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Here and Now

This past week, we launched yet another of our path-breaking columns: this one devoted to Sports, specifically those that are imports to Canada. Brian Wong, who arrived in Calgary from Hong Kong when he was 17, used his own life story to weave a compelling tale about how important sporting activities are for new immigrants, helping them bond with other Canadians. Brian will be spearheading our effort to continue looking for great Sports stories, told through video, audio and text.

Our bestseller, though, was the good-news story of Dennis Mathew, whose early difficulties in Canada were captured by Marina Jiménez in a Globe news article in 2007. (Marina is now our Consulting Editor.) Almost overnight, Mathew’s career took off. This is how he summed up his experience in hindsight: As Nicholas Sparks said in A Walk to Remember, “I now believe, by the way, that miracles can happen.”

Our History/Multimedia Editor Amira Elghawaby spoke for many immigrants when she weighed in on the series of intrusive measures that have been introduced by governments, including Canada’s, in the name of security. In essence, she said, governments cannot get away by simply saying, Trust Us, any more: we should be skeptical of their assurances.

A recent recipient of the Order of British Columbia, Tung Chan, had some tough language for the grammar police who fail to see the larger meaning in ill-constructed sentences written by folks like him. A former CEO of S.U.C.C.E.S.S., a social service agency in B.C., and current chairperson of the Pier 21 Museum in Halifax, Chan cautioned “native English speakers” against feeling culturally superior just because the Queen’s language rolls off their tongues.

 

In other headlines:

 

Ripples

The spate of airline crashes across the world in recent weeks has had its impact on Canada. Five Quebec families are in mourning following the crash of Air Algérie Flight AH5017. Twelve passengers from the flight were en route to Montreal. Of the 12, five were Canadian citizens, six were on the path to immigrating, and one woman was visiting family in Quebec.

And in a rare move for a provincial leader, B.C. Premier Christy Clark has taken a critical position on the Israel – Gaza war. Calling for a ceasefire in the war that has cost more than 1,300 Palestinian and 55 Israeli lives so far, Clark said “Israel has the right to defend itself … against terrorist attacks.” She said this in a letter posted on the website of the Ottawa-based Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs. The chairman of the Canada Palestine Association, Hanna Kawas, was unimpressed, calling its contents “outrageous” and designed to win votes from the Jewish community.

Staying with events in the Middle East and Africa, the RCMP announced they had charged Hasibullah Yusufzai with travelling for the purpose of terrorism, alleging the B.C. resident had joined a terrorist group in Syria. On July 17, Yusufzai became the first Canadian charged under a 2013 law criminalizing travel for the purposes of terrorism. The charge against him was slapped even as an Ontario judge sentenced a man “poised to become a terror tourist” to 10 years in prison – the maximum penalty available. Mohamed Hersi, the Toronto man convicted of the crime, never committed or plotted a specific act of violence. Canada’s intelligence service says 130 Canadians have gone to fight for groups in the Middle East and Africa. Enough to cause more than a few ripples overseas.

Harmony Jazz

A number of good diaspora profiles, starting with For Somalia, “Team Canada” means more money, fewer jobs about the tensions between returning émigrés and long-time residents of the African nation. Equally interesting is the debate within the Vietnamese community over a Private Member’s Bill to commemorate those who suffered following the fall of Saigon, and whether the focus should be on Vietnam or the Canadian welcome to the boat people in Vietnamese government fears Black April Day bill would open up old wounds.

Marina Nemat provides a reality check on why Canadians like queuing so much in Everyone line up: Canada’s tradition of orderly queuing ‘foreign and strange’ to many newcomers. On the complexity of identities and affiliations, Kenan Malik talks about the British experience in How I Passed the English Cricket Test.

The ‘poster child’ for citizenship fraud is the Lebanese Hochaime family’s blatant lying about meeting residency requirements, and the rigour of the government’s investigation, including checking exit-entry records and social media posts in Blatant lying loses family its citizenship — but earns them a $63K bill from Canadian government. Many who have reason to fear being investigated are likely scrubbing their Facebook profiles!

Back Pocket

60% of Canadians say they haven’t had a face-to-face conversation about politics in the past year, according to research by the political think tank, Samara. If you read our recent review of Tragedy in the Commons, you know something about Samara’s work to revitalize Canadian democracy. In their interview with our Books Editor Abby Paige, Samara founders Alison Loat and Michael MacMillan emphasized that political participation isn’t just about voting and so they’ve created a program to recognize Canadians who contribute to our democracy at the grassroots level. An Everyday Political Citizen could be the person who drove you to your polling station on election day. It could be a volunteer, working to make your community a better place to live. It could be an activist who has inspired you. Samara is currently seeking nominations for individuals like these from every federal riding in the country. On their website, you can see who has been nominated from your riding so far and submit a nomination of your own.

High Muck a Muck

If you weren’t in Nelson, B.C. this month (and, chances are, you weren’t), you likely missed the premiere of High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese, a multimedia collaboration between poet Fred Wah, composer Jin Zhang, video artists Bessie Wapp and Thomas Loh, and theatre artist Nicola Harwood. The piece explored the legacy of Chinese immigration to B.C. with oral histories and archival materials, original artwork, and live performance. At Nelson’s Oxygen Art Centre, audience members were invited to “take a gamble and immigrate” by choosing a lottery card that would lead them through an installation of poems, videos, music, and images. Fortunately for the rest of Canada, High Muck a Muck is also an interactive website, through which one can wander choose-your-own-adventure-style through a world that, though dreamlike, is constructed from the very real and true stories of immigrant families and their descendants — stories easily recognizable to anyone who has taken the gamble of immigration themselves. “They swing and turn / gate of to and gate of from / entrance and exit,” writes Wah. High Muck a Muck plays with narrative and time, memory and imagination, and is a breath of fresh air from the internet you deal with at your day job.

Finally, many of us will remember Monia Mazigh, a Canadian of Tunisian descent, best known for fighting tirelessly to free her husband Maher Arar when he was “rendered” to Syria in 2002. Equally importantly, she is a writer, economist, and a human rights advocate. Hope and Despair chronicles her struggle. Mirrors and Mirages is her first work of fiction. Originally published in French in 2011, the novel brings us into the heads of a disparate group of Muslim women, their thoughts and feelings completely believable and authentic. It is as though we are side-by-side with the characters, wherever they go.

 


Poll results: Do you agree with the Vancouver school board's decision to have uni-sex washrooms? 58% voted No, 35% said Yes, and the rest Don’t Know

Please see our new poll: Is Grammar Important to Convey Meaning? (Linked to Chan’s comment on the English language)

With that, have a great weekend and don’t forget to look up the next edition of NCM NewsFeed every Friday morning! If you’d like to subscribe to our to-be-launched e-mail version of this newsletter, please click here.

Publisher’s Note: This NewsFeed was compiled with input from our Newsroom Editors and regular columnist, Andrew Griffith. We welcome your feedback.

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Poll Question

Do you agree with the new immigration levels for 2017?

Yes - 30.8%
No - 46.2%
Don't know - 23.1%
The voting for this poll has ended on: %05 %b %2016 - %21:%Dec

Featured Quote

The honest truth is there is still reluctance around immigration policy... When we want to talk about immigration and we say we want to bring more immigrants in because it's good for the economy, we still get pushback.

-- Canada's economic development minister Navdeep Bains at a Public Policy Forum economic summit

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