Thursday, October 05, 2006

One Language Isn’t For All

In the laundry room of my building there is a bulletin board where people living in the building can post various articles for sale.

Often, when people move out, there are great deals on furniture, cookware, electronics, computers and other things people have no use for anymore.

When I do my laundry, I always check out the board. I’ve never bought anything off of it, but you never know unless you look.

There was a sign that caught my interest. Not for what it had to offer. I didn’t know what it said. That is why it caught my interest, because it deeply offended me.

The sign was written exclusively in Chinese.

Now, living in Canada where the official languages are English and French – not Chinese – I was offended. I understand that there are Chinese-speaking people that live here, so it is okay to have Chinese on the sign. But to ONLY have Chinese on the sign, rudely excludes everyone else in this country who don’t read Chinese.

One of the great things Canada is known for is our acceptance of other cultures. We don’t stop people at the border and tell them they can’t practice their culture. We openly welcome other cultures into our Canadian mix – that is who we are – or as it appears today – were.

This mixing of cultures the world over has created who we are as Canadians. You can get authentic Greek, Italian, French, Romanian and Chinese food here. You see people wearing clothing which is customary of their culture. You hear people speaking their language on our streets. This is Canada.

But the problem occurs when people come here and fail to recognize that although we like learning about their culture, they have to accept the Canadian way of life and learn about being Canadian.

Far too many people come to Canada, become Canadian citizens even, yet they do not speak either of our two official languages. This is an embarrassment to our country, and has made living here all the harder.

Imagine, feeling like an outsider, a tourist, in your own country. That’s how I feel sometimes, when I see signs all in some foreign language, or I’m told by the shop-keeper’s daughter that she has to translate, because her mother doesn’t speak anything but Korean.

The problem is growing. These embarrassments to Canada don’t care that they don’t “fit in” with the rest of the country. Hell, they don’t seem to know they left their home country to have a life here. Instead, they set-up their own communities, small pockets of their hometown, where they can get by without speaking either of the official languages of the once great country they have decided to call home.

They create their own shops, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, even their own banks, phone companies, and other businesses, all so that they feel at home here – without really ever making a true Canadian home.

Canada’s immigration policies are to blame for this. Becoming a Canadian citizen should be a lot harder than answering a multiple-choice questionnaire, undergoing some health exams, and checking into a person’s past. In order to become a Canadian citizen, the government should make it a law that everyone must be fluent in at least one of our two national languages of English or French. Those that do not pass our language tests don’t get to stay here and enjoy the freedoms of our wonderful Canadian society.

That is the way it should be. It isn’t racist to expect someone who wants to call another country home, to be able to read, write, speak and understand that other country’s languages. This is the way it is in most countries around the world – except Canada.

Why is that?

I think our Canadian government is too politically correct and weak to impose the laws which most Canadian-born Canadians would openly welcome.

I just hope our pussy federal government comes to grips with reality soon – or we could end up with a prime minister that doesn’t speak either official languages. Could you imagine our prime minister needing a translator to translate what the opposition parties are saying? Or worse, just not caring about true Canadian values, and those that don’t speak whatever foreign language he speaks are just out of luck.

It could happen – if we don’t act soon.

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