New Canadian Media
Tuesday, 14 March 2017 12:06

Whitening Your Resumé to Get the Job

Commentary by Hamlin Grange in Toronto

While working as a television journalist with Canada's public broadcaster, CBC, in Toronto, I produced a documentary series on how new immigrants were settling in Canada. It was part of an effort by the CBC to celebrate Pier 21, the point of entry for up to one million immigrants to Canada from 1928 to 1971. Pier 21 was often called the "Gateway to Canada." Today it is a national historic site and museum.

For the series, TV cameras followed a man and his wife on their journey from Shanghai to Canada, and in their early weeks of settlement in Toronto. They had worked as electrical engineers in power plants in China. Now, like all new immigrants, they were starting over.

We were there when they moved into their one-bedroom apartment above a convenience store. We were there when they went to the local job placement office to search for jobs and to update and print off their resumes. And we there when they bumped up against the stark reality of discrimination.

I knew him by his real name, which was, of course, Chinese. His accented English was quite good because he studied English in China. We talked frequently during those weeks, exchanging phone calls to catch up on his efforts to find a job.

Then one day I got a message that “Andrew” had called. I didn’t recognize the name. Once I called back, I recognized his voice right away. He was the same person I’d been talking to all those weeks, except his new name was Andrew. I asked him why he had changed his name. He said that acquaintances in Toronto’s Chinese community had advised him to change his Chinese name to a “Canadian name” if he wanted to get a job. That’s what Chinese immigrants have to do, he was told. Once he changed his name, his phone began to ring.

I recalled that story as I read a Toronto Star story about a new study by University of Toronto researchers. According to the study, 40 per cent of non-white job seekers are “whitening” their resumes in order to get called for job interviews. Names such as the Chinese “Lei” become “Luke”.

That’s not the only change applicants are making to their resumes in their effort to ‘whiten’ their profiles.

Only 10 per cent of African-Canadians who included experience with African-Canadian organizations were invited to interviews, but that rate jumped to 25.5 per cent when they deleted that experience from their resumes.

I can certainly relate to this. When I was recruited by the CBC in the late 80’s, a manager on the hiring panel asked me if I could be “objective” covering the black community because he noticed I had indicated on my resume that I had volunteered with a few black community organizations.

I told him I could be objective and that because of my involvement in that community I had unique access to a community other reporters did not have. I also pointed out that my resume also included my volunteer work with the YMCA and that I am certain I would be able to objectively cover stories about the Y. I got the job.

Sonia Kang, the lead author of “Whitened Resumes, Race and Self-Representation in the Labour Market” says the findings show that job applicants from racial minority groups are fighting back against discrimination.

In our practice at DiversiPro, we have heard these stories over and over. They are not new. We have been told of immigrants changing their names, their accents and their experience to be more acceptable to other Canadians.

We’ve also heard from immigrants from former British or French colonies in the Caribbean and elsewhere whose European names have disguised their race or ethnicities until they turn up for a job interview – only to find the welcome mat withdrawn.

In the current political climate in the United States, and to a lesser degree even in Canada, many individuals are cautious about how they identify themselves. In a time of "travel bans" and screening for "Canadian values", it's no surprise some new immigrants may decide to minimize their differences in order to be accepted.

The encouraging news is that new immigrants and people from racial minority backgrounds are finding ways to adapt and work around a system that is not often based on merit but how well a hiring manager believes a job candidate will “fit” into the organization.

I have no doubt that such short-sightedness has deprived companies of competent, hardworking individuals who could have contributed to the bottom line.

Hamlin Grange is a Diversity and Inclusion specialist and principal consultant with DiversiPro.

Published in Economy

by Priya Ramanujam in Toronto 

In Canada, Muslim people are often spoken about, rather than the people who are doing the speaking. 

It is one of the reasons the Outburst! Young Muslim Women’s Program is needed, says the program’s advisory committee chair — writer, poet, and arts and equity educator Rania El Mugammar.

The program recently launched Homebound IIII, its latest collection of Muslim women’s poetry, during its fourth annual Volume: Sisters Make Noise showcase held at Daniels Spectrum in Toronto. 

Homebound is a collection of poetry written by six young women who self-identify as Muslim through spiritual, familial, ancestral, cultural or political connections. During six months, the women came together bi-weekly to share “herstories,” explains the book’s preface. 

“This was a sacred place where our worlds came together, and we felt less disjointed, taking parts of each other and making a whole,” it reads. 

The result: 36 pages of powerful tales exploring everything from the immigration experience to young love, carefully crafted in various styles of poetry. 

You can exist

El Mugammar says that in Muslim communities, events are often separated into the “sister side” and the “brother side.” 

The sister side is taking care of children, preparing food for everyone, organizing and cleaning up. It’s not usually invited to participate. Both the book and its launch — an evening of spoken word, poetry, and musical performances by Muslim women — represent something that is lacking. 

“I think it’s critical to just carve out space and say this is just for us . . . this is our space,” explains El Mugammar, who performed at all four editions of Sisters Make Noise and mentored many of the current and past contributors to Homebound

“This was a sacred place where our worlds came together, and we felt less disjointed, taking parts of each other and making a whole.”

Resilience and strength in the face of adversity are common threads found throughout Homebound. In her poem, “choose you,” Urooj (MC Shahzadi) writes: 

Even in this damned society you can exist,

Blessed with experiences filled of heavenly bliss,

Take the hardest moments as a reminder to choose,

The choice towards a destiny only determined by you.

In the book’s preface, Outburst facilitators Jamila-Khanom Allidina, Rosina Kazi, and Shameela Zaman reflect on this verse, writing, “Not only do we exist, we fight, we laugh, we write and centuries of Muslim women’s resilience is celebrated and remembered. Even if it’s just to remind ourselves: we are powerful, breathtaking and brilliant.”

Fighting to claim stories

El Mugammar says she likes to tell stories of the people in her life, primarily Sudanese women. These stories, she says, are missing from the very public, “Google-and-find-it” type of mainstream historical documentation. 

“Our day-to-day lives, they often get lost,” she says. “I don’t want the women that I know helped shape me to be the person that I am today to be forgotten.”

These daily experiences are creatively woven throughout Homebound

In “skype-shype,” Reema Kureishy captures what it’s like to video chat with her grandparents in her native country, India, effectively detailing their minimal understanding of how to work with technology and the endless promises of “coming home” thrown back and forth. 

“I think it’s critical to just carve out space and say this is just for us . . . this is our space,” explains El Mugammar.

In “thoughts in a waiting room,” Seema (who goes only by her first name) offers a story about the agonizing pain of finding out if a parent has cancer.

In the book’s opening piece “jung,” Kureishy writes about the fight “to claim not land, but our stories.” 

As El Mugammar points out, these stories are important for everyone, not just Muslim women, to listen to and read. 

“A lot of people...who may not identify with that identity of being a young, Muslim woman… can identify with a lot of the feelings, a lot of the kinds of stories that we tell.”

I am real… 

El Mugammar says that Outburst allows racialized women like herself to be showcased as more than one-dimensional. 

She explains that while she has often relied on writing to release some of the anger she feels about the social injustices and oppression she experiences, she is more than the “angry, Black woman” people are quick to label her as. 

“I’m also funny and smart and a whole lot of other things,” she says, adding that the Outburst program allows participants to explore the multi-faceted aspects of their personalities, experiences, and community’s stories. 

Resilience and strength in the face of adversity are common threads found throughout Homebound.

Dumo, an Outburst alumni and co-host of the Sisters Make Noise event, exemplifies this multi-faceted experience in her high-energy monologues. One is about her mother interrupting her Dragon Ball Z episodes to cart her off to Qur’an lessons, another about convincing her Muslim parents to allow her to participate in the school Christmas concert.

As another woman of East African descent, El Mugammar says that while watching Dumo, she felt a strong sense of connection. 

“There was a young girl,” she begins, referring to 11-year-old Marley Dias of the United States, “who started a Black girls’ book club because she was tired of reading about ‘white boys and dogs’ and in a lot of ways, I feel the same. It’s always nice to get the kind of humour and the kinds of stories that are absolutely relevant to my life.”  

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to

Published in Books

by Beatrice Paez in Toronto 

July 1, 2016 marks 93 years since the Chinese Immigration Act came into force, which marked the culmination of a decades-long initiative to limit Chinese immigration to Canada.

The Chinese head tax already existed to discourage immigration. By 1903, migrants were required to pay a $500 head tax, equivalent to two years’ worth of wages, to gain entry into Canada.

In the second half of the 19th century, many young Chinese men were sent to Canada with the hopes of earning enough money to support families back home and, eventually, to send for them. Though the head tax stemmed the flow of immigration, almost 100,000 still arrived from 1885 to 1923.

“The 19th century was highly mobile, perhaps as mobile as now. Chinese migrants would work overseas and regularly go back to visit,” says Henry Yu, a history professor at the University of British Columbia.

In order to stop the influx, the government passed the Chinese Immigration Act, which limited entrance to only merchants, scholars, diplomats and Canadian-born Chinese returning after educational pursuits abroad.

It would take 24 years for the Act to be lifted, a period during which only 15 Chinese immigrants were allowed into Canada.

Initial Chinese immigration to Canada

Famine and economic deprivation propelled many in China to leave in search of opportunity, or head to Gold Mountain, as British Columbia’s gold rush came to be known, says John Atkin, co-chair of the Chinese Canadian Historical Society in B.C.

They eked out a meagre living — relative to their white counterparts — working on the railroad, in fishing, forestry, among other industries.

Still, the prospect of steady employment far outweighed concerns about racial discrimination and hostile attitudes toward them. Villages cobbled their resources together to cover the head tax so that one of their own could emigrate, says Atkin.

“A lot of these workers would try to bring their families over,” says Jan Ransk, a researcher at Pier 21.

Growing hostility and the Chinese Immigration Act

With the head tax deemed an ineffective deterrent, Canadians demanded that the federal government end Chinese immigration. The “nativist response” originated in B.C., the front lines of immigration, where many felt their economic livelihood was under threat as they sought employment in the same trades as immigrants, says Ransk.

Their perceptions were largely coloured by “notions of immigrant desirability,” with Asians being deemed inferior, he adds.

“It’s from a period of time that, from our perspective, is so hard to comprehend how normal it was just to discriminate automatically against a whole class of people,” says Atkin.

The Chinese Immigration Act was enforced on July 1, 1923, coinciding with Dominion Day, which commemorated the formation of Canada as a Dominion in 1867. But for Chinese-Canadians, what was marked with parades and fireworks was a stinging reminder of their second-class status, and they called it Humiliation Day.

They abstained from participating or holding celebrations that day, until the act’s repeal in 1947.

Effects on the Chinese-Canadian community

Yu’s maternal grandfather settled in Vancouver in 1923, just before the implementation of the Act.

It was only in 1965 that Yu’s family could be reunited in Vancouver, but even then his mother, as an adult, needed to apply for special consideration.

This sort of exclusion perpetuated what had become a “bachelor society” in the Chinese-Canadian community. Census data from 1911 reveals that there were 2,800 Chinese men for every 100 Chinese women, as reported in Arlene Chen’s book “The Chinese in Toronto from 1878.”

“Exclusion had a devastating effect because for those already here, those generations after generations were cut off,” says Yu. “If you weren’t married already before 1923 and you had no family, it was harder both to create one and to bring family members over.”

The community was also forced to wrestle with the prospect they would be deported. “The immediate effect was that the folks that were here didn’t want to leave  —  they might not be allowed back in,” says Atkin.

What emerged in response were Chinese schools to educate children on their heritage and to prepare them for life in China should they be forced to return.

The repeal of the Immigration Act and the necessity of remembering

Apart from the efforts of community leaders, what ultimately paved the way for the lifting of the Exclusion Act were Chinese immigrants’ wartime contributions. They were one of the largest purchasers of war bonds during the Second World War, notes Atkin. Despite not qualifying as citizens, about 600 Chinese enlisted in the war.

“[Their military service] brought their efforts to the fore,” says Ransk. “The fact that they’re seeing women donate time, selling baked goods, made [Canadians] realize that pre-war notions of exclusion and thinking this community was unpatriotic, was complete nonsense.”

On June 22, 2006, the Harper government issued a formal apology to Chinese-Canadians who had paid the head tax; their survivors or spouses were given $20,000 in compensation.

For Yu, the apology was bittersweet and long overdue. “By 2006, it didn’t do those who actually paid the head tax any good,” he says. “Most of those people had long passed away.”

Suk Yin Ng, a librarian at the Toronto Public Library, immigrated from Hong Kong as a student in the 1970s. She is now leading an effort within the library to collect and establish a physical Chinese-Canadian archive, from 1878 up to today.

Ng will be collecting a range of ephemera, from diaries and old photographs to head tax certificates and grocery bills.

“It’s difficult for them to part with their [family documents],” says Ng. “But they realize that this is the right thing to do before they disappear. I think they’re happy to find a good home, to let people know the contributions of their grandparents.”

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to

Published in History

by Tazeen Inam in Mississauga 

When we study the history of our country, should we examine it critically, use it to inform current policies, or highlight our national successes and values?

The question “Why Study History?” was the subject of a survey conducted by the firm Leger Marketing for the Association for Canadian Studies.

The results reveal that people under 35 saw critical thinking skills as the best rationale for the studying of history. The 55 and over cohort was more likely to endorse the strengthening of identity.

The results also suggest that history educators have placed increasing emphasis on the need to develop critical thinking skills, whereas some governments feel that thickening national identities should be a component of history lessons.

Jenny Carson, an assistant professor at Ryerson University and a social historian, finds this age dichotomy interesting.

“[The younger group encompasses] potentially people who are entering the job market and are focused of how they can use their degrees to enter the job market which is totally fair; it is more than just learning critical thinking – of course,” she comments.

The older group seemed to take a more aspirational approach, seeking to reinforce and discover different identities. “Maybe older Canadians are able to think of it in that way [more] than younger Canadians because they are not thinking about it as a way to enter the labor market,” she suggests. 

The importance of understanding our history

Carson elaborates that while understanding the past doesn’t enable us to predict the future, but it may improve our ability to figure out what to do in our current situation.

“Understanding a woman — how did we go to vote, what was it like 100 years ago when we couldn’t vote — how do those kinds of limitations affect us and how we were able to mobilize to overcome them?”

"Those movements have their roots in past social movements.” 

She continues, “Social movements, civil rights movements — those are relevant and important movements for today. We have the Black Lives Matter [movement] or the movement to end income inequality. Those movements have their roots in past social movements.”

Summarizing her point, Carson states, “History tells us how people have created change.”

Professor of history from the University of Ottawa, Pierre Anctil, agrees with Carson: "A person who is not aware of the past very often will find themselves unable to understand the present.”

Critical thinking as a necessary tool

Anctil says that while history has always been influenced by actors, history requires "complete independence of opinion,” free from the whims of power groups or the actions of a state. 

“This is where we seek critical thinkers,” he says. “If we study the past we have to study on the basis of what we understand of the past, not a proposed narrative that will fit what the present requires.” 

When it comes to rediscovering or refashioning a country’s national identity, Carson emphasizes that we must analyze the actors’ reason for doing so.

She refers specifically to the Harper government’s redesign of the Canadian Museum of Civilization, which in 2012 was granted a $25 million overhaul.

Pierre Anctil says history requires "complete independence of opinion.”

According to Carson, this was an attempt to “create this extremely celebratory history that didn’t pay enough attention to the ways on which Canadian history was about [the] displacement of indigenous people who were here first.”

Carson also describes a shift in the way history is taught in Canadian curriculum. While in the past it largely focused on politics and political actors who were predominantly white men, today the teachings are more diverse.

“That’s really important, that universities can connect themselves to what’s reflected in the history, not just the people who were in power who make decisions,” she states.

Teaching Canadian history today

Steven Schwinghamer, a historian at Pier 21, insists that history is really about a frank and front debate.

“It’s not about certainty. It’s not about finding one story. It’s about an exchange, and in a country like ours where there’s so much opportunity for interesting exchange, history is really valuable tool.” 

In a country as diverse as Canada, Anctil says finding a single story is next to impossible.

“There is not only one narrative to Canadian history; this is a conclusion to which most historians are coming to at present,” he explains.

“It’s not about certainty. It’s not about finding one story. It’s about an exchange."

Moving forward, Carson says that in order to attract more critical thinkers to the study of history, creating personal connections is important. “If you teach it as a story and try to construct a narrative and make it about people, I think that is more relatable.”

For Schwinghamer, “History is fun.”


“Working with history means working with mysteries, with complicated questions,” he continues. “Finding these answers means immersing yourself in an amazing exploration of human past. It’s really satisfying.”


This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to

Published in History

The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 celebrated its official reopening on June 25, 2015 with the unveiling of Canadian Immigration Hall, a new exhibition showcasing the vast contributions of newcomers to Canada’s culture, economy and way of life, from past to present day. The opening of Canadian Immigration Hall, and the recent reopening […]

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Canadian Immigrant

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Published in Arts & Culture

The search for a home for the Wheel of Conscience may be over.

The museum piece, designed to remind spectators that in 1939, Canada turned away the MS St. Louis and its 937 passengers fleeing the Nazis, may be returning to its old home at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 in Halifax.

Bernie Farber, former CEO of Canadian Jewish Congress, said Jan. 27 “the museum is taking it back.”

“It’s going to be given pride of place, recognizing how important this is to Canada.”

The Canadian Jewish News

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Published in National
Friday, 21 November 2014 14:14

NCM NewsFeed: Weekly Newsletter Nov. 21

In this edition: Citizenship conference in Ottawa + violence against women in the spotlight + visible minorities on corporate boards + why we concentrate so much on local news? + much more


NCM NewsFeed


Here and Now

Headlining our coverage this week was a report by Themrise Khan on critical questions relating to citizenship that set the agenda for a conference organized by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation in Ottawa last week.
And, from our friends at the Asian Pacific Post, a former high commissioner to India, Stewart Beck penned a timely piece on his impressions following a recent visit to New Delhi. "Opportunities abound in India and even more so now that there is a newfound optimism and energy," he writes, adding that Canada should pursue openings more aggressively given our headstart with the new government of PM Narendra Modi.
Late in the week came disappointing news that the number of visible minorities represented on corporate boards is falling. While visible minorities make up 19.1% of Canada's population, a study by the Canadian Board Diversity Council reveals that only 2% of board seats are held by visible minorities, a decline from 5.3 per cent in 2010.
In other headlines: 


Violence against Women In the Spotlight

Revelations that former CBC Q host Jian Ghomeshi  allegedly sexually assaulted numerous women came as a shock to many  Canadians, including members of Canada’s Iranian community.

As noted in a Toronto Star piece earlier this month, many Iranian Canadians expressed disappointment that someone who had achieved such public success, could be involved in violence against women.

“He was an icon for so many of us in the Iranian community, particularly those of us who have any interest in media,” said Sima Sahar Zerehi, a journalist, teacher and human rights activist, in the Star piece.

“In a landscape littered with images of Iranian men as being sexist, misogynists, wife beaters, religious fundamentalist goons that throw acid at women’s faces and oppress them with a veil and want to deny them education and legal rights, he was a symbol of a different version of what it meant to be an Iranian man,” Zerehi said.

However, in that same article, Shahrzad Mojab, a professor in women and gender studies at the University of Toronto points out that “his heritage doesn’t mean he is the face of the community.” She says she felt let down more because of the violence against women.

“I don’t have that nationalist sense of belonging. I feel more Canadian when I stand by aboriginal women on issues of violence or racism.”

Government’s New Bill Purportedly Aimed at Protecting Women

The Conservative government introduced a new bill this month that caused ripples in various immigrant communities. The “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act” was both hailed and criticized for its stated purpose of ending polygamy and forced marriages in Canada.  Proponents argue that this bill is required to prevent such practices. Critics say that these issues are already criminalized and this type of bill is only meant to target and stereotype vulnerable individuals.  Many also argue that violence against women is not the sole purview of any one community.

“So, while I agree that all those practices that the bill aims to restrict are undesirable and should be eradicated, calling them Barbaric Acts is to elevate us to the status of the civilized preaching to the uncivilized. And it's simply untrue,” wrote Toula Drimonis, a freelance writer and editor in a piece for the Huffington Post. Drimonis goes on to quote general and alarming statistics around violence against women in Canada.

Drimonis was joined by Aruna Papp, a human rights advocate, and Farrah Khan, a counselor at Outburst!, on Al Jazeera’s social media show, The Stream.   Papp was later invited on CBC’s the Current, to debate the issue with Deepa Mattoo, Staff Lawyer and Acting Executive Director of the South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario. The clinic’s statistics on the issue of forced marriages in Canada were quoted by Minister Chris Alexander in presenting the bill; however, in the interview, Mattoo maintained the data was used in a “botched up way”.

How to Stop Violence Against Women?

Researchers for the Lancet, a prestigious London-based medical journal, have just published a summary of various global efforts to stem and prevent violence against women and girls.

Among the programs highlighted, grassroots interventions in countries like India which have received national and international condemnation regarding several high-profile and deeply disturbing assaults on women and girls. The program there is called Yaari Dosti, and researchers note that it is modelled on a similar program in Brazil. Scientists say the intervention program has been proven to reduce male-perpetrated violence against women and girls by conducting group training and social communication sessions.

The Lancet report highlights programs in various regions. The success stories may prove useful for those dedicated to this important societal issue which ripples across racial, cultural, and socio-economic lines.

Harmony Jazz

The annual pre-Christmas celebrations in Holland, accompanied by the protests against the portrayal of Black Pete given the stereotyping and racism involved in Black Pete centre of Dutch controversy at Saint Nick celebrations – World – CBC News. And a reminder that Racism still an uncomfortable truth in Canada and from the U.S., When Whites Just Don’t Get It, Part 4, discussing the ongoing impact of previous advantage. 
In the aftermath of the killings of two Canadian soldiers, the Government is rethinking counter-terrorism plan, with a particular focus on prevention. 
Good and bad news on the refugee front. The Minister knew Canada wouldn’t meet Syrian refugee commitment, misleading the public, but More refugee claimants get 2nd chance with new appeal process, demonstrating that court proceedings don't necessarily lead to improved outcomes for refugees. 
Ongoing controversy over the fate of the memorial to Jewish refugees refused entry to Canada in Holocaust survivors: ‘Shameful’ that Pier 21 not displaying memorial to victims of ‘voyage of the damned’ and commentary by Bernie Farber and Andrew Griffith on why Holocaust memorial should be returned to its rightful home.
Lastly, Aruna Papp: A welcome new law to help prevent forced marriages outlines why she supports the Government's bill against forced and under-aged marriages and the need for education and training for police and others. 

Back Pocket

It was heartening to read a piece titled, "Why we concentrate so much on local news," in the Jewish Post and News from Winnipeg, because it seemed to fly in the face of academic research that suggests that too much of the focus is on "international" news and events. The publisher Bernie Bellan explains why it makes sense to give his readers more content that relates to their lives in Canada.
It is unfortunate that our media landscape picks its own winners and losers. A new book, Journalism and Political Exclusion (McGill-Queen's University Press) by Prof. Debra M. Clarke, deals with this very issue. While her work does not focus a lot on immigrants, she offered us this comment: "Unfortunately, my research observations confirmed the findings of other researchers that new immigrants to Canada are frequently frustrated by the limited quality and quantity of international news available here, by the limitations of specialty channels targeted at ethnic minorities, and, above all, by their fundamental exclusion from the processes of news production and political communication."
Hopefully, our modest endeavour is correcting some of this exclusion. 

With that, have a great weekend and don’t forget to look up the next edition of NCM NewsFeed every Friday! If you’d like to subscribe to our to-be-launched e-mail version of this newsletter, please click here.

Publisher’s Note: This NewsFeed was compiled with input from our Newsroom Editors and regular columnist, Andrew Griffith. We welcome your feedback.

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Published in Top Stories
Wednesday, 29 October 2014 12:30

New Canadian Immigration Gallery at Pier 21

by Gerry Maffre in Ottawa

The head of the Canadian Museum of Immigration History at Pier 21 in Halifax was visiting Ottawa earlier this month and offered a glimpse into the future of the museum which is currently closed for renovations and will reopen in 2015.

Marie Chapman, the museum’s chief executive officer, delivered her remarks at the Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Immigration Historical Society (CIHS) in the nation’s capital. The society has a long-standing relationship with the museum located at Pier 21 where over one million immigrants, including post World War II ‘war brides’, first entered Canada between 1928 and 1971.

In her speech, Chapman spoke about the importance the museum attaches to gathering the stories of those who have made new lives in Canada and of the immigration staff who, over the years, have helped newcomers come to and settle in Canada.

“Each immigration story that Canadians have entrusted us with is a tremendous source of inspiration and learning. These stories are a reflection of the diversity of the Canadian immigration experience. Our collection is enriched by stories of immigrants from seven continents, who now call communities across Canada home,” she said.

One element of the forthcoming changes will be the Canadian Immigration Story gallery and its four themes: Journey; Arrival; Belonging; and Impact. One of the highlights in the ‘Belonging’ section will be a Canadian flag donated by the society and which was affixed to a hotel door of a Ugandan Asian family while they were being processed for evacuation to Canada in 1972. For that family, the flag was a symbol of safety and hope.

The expanded exhibitions will be complemented by educational and public programming aimed at developing empathy and understanding for the immigrant experience, as well as fostering a sense of Canadian identity. As well, digital technologies will encourage users to share their impressions and memories, and to collaborate via a social learning environment. The aim is to make the museum an inspiring national icon for Canadians. That goes for its website.

 “Each immigration story that Canadians have entrusted us with is a tremendous source of inspiration and learning. These stories are a reflection of the diversity of the Canadian immigration experience."

Michael Molloy, the society’s president, presented Chapman a collection of papers related to discussions that took place in Ottawa about the need for such a museum. For Chapman, the donation was further evidence of the importance the museum attaches to reflecting the role of immigration personnel in Canada’s on-going immigration story.

The society also welcomed Patti Harper, Head of Archives and Collections Services at Carleton University, who spoke about the school’s Uganda Archive to which CIHS was able to make significant contributions including a very large number of press clippings from Canadian and international newspapers about the expulsion of the Ugandan Asians and their move to Canada.

Gerry Maffre is a member of the Canadian Immigration Historical Society executive.

Published in History

by Priya Ramanujam (@SincerelyPriya)

The contributions of immigrants to Canada are endless. Their stories are an integral part of the country’s history. A new exhibition at Halifax’s Canadian Museum of Immigration, set to open in May 2015, will highlight these contributions.

The museum, which is housed at Nova Scotia’s Pier 21, the entry point for more than one million immigrants between 1928 and 1971, will close its doors Oct. 25 for six months as it undergoes major transformations for the better.

“As Canada’s newest (and sixth) national museum, we are now able to continue to highlight the special role Pier 21 has played in shaping our nation, while also sharing the overarching story of immigration to Canada.”

Upon reopening, the museum will feature two permanent exhibitions, one being the brand new Canadian Immigration Story gallery. This exhibition will encourage visitors of all ages to reflect on the immigrant experience, examining connections between past and present realities and thinking critically about how immigration shapes Canada today. It will combine first person stories, oral histories, artifacts and multimedia experiences to illustrate the Canadian immigration journey in an experiential way for visitors.

“As Canada’s newest (and sixth) national museum, we are now able to continue to highlight the special role Pier 21 has played in shaping our nation, while also sharing the overarching story of immigration to Canada,” said Marie Chapman, CEO of the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, in a press statement. It is estimated that one in five Canadians’ family history connects back to Pier 21, where 500,000 Canadian military personnel also departed from during the Second World War. “These are momentous times at the museum and we are so looking forward to once again welcoming visitors through our doors,” Chapman added.

The almost four-year-old organization received approximately $25 million from the federal government for upgrades to happen over a five-year period in addition to approximately $1 million in annual philanthropic support for education and public programming across the country. The renovated museum will boast a space nearly double its current size and a new rental facility for private functions.

This content was developed exclusively for New Canadian Media and can be re-published with appropriate attribution. For syndication rights, please write to



Published in News
Sunday, 27 July 2014 18:15

Grammar over Substance

by Tung Chan in Vancouver

I felt flattered when I received a request from Oxford University Press Canada for permission to include my article “Social disconnect leads to ethnic enclaves” in an upcoming e-book. My ego was deflated when I found out the book, Skill Set with Grammar, was about better usage of English grammar. My article will be included in the section containing samples of articles for readers to practice how to spot and correct improper usage of grammar.

As a matter of fact, feelings of hurt, humiliation and resentment ran through my mind. My initial reaction was to reject the request. Why do I want my article to be held out as an example of poor use of English Grammar? After all, English has been my working language for almost 40 years. Besides, the article was published by a respectable English newspaper whose editor had gone over the article and corrected any mistakes deemed unacceptable. So, if there were any bad choice of grammar, I am not the only person responsible.

I then thought of the so-called Donald Trump theory of publicity: It does not matter if it is good or bad publicity, as long as your name gets mentioned in the media. So with that in mind, I negotiated a very nominal honorarium and gave my permission.

But the real point of all of this, I thought, is how important it is to master correct usage of English grammar. I grew up speaking Chinese. I can read and write in both the classical or contemporary-style Chinese with ease. The difference between the two is almost like Victorian English used by Shakespeare and current-day English used by Margaret Atwood. However, people who are fluent in Chinese in its written form know that the Chinese language has a vastly different grammatical structure than English. The Chinese language does not have tenses. It uses reflective adjectives to describe time. Verbs are not modified according to whether the subject is singular or plural.

Just to make things more complicated, there are many exceptions to the rules in English grammar! So you can imagine how difficult it is for someone like me to try to master English grammar.

Discounting people

But throughout my career, I have seen how native speakers, particularly those who have a degree majoring in English, tend to look down upon or discount the ideas of people who write with improper grammar. To these people, inability to master English grammar is tantamount to weak skills of logic and even low IQ. So instead of trying to understand and appreciate the idea being presented, these folks would just put the paper aside and ignore the ideas no matter how worthy of consideration it may be.

To these people, inability to master English grammar is tantamount to weak skills of logic and even low IQ.

This is a terrible waste of talent and human resources because we live in a multicultural and multilingual environment. There are many people, myself included, who, no matter how hard we try, will have difficulty in achieving perfect use of grammar. You would have likely noticed several grammatical mistakes in this article so far! But to discount what I have to say in this article because of my grammatical mistakes would be to deny the merit of my argument.

Substance over style

There are two ways to remedy the situation. The first is to publish books -- like the ones published by Oxford University Press of Canada -- to help people to master English Grammar. The second, I think, is more important from my personal experience: that is for native English speakers to tone down their cultural superiority. They need to remove from their minds the notion that the ability to write in English correctly is an indication of mental capacity. What matters is the substance and not the expression of an idea.

The second, I think, is more important from my personal experience: that is for native English speakers to tone down their cultural superiority.

At the end of the day, my article still gets noticed and I am glad I will contribute to improving people's grammatical skills. And best of all, I now have bragging rights: having one of my articles published by the Oxford University Press Canada.

Editor's Note: This piece was lightly edited to improve clarity.

Tung Chan is Chairperson of the Board of Trustees at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 and an Honorary Captain of the Royal Canadian Navy. Tung is also a member of the Board of the Vancouver Foundation, the Rick Hansen Institute and the Canadian Foundation Of Economic Education. From 2006 to 2010, Tung was the CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S., a social service agency in British Columbia. He is among this year's recipients of the Order of British Columbia.

Published in Commentary
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