A clip from the the doc God Grew Tired of Us—about a group of Lost Boys from Sudan who relocate to the United States— was sent to me yesterday through a BC Teachers’ Federation social justice listserv (not actually this clip from above, since I couldn’t get it to embed, but there are similar themes in both). I was struck while watching it by some of the similarities I see with the immigrant population of Vancouver. I don’t think we have a large Sudanese diaspora in Vancouver, but a large percentage of this city’s population are immigrants, and there’s undeniably some unease about this amongst some of the “native” Canadians.
I’m not saying I’m a Stephen-Colbert-like saint who doesn’t see race or has never thought another custom was weird. But when I hear others griping about people who “refuse” to learn English, or eat pig uterus, or refuse to uncover their hair in public, I think it’s important we look at ourselves and our own culture: we eat fried sliced potatoes from bags; can’t function without access to electricity, indoor plumbing, cell phones, or internet; fear strangers enough to ignore people who smile or say hello to us on the street. These customs aren’t unique to us, but there are certainly people coming to live in Vancouver that just don’t get them or us, like we don’t get them. Something to ponder the next time you make a mass generalization (as we all do) about another culture/race/ethnicity in Canada.