Accommodements raisonnables (the website) and the Chinese community

Well well, it appears that the Commission de consultation sur les pratiques d'accommodements reliées aux différences culturelles (Consultation commission on accommodation practices related to cultural differences) has a website:

The co-presidents had a very moderate, if not appeasing, point of view during this morning's press briefing (In French), in my opinion, and is worth listening if you are interested in this universal problem with a specific manifestation here in Quebec, a French-speaking islet in a English-speaking sea that is Canada (and the US). This topic touches me particularly, even if I don't necessarily need to face its consequences directly on a daily basis, because I am French/English bilingual (with a preference for French), and originate from the Chinese community.

It's an interesting topic, but I don't think that my cultural/ethnic community is really engaged in the dialogue, perhaps because, from my perspective of things, we are a relatively quiet group of people, with fewer clashing values. From the pre-round table discussions that we had, there was a lot of talk about whether we wanted to be a united voice for the Chinese community (it was too much work, for no immediate need). This RCI report (first hour) summarizes the subject relatively well. If we want a community, then it is a free choice that we are to make, and by getting involved with organizations like Chinese Family Service, I think that you are implicitly recognizing the existence of such "Chinese community".

However, the people defined as Overseas Chinese, or 華橋 (hua qiao), which is derived from 華人 (hua ren, a concept for "Chinese People", more in a racial/ethnic sense, than national, and widely used in China and overseas communities alike), might not have emigrated out of China at the same time, and increasingly come from more diverse regions of China (as different as Sweden and Spain if you take Europe as a comparison metric) with the opening of Mainland China. Historically, immigrants have come from coastal provinces, especially Guangdong, home to 80-something million people (my ancestral village is in GD), and whose language is spoken in neighboring Hong Kong, and disproportionately dominant in overseas communities. This is no longer the case, as the bulk of the "Chinese" population is not in Greater Asia, or in Hong Kong/Taiwan, but obviously on the Mainland.

Things are changing, and I personally feel the urge to learn Mandarin (the lingua franca of China, a country where the written language is practically the same everywhere, but pronounced differently, mutually unintelligible depending on the region/province) in order to keep up. Throw in the idea that China is in fact a multicultural (rather than exclusively Han) country, and you are starting to understand why the idea of a common voice for the Chinese community is a messy affair. Just ask Asian-looking folks on the street in Montreal Chinatown where they come from, who they identify with, and you will get a handful (perhaps the topic of a discussion that this community should have with itself).

But talking about it can only be a good thing, as to paraphrase the commissioners' premise to a discussion.


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This page contains a single entry by Cedric published on August 14, 2007 10:11 PM.

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