“Yet by invoking the War Measures Act in 1942, the government declared that race alone was a sufficient threat to Canadian security to revoke all rights of citizenship for Canadians of Japanese descent.” (15)
Canada is known to be peaceful and welcoming. This passage provided me with a reminder that the very government we prize for being welcoming and progressive was very different in a different time. I couldn’t help but realize that if I was in Canada, not even 100 years ago, I wouldn’t have the rights of a Canadian. I would most likely be considered a ‘threat’ and would be shunned not only by the people, but by the government. Like a splash of cold water, it was shocking that I wouldn’t have been regarded as Canadian, which is a fundamental part of my identity.
Looking at the differences between the past and the present, I think this passage shows that Canada is a progressive nation. If we compare the values of the Canadian government and the Canadian people now and then, we can see a clear difference in the way we regard diversity. The past government looked at diversity as something to fear, but now, we see diversity as a strength. Diversity that strengthens our trade, our economy, and our quality of life. In addition, this value of diversity is what many other countries view Canada as, and not many know of our past that wasn’t always about diversity.
“I as a Sansei didn’t speak Japanese and often could not understand what they are saying. Because of my linguistic deficiency, I was picked on by and isolated from the other children.” (19)
I couldn’t help but identify with this passage. As a Canadian who has Korean parents, I was born in Canada. I never grew up in Korea and can barely speak Korean. But, I interact with many people who are Korean. I go to a Korean church, my parent interacts with other Korean parents, and my extended family lives in Korea. I can’t always communicate with them and I’ve been judged for it. Not only by other kids my age, but by adults as well. This only cemented my belief that I was Canadian first, and that being Korean was only a small part of my identity. This passage reminded me of my own experiences and how the world is in a transition phase where not everyone belongs.
To be Canadian today is to be welcomed. We celebrate diversity and accept people of different places, races, cultures, and religions. However, in many other places of the world, this isn’t the case. There are places in the world that still perceive the people who don’t fit in as outliers. But for many people who are looking for a new place to start over, or a new place to belong, Canada is often where they come. I think that this shows that Canada is a place for those who might not belong in this transition phase of society.
“From that experience, I understood that my physical appearance must be threatening to people like her. Ignorance and the relentless propaganda during the war, portraying buck-toothed, slant-eyed “Japs” in the cockpit of a plane on a kamikaze mission, must have caused mystery and fear just as today’s image of a Muslim extremist strapped with explosives. Every time I look in a mirror, I saw that stereotype.” (24-25)
When I read this passage, I couldn’t help but wonder I look like. How do I look like to other people? When I pondered this question, I realized that I look Korean. I have dark hair, I have the facial structure of someone who is Korean. Then I proceeded to contemplate how others would perceive me because they see me as someone who is Korean. I couldn’t come to a solid conclusion, but realized that in our world, even though we say ‘don’t judge a book by it’s cover’, we do exactly that. In the past, and in the present, we tend to judge people by how they look, no matter how much we try to move away from it.
Canadians are known to be diverse, but many people still think of Canadians as mostly Caucasian. When they think of Canada, they think of igloos, maple syrup, hockey, and peace. They don’t often think of the Indigenous people, of Asian people, or of people of colour. This passage reminded me that even though Canada is proud to be a diverse nation, we aren’t often viewed as diverse. There are contradictory views of Canada where people say Canada is diverse, but still think that Canada is built of individuals who are majorly Caucasian.
“The symposium participants were eminent geneticists discussing the exciting implications of their work, and the star of the meeting was Nobel laureate James Watson, co discoverer with Francis Crick of the double helix. […] Then he proceeded to mock those who raise moral and ethical issues around modern genetics.” (55)
This surprised me somewhat. When I think of people who have done great things, who have made great accomplishments, I often think of them as good people. But a scientist who discovered something big might have a view where they believe that science must be advanced at all costs, with no regard to ethics. Another great person might have neglected their family to get where they are. These great people might’ve been excellent at what they did, but could have been arrogant and rude individuals. We don’t often see past someone’s achievements. This passage served to remind me that people are much more complex than we expect and that people of great accomplishments aren’t always the best people.
In our current society, ethics plays a huge role. Whether it be science, politics, or business, the question always arises. Is this right? Is this morally correct? In this passage, it’s clear that the values of society have changed. In the past, we see that ethics wasn’t as significant of a factor in science or politics. But in our current society, especially in Canada, we place a heavy emphasis on ethics. We ask ourselves if this is the right decision and if it’s morally justified.
“Somehow, in 1987, I was able to find a phone number and call the American singer John Denver, who answered the phone himself and said he knew who I was. He accepted my invitation to perform at the Stein, and, like Lightfoot, he traveled in at his own expense, flying his plane to the Kamloops airport.” (129)
I found this passage stood out because I was supposed to go to Stein Valley last year. Some of my peers have gone to Stein Valley. It’s a place that’s close by and isn’t some far off location like Sweden that I’ve only heard about. In addition, John Denver? The man who sang Country Road, a song that’s blowing up as a meme in our class? In Stein Valley? This is something that I never knew about and it was eye opening to see that there’s a lot that has happened in Canada that I am unaware of.
In this passage, I found that Canada has values that not only other Canadians share, but other nations share as well. The fact that an American came to support the environment in Canada shows that valuing the environment isn’t just a trait found in Canada. Because of Canada’s diversity, especially in the present, I think it’s become easier to find mutual values globally, because as our diverse demographic increases, we invite different values and perspectives into Canada that other nations have as well.
Theme: Finding a place to belong is often difficult to find, but being the outlier may become a strength.
David Suzuki didn’t fit in. He was shunned by the Canadians and he wasn’t accepted by the Japanese. David Suzuki didn’t belong. But despite all this, he managed to use the fact that he was an outlier to his advantage. Yes, he went through difficult experiences because of his differences, but he made his differences his strength. Not afraid to stand out, he went forward to share his diverse views with Canada. Without David Suzuki, we might not have a Stein Valley today and we might’ve lost so much of the environment that Canada boasts so proudly.