In honour of Canada Day, July 1, 2006.
This past weekend, The Toronto Star published a number of articles with a special focus on the large number of new immigrants to Toronto.
In one article, reporters went around asking immigrants about the prejudice they'd experienced in Canada. Most claimed to have experienced some prejudice and this made me think of my friend.
I have a long-time, good friend who was born and raised in India. He knows my family well and I know his. And, in many ways, the people are very much alike even though they are from completely different parts of the world.
My friend has lived here a long time and he's worked hard and prospered and, yet, he's sure that Toronto is drenched in racism.
Last year, when cigarette thieves broke into his store during the night, he was sure that the police were blase about it because he is a member of a visible minority.
And, again, last year, when Toronto was subject to a wave of shootings, largely as the result of gang-wars, he claimed that the Toronto Star (a pro-immigrant, liberal paper) only published pictures of killers when they weren't white.
According to him, there was an equal number of white shooters but their pictures were suppressed.
Recently, he applied to be on the board of a local community organization. At first, it seemed as if he was not going to "get the offer". His explanation: as soon as he visited the office for the interview, he knew that he wouldn't be accepted because everyone was very "WASPy".
Of course, he was accepted and everyone in the organization seems very nice but there have been no words of remorse or a retraction of his accusation.
A couple of years ago, my friend invited me to dinner to meet a guy he knew professionally who had also come from India but more recently. My friend admired him greatly and I was impressed, as well.
After dinner, in front of my friend, I asked this fellow if he had experienced any racism since he came to Canada. No, none at all.
And, you know what? I don't think my friend has either.
Of course, that doesn't mean bigotry doesn't exist. Only that, in Toronto today, hearsay evidence and popular opinion aren't trustworthy in any specific cases.