Ben Lu, Guest Contributor

An Appeal to Sensible Canadians – Ben Lu

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A little about me.  I am an immigrant to Canada. Chinese by birth, I have a weird London accent on an off day and have been mistaken for Zimbabwean on a good day.  After years living across the pond.  Canada has been my home for 20 years. I am, just like you lot, Canadian.

I’d like to share some perspective, from my view.

It is with incredible clarity that I see how my country has achieved a very sensible, and humanitarian, immigration policy — one backed by a strong commitment to multiculturalism. We, as a nation, have been applauded by some of the biggest pundits on the globe, the WSJ and BBC just to name a pair.

It is a big deal when both the centre-right and centre-left western media are giving us a nod.

Should we be proud? Yes.

Can we rest on that? No.

There will always be folks who restore to hate and stereotypes, regardless of facts. We need only take a peak south of the border to see that in action. Here in Canada we expect better, a sensible Canadian, a more welcoming and celebratory base toward immigrants.

As we hear much about the “____ lives matter” movement — we have our own brand of that here.  People being judged, or worse, by the colour of their skin.

The other day, for example, I was at the supermarket when a toothless and angry gentleman told me to “move along” at the check-out….following up with “you people, get back to your country..” (plus a few choice words I’m not comfortable repeating)

This man was clearly troubled, but his reality was that I’m not Canadian because I am clearly of Chinese heritage.  It made no sense for me to get into any sort of a back-and-forth with this man, so I took the high road. (to be clear, I really wanted to smash my newly purchased free-range eggs into his face.) What bothered me more than anything in this scenario was the lack of response from any by-stander at that busy check out.  Not one person said a thing, it was disheartening.  I was bothered.  This racist got the attention he craved, and I took the “polite Canadian” route.

It must be said here: it’s not sympathy I’m looking for, I wasn’t bothered much by the time I walked out of that store, I’m sharing the experience as I ask for Sensible Canadians to stand up to this with me.

Quick sidebar:

A friend recently shared a story from her corporate experience — her company had been bought by a bigger competitor — an executive came in to “set the cultural tone”.  You know, the typical full-of-swagger big wig delivering the typical corporate pow wow message.

In the staff gathering, there were many “New Canadians”, judging from their faces.  When the manager told his new colleagues to “not be afraid of change in life, timidity had no place in the business world, fear of differences is a bad thing…” etc., the room fell eerily silent.

A middle-aged woman raised her hand and in a somewhat annoyed (but respectful) tone, said, “Sir, most of us are immigrants, we changed countries, continents, and are used to things turned upside down. We can do change, don’t worry about that.” The room erupted in cheers and laughter.  The manager was stunned, speechless.

Back to my original point, as the need for Sensible Canadians grows, I tell you a very personal story of note:

We need to put things into perspective before we judge.

I fight a “battle” amongst the community I share my cultural heritage with.  Many of them spoke ill of the Trudeau Government for letting in thousands of refugees — I spent hours messaging them, one at a time, pointing out their own prejudice and breath-taking hypocrisy.

I lost a few “friends” and am still a bit doubtful about being too much of a stick-in-the-mud to them.  Oh well, being a Sensible Canadian is worth it.

We are all sensible people.  We are capable of thinking and educating ourselves….this is an amazing, free, country where there is, literally, no censorship. (but still much bias and prejudice) None of us gets a pass for being ill-informed.

We owe it to ourselves to be informed so as to not rush to reactions when we see someone with a different background.  Do not judge them to be less-than just because they appear to be from elsewhere.

Check yourself when you, or someone near you, defaults to archaic cliche ethnic based jokes. Even the seemingly innocent thought is a nod to the root of the issue.  Stand up. Be a Sensible Canadian.

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  • Reply Cynthia Ott September 26, 2016 at 11:59 am

    I think I love you Ben Lu. I am a born and raised here- and I went to school with many 3rd and 4th generation Chinese-Canadians and Japanese- Canadians. My husband’s grandparents came from the United Kingdom – and don’t have those same Canadian roots. I feel for you Ben and your situation, based on bias. I honestly believe the “foreign buyers tax” – should be called – “the anti-foreign buyers tax” . Thank you for your post – and thank you for taking the high road , as sensible Canadians do.

    • Reply Ben Lu September 27, 2016 at 11:30 pm

      Thanks Cynthia. It’s something we all go through daily. But we are in a great country all things considered. Thanks for the kind words.

  • Reply Gord Dieno September 26, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Yes, thanks for being a sensible Canadian. I admittedly don’t always challenge the biased (racial or religious) commentary on social media or in public as a matter of self preservation. It would be practically an all day affair sometimes. I pick my fights, sometimes they are very direct and other times it’s in the form of gentle hints. All part of being Canadian I suppose.

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