak, has nothing to offer and many failed projects.” Magar continued saying: “Many believe the NDP is an extension of the Liberal party; it is a party that has expensive plans and they plan for more debt, increases to the Carbon Taxes, and teaching sex ed in schools. Their plan is to make this province a sanctuary. The NDP wants to offer anyone crossing the border into Ontario access to all health and social services, even for illegal people. This will not be paid out of Andrea's pocket, but out of our pockets.” The article didn’t support Ford’s conservatives outright, but gave clear criticism towards his opponents.
In contrast, an editorial in Italian Corriere Canadese called the Conservative’s campaign a “trainwreck.” Saying the only reason people have not turned their back on them is the desire for a change in government and the “right-wing media’s emphasis on Liberal and NDP mistakes, while ignoring those of the Tories.”
Mónica Percivale wrote a column for Spanish Correo Canadiense titled: The verb, to vote: How to conjugate it for the June 7 election. She argued that all parties and candidates have their flaws and features, but that the NDP offers excellent options—with Hispanic candidates in two ridings “who will without a doubt bring our needs and concerns to the provincial legislature if they are elected.” She encourages all readers to “vote without fear and with the conviction that exercising our sovereign right to vote can only strengthen us.”
Amid Ford’s plans for a buck-a-beer and scrapping the carbon tax, his plans for cannabis registered on ethnic media’s radar. MIREMS knows multilingual and multicultural communities have often expressed unique opinions about cannabis legalization. And during this campaign, conservative-leaning publications criticised Ford’s stance on cannabis legalization. In Toronto’s Chinese Today Commercial News Ze Hui wrote that Ford’s plan to create a free cannabis market will “lead to further proliferation of the substance in the community.”
An editorial from Manuel da Costa in Toronto’s Portuguese Milenio Stadium gave some scathing and almost humourous remarks after the final leadership debate in Toronto:
“I’m sorry some people want me to stop writing. Sorry, I won’t. “I am really sorry that more people don’t like me, but I’m not sorry about what I’m about to say,” said Wynne. I watched the last leaders’ debate and started liking Kathleen Wynne. The insanity of it all changed my view about the future of this province. Wynne looked proper and professional, hiding the fact that she has harmed this province for the last 5 years. So Sorry! Ford, showing his chest hair because he can’t afford a Deco Label tie attempted to scare the voters about the other parties but is without any substance. And then Horwath, with red lipstick and a blue blouse couldn’t make up her mind about which party she should belong to. Maybe an orange outfit would suffice and she could move in with Justin Trudeau. The three candidates all offered recipes for disasters. Shame on them for not taking the interests of the voters seriously. Sorry!"
Following these editorials, columns and opinion pieces provides MIREMS with a direct line to the opinions of publishers and commentators that are being shared with listeners and readers across the province in their mother tongue or from the mouth of someone who is a part of their community.
Reports about DACA and the TPS are the most talked about immigration topic in Canada's ethnic media from August 30 to September 14.
News reports on irregular migration have swelled in Canada’s ethnic media over the summer, following a trend that began with the inauguration of Donald Trump and fears about his plans for immigrants, undocumented ‘aliens’, and those stuck somewhere in between.
As of January 2017, the US was providing Temporary Protected Status to over 300,000 foreign nationals from a total of 13 countries: El Salvador, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Liberia, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The status is given based on dangerous conditions in the home country, and is extended for six or 18 months at a time by the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of State.
When Haiti’s TPS protection was extended only six months in advance, moving the expiration date to January 22, 2018, fear broke out among Haitians who felt they could not safely return to their home country. Uncertainty over the TPS and rumours circulating in the US that Canada would accept Haitians with open arms, meant Canada saw the highest number of asylum seekers in years—5,712—cross the Canada-United Stated border in August. Canada’s ethnic media was part of the conversation.
Latin Americans look north
Even as news began to spread in Canada that those high numbers were going down, concerns continued to rise around TPS ending for Latin American countries like El Salvador and Honduras. There are 260,000 Salvadorans and 80,000 Hondurans who would be at risk of deportation, and as a result are looking to Canada. Reports from ethnic media in the US touted Canada as a safe haven, and Canadian politicians scrambled once again to shut down rumours. Around the same time, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) in six months.
Since June 15, 2012, DACA has given hundreds of thousands of immigrant teenagers and young adults the chance to live in the US without the constant fear of deportation. It allowed them to get jobs, build careers, get a driver’s licence and settle into life in the US. Also known as DREAMers, after the DREAM Act, which has been working its way through congress since 2001, hoping to allow unauthorized immigrants who grew up in the US to stay legally, and eventually get citizenship. More than 780,000 people have taken advantage of DACA, and are now at risk of losing what they have gained.
Where chaos and confusion drove discussion in the US, people looked north for possible refuge—returning to where they came from for most was out of the question. Canada’s ethnic media was paying attention: During the weeks of August 30 to September 14, concerns that DACA and TPS policies could prompt a massive new wave of immigrants was the most talked about issue in Canada’s ethnic media’s immigration stories.
Trump's policy changes felt in Canada
Concerns coming from ethnic media about DACA and TPS were voiced across all languages and groups. Senator Ratna Omidvar’s call to welcome 30,000 DACA young people was regularly mentioned.
A column in Sing Tao Vancouver responded to Omvidar’s comments saying that at first glance, they are “positive and humane,” but Canada’s immigration and refugee policies should not be formulated only on humanitarian considerations—Canada must take into consideration the associated costs. The writer says that the Trump administration is expected to continue making unfavourable policies for refugees and immigrants, and Canadian politicians shouldn’t always have to clean up their mess.
An article in the Canadian Chinese Express out of Toronto warned that the influx of migrants due to DACA and the TPS cancellation could mean more stress on an already overwhelmed immigration system, and further grow anti-immigration sentiment in the country. Chinese news site 51.ca also warned that this could be bad news for Canadians. Comments on the article included criticism for Trudeau, saying welfare cheques being handed out at the border is a “waste of taxpayer money,” and that “these people are not refugees, they are illegal migrants.”
A column in Chinese Real Estate Weekly mentioned Ontario International Trade Minister, Michael Chan’s comments that Canada has a historical tradition of supporting those in need, but that doesn’t mean it takes in everyone and anyone. The author praised the government for upholding the integrity of the immigration system,
In a column for the online publication Magazine Latino, immigration consultant Vilma Filici urged the government to act quickly to educate and warn Salvadorans and Hondurans in the US of their options, noting that validating illegal border crossings isn’t useful; entering Canada trying to claim refugee status is unlikely to work, as most of them have been in the US 10 to 15 years. Ficili also warned in a column for Toronto Hispano that even a small percentage of the Salvadorans or Hondurans would overwhelm the refugee processing system.
Ming Pao Express and Canada Chinese Express covered the false report in La Prensa from Florida on August 30 which said Canada would meet Honduran TPS holders with open arms—and inferred that these open arms came with no strings attached. Shortly after, Spanish-speaking MP Pablo Rodriguez headed to Los Angeles to meet with community organizations and members of government to denounce the rumours. Spanish newspaper La Opinion from Los Angeles quoted Rodriguez saying “Canada is a country with doors open for immigration, but within a legal and organized process.”
Warnings in writing
Many editorials and articles urged readers to understand that crossing the border does not guarantee a claim for asylum. Stories about outreach and clarification were third most frequent issue during the two weeks period examined. In an editorial in Vancouver’s Contacto Directo the author mentioned the criticism Trudeau has received for opening the doors “too wide,” noting that jobs have not been secured should the influx of migrants come, and that Trudeau’s statement that “to those fleeing persecution, terror and war, Canadians will welcome you regardless of your faith” for many, is a deception. They warn of the legal process that not everyone will pass.
Since September 14, reports have shown that the number of irregular border crossers appears to be dropping. Montreal’s Nawa-i-Pakistan noted that the reassigning of roughly 80 immigration department staff to help with the influx made a difference.
Though numbers are down for now, for many Latin and Central Americans in the US as the end of DACA and the TPS looms, Canada is their best option; conflict and danger persist at home—even if the US decides otherwise. The potential wave of migrants will impact Canadian cities and communities, and the ethnic media in those communities. As uncertainty prevails on the issue of immigration, criticism falls onto Canada, and who is to take responsibility, or action in supporting these neighbours. As the situation develops, Canada’s ethnic media is following closely—especially when speaking about Latin American migrants.
Written by Caora McKenna, Data vizualization by Alex Irwin
By Caora McKenna
Inside the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market on Halifax’s waterfront you’ll find a stack of the Dakai Times newspapers. Printed in Chinese and English, the quarterly newspaper is a tiny nod to the growing immigrant population in the area. On Saturday mornings, the market fills with sounds, scents and accents from all corners of the world. The lone stand of newspapers tells a different story. Local ethnic media - integral to community integration for newcomers - is almost entirely absent from the airwaves and newsstands in the province.
The provincial government is working hard to bring immigrants to Nova Scotia. Nearly 5,500 newcomers arrived in 2016 -- the highest number in the last decade -- and more are expected for 2017. Significant resources are being put into the Atlantic Immigration Pilot and Halifax Partnership to bring immigrants to the province and keep them here. One thing missing for new and old immigrants is information in their mother tongues. Where local media is absent, newcomers are leaning on international sources for news from home in a familiar language.
Filling the gaps:
Halifax is home to the majority of Nova Scotia’s immigrants and the few local ethnic media outlets catering to immigrants are there, too.
Meng Zhao started the Daikai Maritimes Newspaper in 2012. It covers local events, highlights local business owners, and regularly documents its issues in the Nova Scotia Archives. Through a partnership with The Chronicle Herald, 30,000 copies are distributed four times a year as well as 5,000 copies at specific neighbourhoods in Halifax Regional Municipality. Zhao set out to fill a gap in a niche community, and five years later is still the only print source in the province printed in a minority language.
The second most spoken language in Halifax is Arabic, but it wasn’t until the spring of 2016 that Montreal based 1450 AM launched 99.1FM Radio Middle East in the city. The station broadcasts Arabic programs and a selection of Arabic and international music. Account executive for the station Oudai Altabbaa says the minority language audience is on the rise in Halifax, and “somebody needs to tap into it and talk to it.”
Altabbaa knows there is great potential for the economy to grow by capitalizing on this market. But “it’s extremely hard to educate businesses here about the benefit of this because they are not used to it, and as we know Nova Scotia is very traditional,” he says. “So when you tell them it’s an Arabic radio station, they don’t take you seriously.”
Working to highlight the importance of immigrant voices and stories is My Halifax Experience. The quarterly magazine fills news stands in ethnic grocers and community centres, and content is regularly published online. Filled with helpful tips and inspirational stories, in English, it speaks to all immigrants, beyond their mother tongues. The online website has expanded to My East Coast Experience with the same goal in mind.
International magazines and newspapers available from libraries or specialty newsstands are filling in the rest of the gaps. Halifax Public Libraries has an extensive collection of subscriptions in Spanish, German, Arabic, Russian, Hindi, Japanese, Chinese and more. Atlantic News, a specialty store for newspapers and magazines, fills one to four regular subscriptions for Russian newspaper Argumenti & Facti and German sources Der Spiegel and Die Zeit weekly and biweekly.
In 2011, immigrants accounted for 5.3 per cent of the Nova Scotian population. That proportion is expected to rise to between 7.7 and 10.7 per cent in 2036, according to Statistics Canada. Immigrants in Halifax made up 8.2 per cent of the city’s population in 2011. By 2036, that will rise to 15.2 per cent.
“When immigrants are feeling like they are a little bit more connected with opportunities that come up because of radio stations or media speaking their language,” says Altabbaa, “they might decide to stay in Nova Scotia.”
As Nova Scotia welcomes more immigrants and tries to keep them in the province, ethnic media has an opportunity to catch up, then develop and grow.
By Lucas de Oliveira Haag
The shooting at a Quebec City mosque, which killed six people and seriously injured many others, was characterized as a terrorist act by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and it has produced a range of reactions throughout the Canadian Ethnic Media. Condemnation is the one word that unanimously stands out, according to Harjinder Thind at Gaunda Punjab CIRV FM 88.9 (01/02/2017), who stresses that the way in which all Canadians, including those from Quebec, have stood beside Muslim Canadians and supported them is really amazing. Except for a very few, no one has ignored the attack and everyone said that it is against Canadian values and should be strongly condemned, added the Radio Broadcaster.
Marco Luciani Castiglia - Francesca La Marca said Canada's multiculturalism and tolerant society were hit in Quebec just as new walls are being built south of the border (CFMB AM 1280, Italian Morning, 03/02/2017). The actual shooter was Alexandre Bissonnette, a Trump fan with right-wing, pro-Israel ideas and strong opinions on immigration (Chinese Readers, 30/01/2017). The attack has stoked growing fears among Canadian Muslims amid calls for increased security and awareness about the power of hate speech. During a talk show on Red FM 93.1 Punjabi Morning Show, a few callers asked why it is always people from Asian and Muslim countries who fall victim to racism and why they are not considered equal to the mainstream population by some.
Despite Canada’s pride in its national tolerance and welcome for thousands of refugees in recent years, Quebec City’s population apparently does not share the same values. Islamic writer Haroon Siddiqui from The Muslim Times (01/02/2017) believes that Quebec City has developed the dubious reputation of being Canada’s capital of shock jocks, online radio hosts who love to provoke with outrageous talk about women, homosexuals and Muslims. The province drafted legislation last year to ban face-coverings in the public sector in a move criticized as marginalizing Muslim women and potentially inflaming anti-immigrant tensions. According to Montreal Chinese website La Presse Chinoise, Calgary researcher Shirley Steinberg said that people living in homogenous and isolated communities are more susceptible to extreme right-wing ideologies. People also have talked about the difference between Quebec and the rest of Canada. Quebec has outwardly nurtured Islamophobia for at least a decade.
Most of the multilingual segment of the Canadian social media and its audience agree with Trudeau’s belief nailing the issue to terrorism and Islamophobia. According to Indian American Muslim Council spokesperson Musaddique Thange, the two incidents are part of a "pattern of vicious and hateful violence against Muslims" (India Abroad, 10/02/2017). Additionally, a few ethnic media representatives go beyond racism and extremism to express their thoughts on the shooting. Talking to PTC Punjabi, a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mosque Mississauga described the attack as a crime against humanity and said that no religion teaches us hatred (TV - PTC North America, 01/02/2017). Jorge Correia from a Voz de Portugal goes deeper, stressing that intolerance and fear remain to be discussed and there is talk of radicalization, but it is a bit misplaced because violence is just violence. It is a folly that strikes anyone, Correia concludes. According to the pastor of Brampton’s Heart Lake Baptist Church, Dr. Terry Atkinson, it is time to come out, show unity, and support, and respect one another (South Asian Focus, 06/02/2017).
In contrast with the whole awareness around the event in Quebec City, it’s still possible to hear the voice of intolerance echoing within the social media, as seen in a comment from a 51.ca (05/02/2017) reader stressing that Chinese people just don’t want Canada to keep accepting Muslim refugees with a disregard for national security. Muslims cannot live in peace with any other civilization (Chinese Readers, 30/01/2017). One anonymous commenter says that Canada needs to experience more terrorist attacks in order for 'Potato' (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau) to step down (BCbay.com, Chinese, 30/01/2017).
By Silke Reichrath
Like the mainstream, the ethnic media in Canada follow news of the US presidential election campaign closely. Canadians have overall good reason to be concerned about political developments ‘down South:’ The US is by far Canada’s largest trading partner, our most powerful military ally and our only neighbour we can reach by land. Ecosystems and environmental concerns are entwined; each car crosses the border multiple times while being manufactured; and our regulatory systems need close alignment.
The ethnic communities in Canada have further reason to be engaged, as diasporas for most ethnic groups span the US – Canadian border. Individuals move back and forth and most newcomers to Canada have relatives or friends in the US.