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

wild goose chase

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The defence minister came to Canada as a child. I think Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley are both US-born. Also, Bobby Jindal wasn't "Bobby" at birth. Seems like he took the name when he was older?
Okay, that makes sense. Perhaps a better example would be Navdeep Bains, another cabinet minister who is Canadian-born.
 

wild goose chase

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I wonder what made Chinese Canadians more likely to assimilate than other visible minority groups.
Are they more likely to assimilate? I got the impression that assimilation is similar for many visible minority groups -- recent immigrants of any group obviously might be culturally different from established Canadians, but most second or third generation Canadians of any race seem well integrated. It's just that for some groups in certain places, the average community has been longer in Canada than others and so have more time to assimilate.
 

prosperegal

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Are they more likely to assimilate? I got the impression that assimilation is similar for many visible minority groups -- recent immigrants of any group obviously might be culturally different from established Canadians, but most second or third generation Canadians of any race seem well integrated. It's just that for some groups in certain places, the average community has been longer in Canada than others and so have more time to assimilate.
Well, BEING Chinese Canadian, maybe I can offer my PERSONAL perspective (which could be different from OTHER Chinese Canadians - especially non-HK Canadians). My guess is HK's education system - especially for boomers (and older) who attended religious schools. At that time, schools run by the Catholic and (perhaps) Anglican schools were the best ways for the islands kids to, well, "move up." Most of these schools taught in English and the only classes offered in Cantonese - especially after a certain grade level - were Chinese and Chinese history (with the latter probably only mandatory in middle school). In addition, the religious schools often required students enrolled to take on "saint" names, which might be why many have westernized names in addition to their Chinese ones (and thus, chose both naming methods for their offspring). I have found that because of that, my upbringing, along with many of my same-ethnicity peers, were a bit more...shall we say..."diverse" and "exposed" than many other immigrants - even those who are similarly aged. To this day, I find it shocking (okay, maybe surprising is more accurate) that there are people who were raised in Toronto (whether first generation or not) who did not eat food from other cultures (other than maybe (crappy) pizza and burgers from McDonald's) until they were at least 12 or 13. And the whole thing about taking heritage food to school for lunch was partially unknown to me. Maybe it's because my grandmother can't really cook (and my mom can't cook, PERIOD), but my school lunches mostly consisted of sandwiches (though half the time, the filling was indeed Chinese, or at least Chinese inspired. Soy sauce grilled chicken and that. Not "weird" enough for kids to make fun of my food. And most of the Chinese kids took mainstream(ish) food to school anyway. Maybe it's a class thing? I went to a very solidly middle class separate school before heading to private). Okay, I take back the fact that my mom can't cook at all - she made grilled cheese. Not the "normal" way stove top, but on a toaster oven. Often with a slice of deli/black forest ham. This is my comfort food and I call it croque etudiant.

I once asked an "outsider" about this, an older woman in her 70s. She spent most of her career working with foreign students and her belief is that when one comes from a more urban environment, one is more exposed to other cultures and ideas and thus, find it easier to integrate. But that doesn't explain MY PARENTS' generation - one whose upbringing would be considered borderline poverty to below poverty by post-WWII North American standards.
 
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wild goose chase

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One thing in Toronto I've noticed compared to many US cities when it comes to multiculturalism or multi-racialism is that people identify more with specific cultures or national origins, or specific ethno-linguistic groups that are much more specific (eg. Trinidadian, Somalian, Tamil, Colombian, Hong Konger etc.) than those in the US (where people talk more about big racial/cultural groupings like Black, White, Hispanic, Asian).

I don't think I'm the first to suggest this but I have heard people say that race in terms of appearance over culture is a bit more salient for Americans because of their history of race relations (eg. Somalian and Nigerian Americans will both be seen as "black", and Chinese or Thai Americans will both be seen as "Asian" first rather than their specific ethnicity) while Canada with its history of a more cultural/linguistic divide among the majority European-descended group (French vs. English) until the 60s makes ethnolinguistic identities come more to the forefront than race. I'm not sure how much I buy that explanation specifically but I do notice a bit more in the way of classifying people by bigger racial groups in the US (at least the parts of the US I've spent time in) and finer, more detailed ethnic/cultural groups in Toronto (I can't speak for other Canadian cities). Is there any validity to this?
 

WislaHD

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One thing in Toronto I've noticed compared to many US cities when it comes to multiculturalism or multi-racialism is that people identify more with specific cultures or national origins, or specific ethno-linguistic groups that are much more specific (eg. Trinidadian, Somalian, Tamil, Colombian, Hong Konger etc.) than those in the US (where people talk more about big racial/cultural groupings like Black, White, Hispanic, Asian).

I don't think I'm the first to suggest this but I have heard people say that race in terms of appearance over culture is a bit more salient for Americans because of their history of race relations (eg. Somalian and Nigerian Americans will both be seen as "black", and Chinese or Thai Americans will both be seen as "Asian" first rather than their specific ethnicity) while Canada with its history of a more cultural/linguistic divide among the majority European-descended group (French vs. English) until the 60s makes ethnolinguistic identities come more to the forefront than race. I'm not sure how much I buy that explanation specifically but I do notice a bit more in the way of classifying people by bigger racial groups in the US (at least the parts of the US I've spent time in) and finer, more detailed ethnic/cultural groups in Toronto (I can't speak for other Canadian cities). Is there any validity to this?
I can anecdotally confirm your thinking here. I agree, it is a difference.

Stemming not just from the English/French divide. Irish, Scottish, Germans, Italians, Greeks, Poles, Portuguese, Russians, Macedonians, Jews and the Chinese were also other clear and very present ethno-cultural groups in Toronto. Toronto also shared many different church denominations in a small spatial area, further adding to that divide.
 

prosperegal

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One thing in Toronto I've noticed compared to many US cities when it comes to multiculturalism or multi-racialism is that people identify more with specific cultures or national origins, or specific ethno-linguistic groups that are much more specific (eg. Trinidadian, Somalian, Tamil, Colombian, Hong Konger etc.) than those in the US (where people talk more about big racial/cultural groupings like Black, White, Hispanic, Asian).

I don't think I'm the first to suggest this but I have heard people say that race in terms of appearance over culture is a bit more salient for Americans because of their history of race relations (eg. Somalian and Nigerian Americans will both be seen as "black", and Chinese or Thai Americans will both be seen as "Asian" first rather than their specific ethnicity) while Canada with its history of a more cultural/linguistic divide among the majority European-descended group (French vs. English) until the 60s makes ethnolinguistic identities come more to the forefront than race. I'm not sure how much I buy that explanation specifically but I do notice a bit more in the way of classifying people by bigger racial groups in the US (at least the parts of the US I've spent time in) and finer, more detailed ethnic/cultural groups in Toronto (I can't speak for other Canadian cities). Is there any validity to this?
I think it depends on the ethnic group and the city. Italian Americans, even those whose PARENTS were American-born (i.e. the grandparents or great-grandparents were the immigrant generation) are likely to identify as Italian/Italian American. More recent immigrants might identify with their direct heritage as well. I dunno.
 

wild goose chase

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I think it depends on the ethnic group and the city. Italian Americans, even those whose PARENTS were American-born (i.e. the grandparents or great-grandparents were the immigrant generation) are likely to identify as Italian/Italian American. More recent immigrants might identify with their direct heritage as well. I dunno.
One thing, which again I'll admit is just based on anecdote or impression only, I feel seems to be is that more Americans (in the Midwest and Northeast I've seen) than Canadians feel or put an emphasis on a genealogical/ancestry-based pride based on heritage, rather than direct cultural/linguistic one.

I've heard more Italian-Americans putting emphasis on descent/roots while more Italian-Canadians seems to emphasize the very direct cultural aspect (been to Italy and has family there, speaks Italian etc.). I think this may be in part due to Canadian immigrants often being newer but I think the "multiculturalism" aspect of Canada (even if it's ) often puts lived/expressed culture rather than ancestry at the forefront of identity.

It's also almost a cliche that you hear about the American who's 1/16 Irish by descent who's very proud of it, or an Italian-descended New Jersey resident who's never left the country but puts up an Italian flag, whereas I see less of that in Canada, where people who display symbols of ethnic pride really do have closer/more direct ties, and if they don't have those direct ties, they won't claim to identify as strongly.

I also feel like genealogy seems a bigger deal for some Americans than Canadians (eg. It seems like Americans make a bigger deal about being descended from Southerners or Yankees etc. or having ancestors that fought in the Civil War etc. much more than Canadians who care about if they are descended from Loyalists or later British immigrant etc.).

Another example of culture/language mattering more than ancestry I feel is how often an Ontarian who has a French last name but speaks no French at all isn't going to call him/herself "French-Canadian" while an Irish-descended Quebecois or even a Haitian-Quebecois would be seen as more "French" than him/her, while on the other hand I've heard New Englanders stateside claim to have "French Canadian" roots based on ancestry despite having no cultural ties anymore to speaking/practicing French culture (so in the US identity perhaps seems less tied to language). Perhaps English/French bilingualism plus multiculturalism makes language/culture more salient than ancestry alone. Also it seems like the famous claim that certain Americans like to say about being descended from a Cherokee princess or claiming to be proud of a distant Native American ancestor based on "family folklore", that turns out not to be the case and all upon examination --that isn't as much of a thing in Canada (few people will claim to say so without any evidence unless they really are Métis or have some actual/direct ties to Aboriginal communities).
 
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prosperegal

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I'm personally VERY INTERESTED in my ancestry because there are some things that just don't...add up for me. Time and time again, people stop me and ask if I'm Filipina, Vietnamese or Thai. As far as I'm concerned, my ancestry is Chinese on both sides. I realize that China was pretty much all over Asia/had colonies there, but none of the known records note ANYTHING about foreign wives/concubines/being descendants of wives/concubines (mistresses???!!!) from other parts of Asia. Then again, my only known records come from my dad's descendants. And they were scholars/government types/diplomats who were pretty much everywhere. I think the only way I could find out which parts of Asia I have ancestry from is to do an actual DNA test!
 

Johnny Au

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I'm personally VERY INTERESTED in my ancestry because there are some things that just don't...add up for me. Time and time again, people stop me and ask if I'm Filipina, Vietnamese or Thai. As far as I'm concerned, my ancestry is Chinese on both sides. I realize that China was pretty much all over Asia/had colonies there, but none of the known records note ANYTHING about foreign wives/concubines/being descendants of wives/concubines (mistresses???!!!) from other parts of Asia. Then again, my only known records come from my dad's descendants. And they were scholars/government types/diplomats who were pretty much everywhere. I think the only way I could find out which parts of Asia I have ancestry from is to do an actual DNA test!
There might be a chance you would be descended from Genghis Khan or one of the generals mentioned in Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
 

lesouris

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I'm personally VERY INTERESTED in my ancestry because there are some things that just don't...add up for me. Time and time again, people stop me and ask if I'm Filipina, Vietnamese or Thai. As far as I'm concerned, my ancestry is Chinese on both sides. I realize that China was pretty much all over Asia/had colonies there, but none of the known records note ANYTHING about foreign wives/concubines/being descendants of wives/concubines (mistresses???!!!) from other parts of Asia. Then again, my only known records come from my dad's descendants. And they were scholars/government types/diplomats who were pretty much everywhere. I think the only way I could find out which parts of Asia I have ancestry from is to do an actual DNA test!
There's always the possibility that the records aren't 100% accurate. I've read studies suggesting that about 3-4% of men are unknowingly raising children who are not biologically their own. I'm sure that number varies by culture and by time period, and there may be other reasons for recording down false information as well (i.e. even men who know their child is not biologically their own may raise them as such).

My dad's side of the family is Dutch so we have records stretching back to the Napoleonic occupation; I'm almost certain that the large family tree I can construct from those records is at least slightly inaccurate.

Human beings, no matter the era, have faults. Even in the most sexually restrictive areas and cultures, people engage in sexual activity outside what is socially sanctioned. Sometimes that results in children. And - and I don't mean to suggest this has happened in your family - there have always been rapists out there as well committing crimes during times of both war and peace.
 

wild goose chase

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Chicago is pretty close to a "typical" US city with a large African American population and where Mexicans something like 40% of the immigrant population. The most distinctive element in Chicago is its large Polish population - while other industrial cities like Buffalo and Detroit have large Polish American populations - Chicago has a large Polish immigrant population that came in the 80s and 90s.
Was just reading this the other day.

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/normal-america-is-not-a-small-town-of-white-people/

Talks about which American cities (and states) reflect demographics closer to the "average" for the country, as well as those whose demographics resemble those of the US in the 1950s.

I wonder how a Canadian comparison would look like -- it might be even more drastic since Canada's diversity rise occurred mostly post 1960s and in big cities much more than small ones. I wonder which city is closest to the Canadian "average" demographic too!
 

D633

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Was just reading this the other day.

http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/normal-america-is-not-a-small-town-of-white-people/

Talks about which American cities (and states) reflect demographics closer to the "average" for the country, as well as those whose demographics resemble those of the US in the 1950s.

I wonder how a Canadian comparison would look like -- it might be even more drastic since Canada's diversity rise occurred mostly post 1960s and in big cities much more than small ones. I wonder which city is closest to the Canadian "average" demographic too!

Typical for those of you on the East coast....but Western American cities like Dallas and Denver and Salt Lake City and Phoenix are completely different in numerous ways.....the physical layouts are much different....much more spread out ...not just suburbs but like there is not much of a skyline or even much of a downtown in the old fashion eastern seaboard way.
 

wild goose chase

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(eg. Italian-Americans seem to not speak Italian as much as Italian-Canadians, mention family members who've lived in the "old country", or cheer for Italy in international sporting events), but I think part of that is that Toronto is a newer immigrant city, not that they retain their cultural customs and ties longer.
Italian-Americanness has a lot of time separating it from its Italian origins, but Italian emigration to Canada is still relatively recent and more connected to Italy. There was a piece in the Star yesterday about the reception that The Sopranos had in Italy - even putting aside the fact that the Mafia is not a part of the Italian-North American experience for many people, Italian audiences seemed to dislike being reminded that Italian-Americans are disappointingly gauche and unlike Italian Italians. I don't know why this was a surprise - there was even an episode that highlight this intra-Italian culture clash.
According to this article, which examines with data which names are most well-represented in Canada proportionally relative to the States, in the 1950s and 60s, there was a period when Italian-origin names like Giuseppina, Franco and Paolo were particularly common in Canada.
 

Eug

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Dunno about melting pot vs mosaic, but a lot of the larger US cities have much more ghettoization, with many of those ghettos exuding an unpleasant feeling of unsafeness.

Toronto overall just seems more safe in general, which means it's easier to enjoy our cross-cultural differences.
 

Bradley Libralesso

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It is important to note where our national policy of multiculturalism came from. It came to dampen the separatism in Quebec. The Quebecois were using their unique cultural heritage as a way to levy more power in Canadian politics and push for more seperation. Multiculturalism policies were created to bring in more communities of unique cultural heritages to make the Quebecois just one of many, drowning out their political voice. So from the start Canada is a bit different because we had a political stake in encouraging people not to assimilate. Whether that worked or not is up for debate, but there is no doubt the intention is much different than many other multicultural countries.
 

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