"Cities with large Chinese Canadian populations"

The idea came up when I was looking for statistics of how big Canadian cities were (I was thinking, well, except the cities currently with NHL teams, what other cities could sustain one, just based on population), and the wikipedia search for "Canadian cities" returns anything *but* the list of largest Canadian cities - rather a list of cities with the largest Chinese Canadian populations (of all things). Montreal scores a lowish 50,000 - I guess that you have to blame it on French, b/c most of the ethnic Chinese immigrants who speak a foreign language happen to speak English (if you're from HK or Taiwan or Singapore), even if that hasn't stopped anyone speaking anything but their mother tongue from immigrating to anywhere. *But*, it's common sense that places where a community has already been established will draw more fresh immigrants from that community. For instance, my dad is a Madagascar Chinese (my mom's a one-generation Vietnam Chinese), and while he came in the 70s, I noticed how starting in the 90s, we suddenly had many more (and larger) weddings to attend.

But there are still not a lot of Chinese people in Montreal. (Once in a while, you like being in Hong Kong, or the suburbs of Toronto, b/c it's a weird feeling to not be 'the Asian guy' but rather 'just another guy'. Not as if I don't get strange looks in China, let alone HK. ;D For more ongoing identity crisis, read on.)

So yeah, that said, I already knew that Montreal does not roam with Chinese... And I went to check the census data, and why, b/c I am preoccupied with the disparity in Asian/White men/women ratio of interracial marriage disparity, I tried looking for more specific census data than the usual "2.5:1" that is quoted to be the case in the states. Eventually, I landed on this (to tell the truth, not my first Internet foray on topic).

Of course, I make more sense than blaming the statistics for the lack of dates, as ridiculed by this video that went around. We had quite a long discussion over my usual mailing list (a computer-related student group with somewhat larger-than-in-general-pop proportion of Asians) a few weeks ago - which started from posting this video, and stopped when we ended up discussing the idea of being Canadian and still belonging to the ethnic group you came from.

I am somewhat zen with my ideas on culture, maybe naive would be the word. It seems to me that there is no other choice but to adopt the culture of the place where you live in - as an osmotic thing. "Canadian culture" takes from West European culture, which in turn derives from Greco-Roman culture, etc, and *that* is the dominant culture, like it or not.

I wonder how Canadian culture (old of perhaps two centuries, depending on where you decide to put its startpoint) is going to diversify in the future. Maybe that I like certain elements of it, maybe it's that I like many elements of all the immigrant cultures (after all, food-wise, I don't like to sequester myself in neither Chinese or West European and American cuisine). If I am pessimistic, I would say that Judeo-Christian culture is just going to eat everything else up. If I am optimistic, I would say that people will not marry interracially, and some sort of multiculturalism can be preserved for a few hundred years down the road... and the taboo is exactly *that* - populations have always mixed, so what is right, and what is wrong - what should I cheer for?.

Well, at the end of today, I will keep the feeling that there's nothing you can do about what determines *you*. The bloody thing to get out of this exercise is that while it has 'bad' sides to it, there are also 'good' sides to it.

I guess that the most important thing is to be able to validate one's ideas, one's feelings about "things". Sur ce, je vais me gaver de pain pita à l'hummus. XD

Man, every time I try to simplify to common denominators, I always lose sight of where I am, and always end up slipping on wet mud. :/



gg said:

Great post.

The way immigrant "communties" develop, it's a sort of hyperbolic, exponential curve, I think - like you said, the more there are in any given city, the more that'll come, and the more that'll intramarry. For most of Canada's immigration history, it's been like that.

One of the changes lately though, as you allude to, is the intramarriage - nowadays there's more intermarrying than people staying within their "communities". I think it's great - a measure of integration, of welcoming into the "majority".

Identity - nice choice of words, "osmosis". I sense that you hope for something "unique" - something that's different, part of the mosaic but an identifiable, individual tile all the same.

I wouldn't say that a sense of national/ethnic culture is irrelevant, but I do think that there's more that shapes our behaviour and interactions with people. Personality, politics, beliefs, etc.

Yes, "culture" shapes all that, but it all comes down to choices - and I think that's the tangible difference with all the immigration and openness we have nowadays: fewer and fewer choices are seen as taboo or unacceptable (or illegal).

(I admit, my own views might be biased by "culture": traditionally, Filipinos tend to immigrate and assimilate more into the "majority" than other groups. In part b/c of language (already speaking English - well, maybe QC is an exception), in part b/c of an understood inferiority complex that probably goes back to the country being run by white ppl for ~400 years.

I love my family, and my family's Filipino cooking, and I used to help out with the Filipino cultural events/dances... but here I am now, commissioned in Her Majesty's Canadian Navy - what could be more conformist than that?)

gg said:

Oh, another thing about intra/intermarriage: my observation is that the last generation of immigrants was the last to actively intramarry (eg my parents: Dad came from Philippines, Mum via the UK, met in Canada through "the community).

But our generation, not at all: of all my generational peers, only 2 are with fellow Pinoys. And one of those is in the middle of breaking up - restraining order and everything!

smurfmatic said:

I do somehow think that inter/intramarriage has a sort of taboo stamp on it (see, I can't even talk without using euphemistic operators...). It's a bit difficult for me to say that I 'fear' intermarriage b/c it would have the effect to attenuate my (let's say, in biological terms) population's genetic weight, just because *what* do I belong to? I strongly feel for my country of birth - Canada - but I also feel strongly for the country of my ancestors.

There was some data released recently in the HK Press saying that people there tend to marry less interracially - and I think it isn't a coincidence with China's rise on the international scene.

I am looking for absolute answers that I am not going to find anyways... But you are right to say that it all ends up in the personal choices we all make.

Perhaps a point of questioning I have is in the defaultness of West European culture in "Canadian culture". Are the newlywed intermarried couples going to adopt their parents' culture - or that of the Canadian majority?

smurfmatic said:

To actually complicate matters: what are my ancestors? HK people, Cantonese people, Chinese people, Asian people, or Eurasian people? o_O ...

Leave a comment

Type the characters you see in the picture above.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Cedric published on April 5, 2006 1:18 AM.

omg, lol, playoffs! was the previous entry in this blog.

lol, omg, Canadian-Chinese ponies! is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.