Windsor woman says Canada is not as welcoming as it advertises

Ivy Li
By Ivy Li April 21, 2018 18:53

Windsor woman says Canada is not as welcoming as it advertises

Canada is an immigrant country where a large amount of the population is originally from another country. However, are these people equal to native-born Canadians? Do they have the same political advantages? Some in the Chinese community in Windsor don’t think so. Reporter Ivy Li spoke with the leader of a recent protest in the city to hear about the concerns. Here is their conversation.

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Recent tensions started with an 11-year-old Muslim girl in Toronto, who claimed that she was walking to school when she was attacked by a man, who came up from behind and tried to cut her hijab off with a pair of scissors. The national media immediately jumped on the story, including the detail that the attacker was Asian.

It turns out the attack never happened, but some in the Windsor Chinese community are worried that all people will remember is an Asian man committed a terrible crime against a child.

Asian Canadians make up a large group but have played a largely inactive role in the political field. The hijab hoax was like a blasting fuse that triggered simmering anger that has existed for a long period of time in Canada.

It led to a protest in at least two cities: Regina and Windsor. Between the two protests, more than 100 Chinese Canadians were demanding an apology from the federal government, the only way they could think of to right a wrong — or a slight.

Linda Qin is the leader of the Windsor protest. She is 43 years old and originally from the Dongbei region in northeast China (historically referred to as Manchuria).

Christmas time 2017 at Linda Qin’s house in Windsor, Ont. (Photo by Ivy Li)

Windsor’s protest was on a drizzly and foggy afternoon. I was also at the scene at the front door of the Devonshire Mall where around 20 people had gathered. Everyone held a red and black sign in English and shouted out loudly. The enthusiasm of everyone attracted the attention of many passersby.

Later, Qin and I met two times. The first time was in her home. We met around noon and I met her daughter, a 13-year-old, very cute and polite little girl with long hair. Qin made a very delicious lunch for both of us and we chatted a lot. She expressed her deep concerns about the political direction of Canada. Later, she sent a WeChat message saying she would like to invite me to dinner at a buffet and chat with some of her friends. I was glad to get her permission for an interview.

On that day, we were in a Chinese restaurant. She enthusiastically invited me to eat a lot of things. Her friend, husband and son were all there.

“How long you’ve been living here in Canada? Why did you decide to immigrate here a few years ago?” I asked, while sitting to eat.

“I’ve been living here 17 years from now. After I finished my graduate degree in the U.S., I moved here and decided to settle down with my family, because I think the education system here is good for my kids and my husband successfully got a job here, so we took Canada as our second home since then,” she says.

She pauses and then continues to eat.

During the meal, she occasionally calls her 3-year-old son to sit down and not to move, and she keeps feeding him.

Linda Qin’s son dines out with his family, while his mother does an interview. (Photo by Ivy Li)

“What’s your specific job here? What are you up to recently? Could you tell us about your family members?” I ask.

“Currently, I’m working on my PhD. My husband is the only economic source of our family for now, he works as an engineer in a company. I have a son and a daughter, they are three and 14 separately. We basically have a pretty happy family, I enjoy it,” says Qin.

I put down the camera and played with her son for a while. He is really cute.

“Have you always been so enthusiastic about politics?” I ask.

“Not really. I was kind of naive at my early age thinking that politics is far away from me. Because I guess we are a socialist system in China, it is not for the people to participate in politics. But Canada is a democratic system. If we do not speak up, we will lose our interests. We Chinese are also taxpayers. We are qualified, and we should be passionate about participating in politics,” she says.

“But why do you find it’s so necessary to stand out and speak up towards this ‘hijab hoax,’ a politically-related issue?” I ask.

“The ethnic character of the Chinese people is usually scattered, but at a crucial moment we will unite. The strength of a person is small, but the power of a group is very large. Chinese people pay attention to the Taoism of Confucius and Mencius. Tolerance is not a matter of trouble. To us, it is a kind of wisdom in life, but this does not work abroad. If we keep silent, we can’t imagine the living environment of our descendants overseas.”

“Regardless of whether it is for ourselves or the next generation, we have to leave a political wealth for future generations. This is also a spiritual tradition that has continued for more than 5,000 years. We hope our children and grandchildren will be able to live in this land with dignity and justice — not just exist,” she adds.

“Some people would easily take this as a type of hate protest against Muslims. I know it’s actually not the case, is this something you need to clarify about that possible misunderstanding?” I ask her.

She keeps shaking her head.

“I must clarify this point. Our protest is not aimed at Muslims at all. I also have several Muslim friends. We love each other and we are all very friendly. Therefore, there is no question of boycott or discrimination against Muslims.

“We think this is a political premeditated plan. I feel that some politicians deliberately provoked this contradiction between us and Muslims, which is something we can’t accept.”

After dinner, I look for an opportunity to interview her friend, Yuda Chen, who was also part of the protest. I asked his opinion on this matter.

“We all hope that Canada can correctly and (in a) timely (fashion) realize this problem. Ethnic peoples should unite rather than divide. Some politicians are doing such terrible things. We are all part of this country, we all hope that future generations will be able to grow physically and mentally in a peaceful and friendly environment,” he says.

“I’m not very supportive. Although my personal strength is small, this is a good start,” Qin’s husband Xiaodong Huang says, indicating the activism in his home is causing personal problems.

He complains that because his wife been involved in politics recently, she is not doing enough housework.

“Our house is in a mess now, and my daughter and I would cook in turns,” he smiles bitterly.

“Because I’m a negativist, I don’t think it helps. And I need to go to work every day, unlike her, so she is idle every day. It’s mainly because there is no time and energy to do these things,” he continues.

At the end of the conversation I ask if he would like to use five words to describe Qin’s personalities.

“Enthusiastic, rough, kind, careless, assertive,” he smiles.

“And funny,” I add.

At the end of the conversation, Qin said that the Ontario election is coming soon.

“We have established an alliance group among the Asian Canadians and are expanding hopefully. I also hope we can also establish Asian media to safeguard our rights and interests. There are still many things to do. The road is still long.”

Linda Qin is determined to make the voice of Chinese Canadians heard, even if Canadians don’t like the message and even if it means going up against the view of a traditional wife. (Photo by Ivy Li)

For Qin, Canada’s multiculturalism cannot be simply a slogan.

 

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St. Clair College’s international students at the Mediaplex (most of whom do not speak English as a first language) took on the enormous task of researching and writing feature-length stories. For their final projects ─ we call them capstones ─ they explored topics that intrigued them. They all brought unique perspectives to their stories. We hope you enjoy reading their work and seeing Windsor through their eyes.

Ivy Li
By Ivy Li April 21, 2018 18:53

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