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Does Toronto's multiculturalism really contrast with the "melting pot" of American cities?

Johnny Au

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Yeah, especially since the first and second of those categories describe skin tones, the third describes a heterogeneous group of people with a common linguistic heritage regardless of ancestry, and the fourth pertains to a continent where 60% of the world lives.
Not just that, but apparently, aboriginal groups are excluded, as well as those from North Africa (as they are neither black nor Asians).

The United States Census Bureau needs to be reformed.
 

King of Kensington

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It seems like the Irish, and Scottish (in smaller towns in Ontario there is still celebration of Scottish pride I notice) descendants are now generally lumped into the same category as those of English descent (I knew people from New England that would not like this though!), whereas Italians are still categorized as what people call "ethnic" (I really dislike this kind of usage, as if only some people have an ethnicity).
They're all, to borrow from our prime minister, "old stock Canadians" not "ethnics."
 

the lemur

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I once heard a co-worker of mine in the US in a fairly rural area saying "Italians and Americans" in a setting where there did not actually seem to be Italian citizens (unless there were some who spoke American English real well) sitting at the table. I assume she meant American in the context you just mentioned -- those descended from settlers with many generations of ancestry, as opposed to Italian-Americans.

This usage was really a culture shock to me as a Torontonian.
I've heard similar things about other groups that happen to be the only non-WASP/non-anglo ethnicity in the area, such as the Portuguese in parts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
 

the lemur

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It seems like the Irish, and Scottish (in smaller towns in Ontario there is still celebration of Scottish pride I notice) descendants are now generally lumped into the same category as those of English descent (I knew people from New England that would not like this though!), whereas Italians are still categorized as what people call "ethnic" (I really dislike this kind of usage, as if only some people have an ethnicity).
The same reason the phrase 'ethnic food' bugs me.
 

the lemur

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Yeah, especially since the first and second of those categories describe skin tones, the third describes a heterogeneous group of people with a common linguistic heritage regardless of ancestry, and the fourth pertains to a continent where 60% of the world lives.
And of course there are overlaps: for one thing, being Hispanic can be combined with more than one skin colour ...
 

the lemur

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I feel like that's a thing that's very regional to Irish-Americans in Boston, and also in nearby New England, even compared to Irish-Americans elsewhere and urban Irish-Canadians too.

I don't perceive Irish-Canadians in Toronto really holding on to such an identity relative to the Bostonians, but it would be a different story in Newfoundland, where Irish culture (eg. music) persisted and still persists among many Irish-Canadians and they even spoke a distinct, but now-lost dialect of Irish until the turn of the 20th century.

The other thing that's interesting to me, is that there is a disconnect sometimes between one's stated identity and how closely elements of the ancestral culture are actually preserved. There are people who wear the flag of their great-grandpa's home nation and boast and brag about pride in it, but never stepped foot in it. There are those who don't outwardly show such pride, but actively visit the homeland, know the language, speak to relatives there etc. Some say that often those who speak the loudest about their cultural heritage aren't necessarily those who actually practice and preserve it.
I bet there are some interesting encounters between voluble Irish-Americans and actual Irish people coming to work in the US these days.
 

King of Kensington

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Having looked at several North American metros, here's a listing of immigrant populations (of at least 5000) where Toronto is in the top 3.

#1:

United Kingdom 116,655
Sri Lanka 105,565
Pakistan 99,295
Hong Kong 99,285
Portugal 73,740
Romania 24,515
Afghanistan 21,185
South Africa 13,575
Serbia 13,505
Croatia 13,175
Kenya 11,240
Bosnia and Herzegovina 10,090
Netherlands 9,765
Saudi Arabia 8,105

#2:

India 279,425 (New York is #1)
China 237,025 (New York)*
Philippines 185,085 (Los Angeles)*
Italy 116,240 (New York)
Guyana 72,090 (New York)
Iran 60,785 (Los Angeles)
Trinidad and Tobago 46,915 (New York)
Russia 35,200 (New York)
Ukraine 31,795 (New York)
Greece 31,185 (New York)
Germany 27,635 (New York)
Bangladesh 25,560 (New York)
Iraq 22,145 (Detroit)
Hungary 14,725 (New York)
Turkey 11,125 (New York)
Albania 10,010 (New York)
Czechoslovakia 9,365 (New York)
Barbados 8,305 (New York)
St. Vincent/Grenadines 7,835 (New York)
Malaysia 7,690 (New York)
Grenada 7,565 (New York)
Macedonia 6,410 (New York)
Belarus 5,540 (New York)

#3:

Jamaica 97,660 (New York, Miami)
Poland 64,095 (Chicago, New York)
Ghana 14,035 (New York, Washington)
Israel 13,440 (New York, Los Angeles)
Ireland 9,715 (New York, Boston)
Bulgaria 6,905 (Chicago, New York)
Syria 5,245 (New York, Los Angeles)

* The Bay Area is split into San Francisco-Oakland and San Jose MSAs; if they are combined Toronto is #3 behind the Bay Area.
 
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howl

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As I see it the "Multicultural Mosaic" is not about categorizing people for some specific legal or social reason, but about encouraging people who identify themselves with a particular cultural group to remember and celebrate their heritage. In other words, if you are a Mandaeian from Iraq and you come to Canada you will be not only allowed to but are encouraged to maintain your old cultural practices (within the limits of the Canadian constitution). This contrast with the melting pot model where everyone coming to a country is expected to adopt the cultural practices of their new homeland. Whether the government classifies you as an Iraqi, Arab or Kurd is something completely different and has nothing to do with the melting pot vs. mosaic question.
 

Mislav

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Toronto has a lot of immigrants, which is why a lot of them tend to stick to their own communities. There's nothing wrong with speaking a foreign language, in fact as a polyglot myself I can tell you it has a lot of advantages. But I sometimes wish we could all say we're Canadian instead of Italian, Greek, Chinese or whatever. Nonetheless that seems to be less of a problem for Canadian born children of immigrants.

As for Americans being in a melting pot, that fact is only partially true. It's mostly descendants of European immigrants that see themselves as "American". And while we would like to think differently you see racial segregation in virtually every city in the States, much higher than in Canada. In fact racial tensions have been higher than they have been in a long time and it's not just the "evil" whites against non-whites. There is a lot of tension between non-whites vs non-whites of different races. In the Oakland area, Asian immigrants have been reportedly bullied by African Americans to the point where they have started to form gangs. In certain areas of Los Angeles it's not advised for a black guy to walk hand in hand with a good looking Latina. Granted there are many well integrated blacks, Asians and Latinos in the States but when I see so many social problems I can't exactly say American cities are really "melting pots".

Although in theory the American model of "we're all Americans" sounds better, I think I prefer Toronto to Chicago, L.A. or NYC.
 

Tewder

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... one that actual Irish people are in no hurry to accept as genuinely (for lack of a better word). In contrast to wildgoosechase's point about Italian-American vs Italian and/or 'Italian and Canadian' (which I think has something to do with Italian immigration to Canada being in many cases more recent than in the US), Irish-Americans readily identify as just 'Irish', but to people from Ireland the way that identity is expressed seems like a pantomime of Irishness.
I think you've hit the nail on the head here... American assimilation has created some very interesting and rich hybrid-type cultural identities, ones that borrow ideas from the 'old' culture and adapts them into an american context, i.e. the 'Irish American' you speak of or the 'Italian American' are really a hybrid of nostalgic/received ideas of a mythologized homeland (likely never visited among successive generations) superimposed onto the mythology of the American experience (the whole 'Ellis Island'/ 'American dream' ideal etc)... of course the african-American hybrid is just about the best example. The American latino hybrid culture is emerging too.

These uniquely American cultural identities are a) part of the bigger whole (the 'Ellis Island'/'American Dream' myth unites them) and b) have next to no real resemblance to the identities of the original homelands themselves. These are distinct identities that over time have developed their own cuisines (Italian American pizza is almost nothing like Italian), their own speech dialects, cultural practices, and their own unifying histories now too. This is the effect of the American melting pot and I think it's pretty cool.

My suspicion is that Canadian Multiculturalism doesn't have quite the same effect, it places far more emphasis on celebrating the homeland/keeping it alive in Canada rather than adapting it to the new land. The one major exception to this being the French Canadian culture, which is not surprising as policies in Quebec resemble a U.S. model of assimilation and adaption far more than what we see anywhere else in Canada.
 

wild goose chase

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I think you've hit the nail on the head here... American assimilation has created some very interesting and rich hybrid-type cultural identities, ones that borrow ideas from the 'old' culture and adapts them into an american context, i.e. the 'Irish American' you speak of or the 'Italian American' are really a hybrid of nostalgic/received ideas of a mythologized homeland (likely never visited among successive generations) superimposed onto the mythology of the American experience (the whole 'Ellis Island'/ 'American dream' ideal etc)... of course the african-American hybrid is just about the best example. The American latino hybrid culture is emerging too.

These uniquely American cultural identities are a) part of the bigger whole (the 'Ellis Island'/'American Dream' myth unites them) and b) have next to no real resemblance to the identities of the original homelands themselves. These are distinct identities that over time have developed their own cuisines (Italian American pizza is almost nothing like Italian), their own speech dialects, cultural practices, and their own unifying histories now too. This is the effect of the American melting pot and I think it's pretty cool.

My suspicion is that Canadian Multiculturalism doesn't have quite the same effect, it places far more emphasis on celebrating the homeland/keeping it alive in Canada rather than adapting it to the new land. The one major exception to this being the French Canadian culture, which is not surprising as policies in Quebec resemble a U.S. model of assimilation and adaption far more than what we see anywhere else in Canada.
That's interesting but I wonder if such a difference found between Americans and Canadians when it comes to immigrants and their descendants that far back (the past century or further) is attributable to what we now celebrate as multiculturalist policies or attitudes.

After all, multiculturalism as official policy for Canada really only started a generation or two ago -- the 1970s. I'm not sure if the experiences of (and towards) immigrants in either country in the 19th century, or the 1920s, or even the 1950s differed that much. For instance, until the 1960s, both countries restricted non-European immigration, both countries passed exclusionary policies etc.

One thing that might make sense though is that historically, the US has been a bigger draw than Canada for immigrants and was first choice or settled earlier by them, so perhaps Canada, in an attempt to recruit more immigrants/settlers/homesteaders (eg. the Last Best West) might have allowed more leeway for them to keep their old customs and cultures so they'd be more enticed to stay.

When it comes to preservation of things like language, certain Canadian communities did seem to keep theirs for quite a long time ( Ukrainian, Scottish and Irish), but I do wonder if on the whole, language preservation (for non-English, non-French or Aboriginal tongues) is rare and hard to come by past a couple generations (Irish Americans in Boston may not be very Irish-speaking, but it's not like you regularly hear Irish Canadians in Toronto doing so either).

It seems though cities are diverse, it's been historically actually some of the rural communities that preserved distinct languages later like Ukrainian in the West (I guess the dialect of German in the US, Pennsylvanian Dutch is another example).
 

King of Kensington

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Another thing to keep in mind was that the melting pot idea was really at its peak in the early 20th century, while official multiculturalism came to Canada in the 1960s. By this time, the "melting pot" idea was being rethought in the US as well.

In the early 1960s, a book called Beyond the Melting Pot appeared, arguing that NYC was not a melting pot. Mario Cuomo, New York State's first Italian American governor, didn't care much for the term either.

When he ran for mayor of New York in 1977, Mario Cuomo called the city a ''magnificent mosaic,'' and recalls saying the same about the entire country three years before that. ''I never liked 'melting pot,' '' he says. ''Our strength is not in melting together, but in keeping our cultures.''
http://www.nytimes.com/1990/01/03/opinion/the-mosaic-thing.html
 

wild goose chase

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Another thing to keep in mind was that the melting pot idea was really at its peak in the early 20th century, while official multiculturalism came to Canada in the 1960s. By this time, the "melting pot" idea was being rethought in the US as well.

In the early 1960s, a book called Beyond the Melting Pot appeared, arguing that NYC was not a melting pot. Mario Cuomo, New York State's first Italian American governor, didn't care much for the term either.



http://www.nytimes.com/1990/01/03/opinion/the-mosaic-thing.html
If that's the case, then perhaps the popularity and positive reception of multiculturalism in Canada, and especially in Toronto might be in part due to the largest waves of immigrants arriving or starting to arrive right at and after the time official multiculturalism was established.
 

Admiral Beez

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Toronto has a lot of immigrants, which is why a lot of them tend to stick to their own communities. There's nothing wrong with speaking a foreign language, in fact as a polyglot myself I can tell you it has a lot of advantages. But I sometimes wish we could all say we're Canadian instead of Italian, Greek, Chinese or whatever. Nonetheless that seems to be less of a problem for Canadian born children of immigrants.
As an immigrant from the UK in the mid-1970s, I've never really referred to myself as an Englishman. Since my youngest days I've considered myself just a Canadian. Of course my immigration story is vastly different than those from non-English speaking, non-white countries, but I sometimes wonder if we'd rather not recognize English immigrants at all.



http://www.amazon.ca/Invisible-Immi...022&sr=1-2&keywords=canada+english+immigrants
 

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