O Canada! My Home and Messed Up Land


Written by:  Evelina Silveira, President, Diversity at Work

I am having trouble recognizing my birthplace and the country to which my family decided to immigrate. Canada, a fractured massive mess embroiled in identity politics and devoid of logic and forecast.

We call people bigots for wanting to preserve Canadian values. Why? Canadian values, for the most part, have kept this country lawful and peaceful.  Do people immigrate to Canada for Chinese or Saudi Arabian values?  No!  They come because Canada is a safe homeland for all. Well, even that is debatable.  Especially, if you are an Indigenous youth or woman.

Many immigrants and former refugees I have spoken to feel the same way.  Some are even thinking of moving back to their country of origin because they no longer like what they see. Freeing communist Poland as a refugee, my husband, for instance, feels the growing loss of freedoms is becoming strikingly similar to what he left behind.

Here are ten  Canadian diversity issues which have left me wondering:  What kind of country am I living? (They are not in any particular order)

1.  A terrorist still gets to keep their citizenship because our Prime Minister says that:  ” a Canadian citizen is always a citizen”.

2. The Canadian government is going to spend millions of dollars to celebrate Canada’s 150 years of colonizing Indigenous People.  I honestly would rather them skimp on the celebrations and provide Indigenous People with clean water and mold-free schools and decent housing.  I am surprised no one thought of that.

3. Violent protests are erupting at universities and other locations conservative speakers have been booked. A diversity of opinion is not considered a strength.

4. Christian bashing has become normalized even though this is the faith of over 50% of Canadians. Check out this highly offensive article poking fun at the holiest day of the Christian liturgical calendar.  https://www.thebeaverton.com/2017/04/christ-sees-shadow-predicts-6-weeks-easter/

5. Canadian Black Lives  Matter leader Yusra Khogali declares white people to be “sub-human”  and tweets to Allah to stop her from killing them. Surprisingly,  Khogali, is celebrated and asked to speak at anti-racism conferences? As much as Trudeau, is not my guy, Khogali is way off-base when she calls him a white-supremacist.  The BLM Canada movement will lose its credibility if it takes this hateful approach and tries to hijack the Toronto Pride Parade and cause division between the police and Pride.  Pride is supposed to be a fun time to celebrate the rights and freedoms of the LGBT community no matter your skin colour!

6. The  Ontario NDP government wants to support a Boycott Divest and Sanction Israel policy. Why?  Does anyone know why there is an armed checkpoint to get to the Israeli side?  It is because  Palestinian’s were bringing bombs over and then Israelis became maimed or died.  Since the checkpoints are in place, they have been able to prevent deaths this way.  Even if you are anti-Jewish, answer this question:  Is it a government’s prerogative to ensure the safety and protection of its citizens?  The answer is Yes!  So before you, BDS followers bash Israel, ask yourself if you would want the government to do what it could from stopping your friends and family from getting hurt. This is the same country which takes wounded Syrians into their hospitals regardless of their faith or ethnicity.  Get informed before you make these decisions.  The only reason why the NDP conjures up maniacal ideas like this one is so that they can capitalize on the political correctness of antisemitism thus broadening their voter demographics.  Why doesn’t  the NDP take this stand with Saudi Arabia?

7. The fact that our Ontario Sex Education program had input from a convicted pedophile, Ben Levin, speaks volumes. https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/child-sex-offender-ben-levin-said-himself-that-he-was-in-charge-of-crafting    Concerns raised about how the curriculum groomed young children for sex is now coming to light. If you have ever talked to kids who have gone through this sex education program, they will tell you that it has only made them more confused about their sexuality.  One ten-year-old girl once disclosed to me that she must be “asexual” because she was not interested in having a relationship with a boy or a girl.  A 10-year old girl!

8. New Age Feminism has taken a dangerous tone.  Our Prime Minister does not condemn barbaric practices against women and girls nor the lack of rights of women in Saudi Arabia and others.  Our new  Minister of the Status of Women, Maryam Monsef has indicated that she is interested in sharia law and she does not see aborting female babies as gender-based violence.  Honestly?  Deciding to end a pregnancy because the sex of the baby is the grossest act of violence against girls. Is Monsef an actual advocate of women and girls?

Our so-called feminist Prime Minister, Trudeau also uses women in parliament to avoid responding during Question Period.  Instead, he defers to the House Leader Bardish Chagger to address Progressive Conservative, Michelle Rempel’s   questions. It is a painful, humiliating scene to watch for those of us who are sincerely concerned about women’s rights.  Not only is it a woman who is made to do Trudeau’s dirty work but a woman of colour –which makes it doubly-abusive: a prime example of Trudeau’s disrespect for women and his arrogance.  Check out this video  http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2017/03/22/rempel-bardish-chagger-question-period_n_15547002.html

9. Our media is covering up stories about violent crimes committed by Syrian refugees which puts us in danger—especially women and girls.  Even if you don’t like Rebel Media or Ezra Levant for that matter, get passed your bias and watch the clip below. It’s not as sensational as you may expect, especially when Faith Goldy obtains hard evidence a result of Freedom to Access of Information. Are we going to still deny there is a problem?  It is frightening, and clearly, the government had no plan for these refugees when they came here.  These are not isolated incidents as you will see that Goldy has reported from across school boards in Canada.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiD5cDCT_3g    This is another example of how refugees and immigrants are not given adequate information about expected behaviours – especially in the classroom.

10. Motion- 103 regarding Islamaphobia crafted by a Pakistani immigrant, Liberal  MP,  Iqra Khalid leaves me and my friends from former communist countries wondering – what is happening in Canada?  How does someone who immigrated from a country which has blasphemy laws and led the York University Muslim Student Association (which distributed pamphlets on how to beat your wife); has any right to curtail criticism of Islam like this?

Shockingly, there appears to be a double-standard when it comes to protecting Canadians from religious hatred. Recently, there have been two clear cases of imams calling for the genocide of Jews and spewing hate. Most people haven’t even heard about them. Check these videos out for yourself  Montreal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FRuTP-ao9U , and  Toronto http://en.cijnews.com/?p=208986  no one bats an eye.

And contrary to our neighbours in the south who challenge antisemitism, cowardly Canadian diversity and equity consultants remain mute; confirming it is on the rise when those whose role is to confront hate and bias feel justified in keeping silent.  Being a bystander and a diversity/ equity consultant/practitioner is not only a contradiction but lacks integrity.  If you don’t feel like challenging these kinds of issues — you are in the wrong field.  How can you train others about anti-bias when you are not prepared to confront it yourself? Let’s not forget all of those who remained silent before and during World War II and all the other bystanders throughout history who collectively could have saved generations.

O Canada!  I haven’t given up on you yet but you must act quick so we remain “glorious and free”.

 

 

What the Brits’ Telly Can Teach Us About Diversity Dialogues


tv

Evelina Silveira,  President, Diversity at Work

When you think about British television, what comes to mind?  Well, if you are not British most of us would probably say Coronation Street  because it has been around forever on Canadian televisions. But there is so much more to discover!  Deciding to join the cable cutting crowd, I have opted for YouTube instead, for my nightly viewing. And British TV is it!

I have been so impressed with the wide range of British television programs devoted to social experiments in the form of reality TV.  To their credit, it appears the Brits are sincerely trying to understand “the other” through their programs of cultural exchanges of various sorts.  They’re not your regular run-of-the-mill low budget reality programs but thoughtful, out-of-the-box productions that are not afraid to ask the tough questions.

Why do I find the programs to be so remarkable?  Because the participants in the social experiments get a chance to “walk in the other person’s shoes” and freely ask questions without being afraid of a label of “homophobe”, “racist”, “islamaphone” “xenophobe” etc.  You get to see the good, the bad and the ugly.  Nothing is held back and I like that.  At least, when everyone has their preconceptions on the table you have something to work with instead being terminally superficial and polite.

What I began to notice in British television was delightfully refreshing.  The Brits actually engage others in a conversation about diversity.   I don’t see that happening in Canadian television.  All  we ever see is one side of a story and you either accept it or you don’t.  There is rarely an opportunity for two groups to come together and learn about one another and gain sensitivity, empathy and insight into the other group’s world.  The Brits seem to love programs devoted to “social experiments” and I have to tell you as a lover of sociology and anthropology — these types of programs score high for me.

It must have been a television genius who came up with the subject matter.  I have watched at least one  episode with the following themes:

  • A small group of Brits who have to live like a Muslim for a designated period of time.
  • Six men from a variety of backgrounds and lifestyles who go to live in a Benedictine monastery and must follow their rules
  • Nasty British teenagers who are sent to live with an American Amish family to help them reform their ways
  • Bad behaving British teenagers who are sent to live with another family in a foreign country which is known to be “very strict”
  • Several English citizens who feel they have been negatively impacted by immigration are matched with immigrants to challenge some of their assumptions

What so good about these experiments? What do participants often learn from the experience?

  • There is greater understanding that can come from honest and often challenging conversations. You might either become stronger in your conviction or  more empathetic to the other’s experience.
  • There is value and meaning in learning about other people’s rituals even if they seem far off.
  • We can be enriched by others’ experiences and might find adopting aspects of their lives to our own.
  • Having your assumptions challenged is not a bad thing and it contributes to your own personal growth.  You can also help others grow by letting them express their biases/stereotypes and prejudices and work with them.
  • You can’t live in a liberal democracy without expecting to be offended occasionally: a price of freedom of expression.

For example, in the BBC documentary a young British-born  worker is matched to a Polish immigrant who owns his own construction business.  The young man contends foreigners are taking all of the jobs.  He gets to meet Mariuscz  a business owner and notices that his whole shop is full of only Polish workers which fuels his negative perception.   However, when he has a conversation with Mariuscz he realizes that these workers have a starting wage which is much lower than he would accept.  Mariuscz says he started at a low salary and worked his way up in a shop and finally decided to open his own business.  Mariuscz however is challenged to see that hiring only Polish workers is discriminatory and that he could benefit from English-speaking employees.  He is open to accepting this criticism and comes to see that his workers would learn English if there was someone around who would be prepared to speak it.  The result of this dialogue?  I would say a win-win for both participants.  Each was open to hearing the other’s point of view and challenge their own thinking.

British television shows me how much we Canadians have in common  However, I would have to say a few programs that I watched momentarily would never survive in Canada.  They are just too mean! Programs like Fat Families and Life on the DoleLife on the Dole  does not seem balanced at all.  Most of the cast consists of drug addicts, people who don’t want to work and ex-cons.  We don’t see many examples of the working poor.  If the purpose of Life on the Dole  is to make working people angry about the poor, than it succeeds in that regard.  If this program was filmed in Canada the slant would be different.  It would be aired to bring about empathy and awareness of the poor and set in a more compassionate light and with less of a classist tone.

All in all, British television rocks!  I need to run —-  Wife Swap UK is on!

 

 

Political Correctness: Haven’t We Gone Too Far?


By:  Evelina Silveira, President, Diversity at Work

“Evelina, I don’t know how to say it, because I don’t want to sound bad or offend anyone but…”   “Just say it!”  I declare.   “You don’t have to be politically correct with me, if I don’t know what the problem is, I can’t help you!”  The tension automatically dissipates; and a looser more relaxed tone settles in and then the client begins to tell me an uncensored version of what is happening.

This happens regularly to me when I receive a call from a client. Usually they are stressed about a situation and they want answers but they don’t want to be judged.  They have learned they cannot criticize certain groups because they will have a label hurled at them or get slapped with a human rights complaint –-the biggest threat and silencer of all.

I am writing this article because I believe in truth and fairness. I believe in a balanced approach to diversity and workplace inclusion.  Political correctness is not always “correct” when it comes to truth and fairness.

Politically correct language is not a bad thing. I don’t want to be referred to as a “girl” “chick” or “bitch” but a woman.  Using the “right words” is positive.  It demonstrates the progress we have made in our understanding of the equality of human beings.  I like that!  Perhaps we should have left it at that.

Political correctness is responsible for:

  • Creating animosity amongst different groups and perpetuating all of the “isms” where none have existed.
  • Suppressing the truth.
  • Removing ourselves from our moral obligations to help marginalized groups.
  • Perpetuating a double-standard when it comes to acceptable  behaviour.
  • Preventing us from talking to one another.

 

How Political Correctness Creates Animosity Amongst Groups

The Christmas holidays are a prime example. I have never met a Jew or a Muslim in Canada who was “offended” by celebrating Christmas in the workplace.  Yet, each year there is a rush to plan a holiday festivity which sounds like a Christmas one – but  it isn’t supposed to be. Or the gathering is cancelled altogether because the organization has just hired a Jew or a Muslim, or any other non-Christian.  The end result: dislike for those of minority faiths and the cancellation of a celebration which would have otherwise brought employees together. In our effort to please everyone –we please no one. Instead, “well-meaning”, “religiously-sensitive”  gestures spring into micro-aggressions in the workplace where none has previously existed.

How Political Correctness Suppresses the Truth

It’s seems like it wasn’t that long ago when CBC’s Marketplace made a formal apology  for publishing inaccurate test results  about vitamin supplements.  But I am unaware of any such apology with the Fifth Estates’ problematic reporting of the incidents which lead to the death of little Aylan Kurdi.  His precious life could have been saved. Instead, they aired a report which infers that the Canadian government was responsible  for Aylan’s death since his family’s application  wasn’t approved in time to immigrate to Canada!   Around the same time, European and Turkish papers had reported about Aylan’s father’s disregard for his own son’s life (did not give him a life jacket but wore one himself) and that he was actually a human smuggler who was trying to get to Germany to get the State to pay for very expensive dental work. And to make matters worse, Aylan  wasn’t the only member of his family who perished as a result of his father’s negligence it was also his mother and siblings. The last I read his father was going to prison.  I don’t recall a correction notice on the Fifth Estate or any other media sources for that matter. It’s not politically correct and it certainly wouldn’t fit in with Liberal politics.

Canadians have been led to believe that we are saving thousands of people from Syrian refugee camps, but sadly we are not. According to the April 13, 2016 edition of Hill Times confirms that “very few are coming from refugee camps”.  Rushing to bring in thousands of people into the country without a good plan and then saying we are saving lives is deceptive. Stop leading Canadians to believe that we are helping more people than we actually are  — we are not!

My friends from former communist countries have noted that the CBC is no different than the propaganda they had to put up with back in their country of origin. It seems that our media on the whole has a disdain for simultaneously broadcasting opposing points of view.  There’s a name for that:  media bias.

Internationally and at home, journalists, police officers, and government officials are not allowed to report what is going on because they are afraid of an uprising and backlash against refugees and migrants. Since when is censorship a part of living in a democratic country?  I ask myself: What must it be like to be a muzzled journalist these days?

Yet the sexual abuse of children at the hands of Catholic priests seems to be okay to broadcast around the world. Christian-bashing has becoming so acceptable in our modern society that we hardly notice it.  Rarely do you ever hear anyone sticking up for Christians. So who makes the decision of what truths can be disclosed and which will be suppressed? Political correctness does.

Political correctness slaps a “xenophobe” or “racist” label whenever you disagree with a leftist mentality. Very strong words, improperly used when citizens start asking questions about the politics of their country.  I would argue by using these words so regularly  actually takes away from the experiences of those who truly live them each day.

How Political Correctness Removes Us From Our Moral Responsibility

Where are the voices of Western feminists when it comes to advocating for the rights of women globally?   In some ways, today’s feminists haven’t evolved much from the 1960’s.  Female genital mutilation, child marriage and honour killings are off-bounds.  I would encourage any feminist who thinks it is culturally insensitive to challenge the violent practices of other cultures to meet the women who have endured them.  In my work with immigrant women, I have met those who have suffered these horrendous, traumatic practices and who have been marred physically and psychologically for the rest of their lives.  If we don’t try to help our sisters globally we are making the statement that their lives are less valuable.  Is the life of a Yemenite, Sudanese, Indian girl or other any less than a Western life?  Of course not. It is not racist to advocate for the rights of people who are often voiceless. It is the right thing to do!

How Political Correctness Makes Us Accept Intolerable Behaviour 

When we accept poor work performance or belligerent behaviour from a person of a designated group we are being unjust.   We are telling  ourselves that we cannot expect better behaviour because of “x” number of reasons and consequently we reduce them to a lower level of expectations. Translation:  we don’t feel they can attain our standards.  Isn’t this kind of like the “racism of lower expectations”?

What would happen if you walked naked down the street? There is a good chance the police would be called and you would be arrested for violating the public decency laws.  Most people I say don’t really care if there is a Pride Parade, but they do care if there is nudity involved.  Why do the Toronto police turn a blind eye to nudity at the Pride Parade when it is unlawful?  Since when does one group of people get to break the law without consequence and others can’t?  No one can argue that the LGBT community has a lot to celebrate and they have had a long history of oppression but that does not give them the right to be naked on the street.  One law for everyone, please! No exceptions.

Political Correctness Prevents Us From Talking To One Another

Many years ago, I had a wonderful opportunity to bring Jewish and Arab-Muslim women together for a dialogue group. These forward-thinking women through mutual learning wanted to “create a pocket of peace” in the city they lived in, by reducing hate and stereotypes.  It was one of the most difficult and rewarding groups I have ever facilitated as it  was so emotionally charged.  At the outset, these women denounced “terminal politeness”.  We all understood what it meant:  no phoniness and no political correctness.   Consequently, these women spent many weeks together, shared meals and prayers of peace.  As the facilitator, I can recount how the women expressed similar feelings about the impact on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  It was interesting to know how each group felt the newspapers were biased against them.  Did long-lasting friendships happen?  Not really, but respect did.  These were bold woman who were willing to ask and speak without judgment and fear and consequently they got the answers they were seeking.  This wouldn’t have happened if they had been politically correct.

What can we do as individuals?

1. Accept diversity of opinion. With embracing diversity comes the expectation of accepting  differences of opinion, even when it doesn’t suit you. . You cannot have one without the other.

2. Don’t accept one truth only. There are different sides to every story. Challenge bias when you see it. Whether it’s the media,  the authors of your children’s textbooks, or institutions and even yourself.

3.  Stop the silence and take a chance and speak out against political correctness.  I can guarantee that you’ll be a hero.  You won’t be alone.

 

Government Dollars Used to Spread Hate and Bias in Ethnic Media


Evelina Silveira, President, Diversity at Work – Publisher Inclusion Quarterly, and Diversity and Inclusion on a Budget.

The other day I recounted to a colleague that I blog about what makes me angry and passionate. I get really angry about the spread of hatred to any group and worst of all I get really angry when I know that valuable charitable dollars and government funds unknowingly and innocently are used to passively promote sexism, racism, and more.

Last night I couldn’t take it anymore.

A family member translated a joke that he had read in a local ethnic newspaper. The punch line was not funny to any of us. But obviously the editor must have got a chuckle. It was yet another joke that portrayed black people as savage beasts. This isn’t the first time this paper has done this. It also has a history of printing anti-Semitic jokes about money hungry, hooked- nosed Jews. Those weren’t funny either. We all have friends who are black and Jewish and we had an emotional response. My family member who is part of this ethnic group was outraged. If this newspaper was supposed to represent his cultural values, they did not do a good job of portraying his, he said.

I wish I could say that this is the only ethnic newspaper that does this but it is not. Former ESL students of mine often commented with disbelief about ethnic newspapers delivered to their schools with horrible offensive cartoons. Sometimes you don’t even have to know how to read the language to get a feel for what is coming through the cartoon images.

I remember the disgust I felt when I saw a cartoon of Condoleezza Rice some years ago portrayed with exaggerated lips, and butt – the stereotypical caricature of a black woman. Regardless, of your politics, you cannot overlook the incredible achievement this woman has made in her career in a male- dominated white government. Why reduce her to such a subordinate level? Not only was this cartoon racist it was misogynistic.

What about all of the anti-West propaganda found in these papers and more? Does it help these readers to feel more a part of Canadian society? How is this conducive? Creating a polarity of “them” and “us”? It doesn’t seem overly logical to me.

Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing and I wouldn’t want to that to change. For some of these fledgling newspapers they rely heavily on the advertising dollars from various levels of government and non-profits to keep them running. Non-profits believe that they are doing the right thing, getting their message out to a wider audience by using ethnic newspapers to do so and I am not discounting the value. The government does it to inform their constituents and to gain voters. Again, I doubt that any of these politicians would knowingly spend taxpayers’ dollars funding racist and sexist newspapers. They are in a bind because this is one of the most cost effective and fastest ways to get things out to ethnic constituents. Ethnic marketing is cheap in comparison to conventional forms.

However, I challenge governments and others who continue to put out dollars to these bigoted papers.

1. Consider your brand integrity when you choose an ethnic outlet. There are some exceptional ethnic newspapers with great journalist quality that do not engage in these bullying, bigoted and hate propaganda spreading tactics. Find out who they are and align yourself with those people. Remember, where you advertise is a reflection of you. Do you want to be associated with funding the spread of hatred against Jews, blacks, women, gays and others? You have a choice – don’t do it!

Take a look at a years worth of papers and see if you like what you see and what you read. Have someone who speaks the language go over the paper. Resist the urge to get cheap advertising by compromising your principles. I have been offered free space in some of these hate generating papers and ones that regularly contribute to the degradation of women and I have said no to them. At the end of the day, I have to keep with my principles and support the people close to me.

2. Leverage your power as a customer. You have a great program that your organization is running which has health benefits to the specific ethnic community that you are targeting. But you see that the ethnic paper that you are advertising in is bigoted toward some groups. So what do you do? Don’t lock yourself into a long term advertising contract. Tell them you will monitor their paper and demand change. You can ask the editor to write a note of apology in his/her paper and encourage him/her to write articles that are helpful toward Canadian integration.

3. Remember your responsibility. Are you using charitable dollars or taxpayer’s money to support these papers? Don’t channel hard earned dollars into media that is counter-productive to Canadian values of inclusion. Do your homework and ask around. Like I said, there are wonderful ethnic outlets with journalistic integrity that do a great service to their communities, helping them become more integrated into Canadian culture and embracing unity. These hard working professionals need more support and think of them next time you want to target a particular ethnic community or increase your reach.

We all have a role in shaping our country, making it inclusive and safe. We all benefit. What is special about Canada is that we somehow have managed to remain peaceful with all of our diversity. Let’s keep it that way. By challenging negative stereotypes and holding people accountable for spreading hate – we will be way ahead of the rest.

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