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Summer Conference 2002

Rima Berns McGown

René Lavoie

Session Four – Social Inclusion in the Globalized Urban Environment
RÉNE LAVOIE, Directeur general, Action Séro Zéro (bio)
RIMA BERNS McGOWN, Writer/independent scholar (bio)
ROGER OBONSAWIN, President, O.I. Group (bio)


Ceta Ramkhalawansingh

I’d like to welcome you back on behalf of the planning committee for the conference. My name is Ceta Ramkhalawansingh, and I was going to be the moderator of this evening’s session, but when I realized that Adam Vaughan was going to be attending, I thought that he would be a very good negotiator of the panel, particularly given the topic, which is "Social Inclusion in the Globalized Urban Environment." However, during our session — the planning session for the conference — the working theme was the "disaffected," and as the political specialist for CityTV, we know that Adam roams the streets of Toronto talking to all the disaffected, including the excluded, and on behalf of the conference planning committee, I am pleased to invite Adam Vaughan to be the moderator for this evening’s programme.

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

You’ve got to love it when the City of Toronto’s Equity Officer, on the Inclusion Panel, makes way for a white male, when she herself is from Trinidad. My parents are immigrants, if it helps, but at any rate...

It is interesting: I have been listening to this issue of globalization and cities, and I am very pleased that we have managed to cut out not just the provinces but the federal government from the debate. I think that is a very good starting point.

I was taken by a couple of comments that were made today: one of them had to do with the need to attract businesses into cities, and the other one that said that we need to attract skilled labour. As these two issues pertain to globalization, and to cities and to tonight’s discussion, I find an interesting policy flaw that emerges when we talk about those two things. Attracting business, attracting capital: that is what free trade is all about. It is basically about stripping capital of its citizenship requirements and giving it a free pass around the world and allowing it to choose how or where it wants to invest. It is a very interesting concept, and has benefits and of course great difficulties attached to it, but we haven’t given the rights to people that we have given to capital.

When we talk about attracting skilled labour into our cities, in Canada in particular, I am taken back to a quiz that was in the Toronto Star about a month ago, and that was the Immigration Quiz. You could see how many points you would gain based the form that all immigrants who want to come to Canada have to fill out. And I was shocked and humoured [amused?] to find out how many of us wouldn’t be allowed into our own country. That being said, the downside of that, and the corollary to that is that many of the immigrants that we allow into this country come in with exceptional, exceptional skills, exceptional abilities, extraordinary insight, great ability to help us do trade around the world just based on their knowledge of local economies in other places, and yet we insist that they do things that have nothing to do with the very degrees they are required to have just to enter this country. It is one of the great tragedies of our modern era is that we don’t mind sending capital abroad and bringing capital in, but we have a great deal of trouble bringing people into our country still, and allowing them to pursue their goals and dreams in this country. Which doesn’t bring me to my first guest, but it does introduce the topic of how to include people in cities to make cities more vibrant, more functional, more enjoyable, more fun, but also healthier.

My first guest is Roger Obansawin from the First Nations of this country, and he can talk about what was perhaps the most generous and creative immigration policies of all time, and how it has played out. I’ll let you go from there...

Roger Obansawin

Thank you Adam. If we could have known, we would have had a stricter immigration policy. Bonjour, Bojo Waimitigoshi, shekon Shoganosh, good evening everybody. I want to first of all tell you a bit about an experience I had when I first became involved in aboriginal issues, in 1969. I was a student at Ryerson Polytechnical, and I had been working for the Department of Public Welfare, which is now [ComSoc Community and Social Services?], the Ontario Government — so that kind of dates me — as a family benefits worker. They sponsored me to go to Ryerson and take a course in social services, which I did. During that course, one of the speakers that came to address us was a representative of the Department of Indian Affairs, and he began to talk about the wonderful things that the Government and Indian Affairs was doing for native people. He started to talk about how they were now starting to give native people more responsibilities, more independence, more autonomy, and that they were actually going to let native people control some of their own programs and services. Part of their plan, therefore, was to transfer a lot of those programs and services to native communities, and the first program was welfare.

So, they were going to let us administer our own welfare programs in our communities, and that was to be called "self-government." I called it "administration of our own poverty" because, without an economy, how can you have a welfare system? It is still a system that comes from outside the community. That’s not where you start. You start by building an economy, and then we look at how we can help ourselves within the community through the resources that we have at our disposal. So everything was kind of backwards, and it has taken 32 years to fight that kind of issue to get to the point where we can even start talking about it, certainly not to government because they still want to control it.

A strong city will hold its own in an international arena. It will benefit from globalization: economically, socially, and culturally. Because of globalization, there are no borders. Consequently, companies will want to locate in a vibrant city as a good place to do business. There is richness of cultures, a strong, diversified economy, a multitude of social opportunities, and strong support services. So what makes such a good city? To me, it is a city that practices inclusion of all its citizens. Unless we maximize the productivity of all the people, we will have segments that fall behind, and this leads to an increased feeling of powerlessness, from which comes hostility, isolation, and the extremes of aggression and passivity. And the native community has suffered from passivity for so many years that that aggression becomes internalized. The results are invariably increased crime rates and social services pressures. Productivity never achieves its true potential, and economic health is unattainable. The case I make today is that this continues to be the situation facing aboriginal people in Canada, on and off reserves.

Prior to the 1950s and 1960s, aboriginal people lived primarily on the land. Lack of opportunities in home communities, as our economies were decimated on the land, led to an increased migration to the cities. The cities did not usually have the capacity to absorb us in a productive way. Therefore, over the years, the aboriginal population has been marginalized. Our people are caught in a cycle of poverty. Birth rates are approximately twice as high as the general Canadian population. The 1996 census data indicates that the urban aboriginal population is close to 50%, while 76% of aboriginals live off reserves, and that is today’s reality. The cycle of poverty continues in urban areas. As people came here for opportunities, some were able to take advantage of some, but they were not the majority. Part of the reason it continues is that the cities lack the capacity to positively integrate the aboriginal community within the fabric. The aboriginal urban communities are caught in a cycle of poverty with no end in sight. In comparison, immigrants have less when they come to Canada, but for the most part succeed, while the aboriginals stay where they are. How does one break this cycle? How do we build strong and vibrant aboriginal communities? What policies and initiatives have to be pursued in order to achieve this goal?

Strong aboriginal communities will not only help aboriginal individuals, but it will help all Canadians. One-hundred and fifty-two years of governments deciding what is best for aboriginal peoples to get ahead has not worked. One-hundred and fifty-two years of policies of assimilation and domination, regulated by the Indian Act, initially called "an Act for the Gradual Civilization of the Indians" has failed. We are caught in a cycle of well-meaning money being poured into "the native problem" with limited results. After 32 years of working in native communities across Canada, I believe that it is time to begin supporting aboriginal peoples in developing their own solutions to their poverty. Whether it was the Indian Agent, the Department of Indian Affairs, the Church, or well-meaning individuals and groups, the non-native has not succeeded. It is time to let us try. Because, unless we succeed as a people to emerge from our own poverty, we will never become fully integrated and productive members of urban areas. One-hundred and fifty-two years of policies based on assimilation and domination have not worked. This was clearly pointed out by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples established by then—Prime Minister Mulroney. And I quote: "the federal policy of assimilation and domination must be changed to one of cooperation and coexistence, on an equal level."

Aboriginal goals of self determination and self sufficiency cannot be achieved through assimilation. They will be achieved through integration. To be integrated, we must nurture and develop our own economies, and improve our skills and education levels. We will accomplish that with solutions which work best for us. These solutions may be unique and different, because they will be based on policies of cooperation and coexistence. That is what I have been fighting for — to help improve the conditions of aboriginal peoples in the cities — for the last 32 years. It is telling that the government definition of "inclusion" is assimilation, while an aboriginal person would define inclusion as integration. We are a part of a strong whole: that is integration; but we are a distinct part of a strong whole, intact, not one that has to be assimilated. We did not try to assimilate the Europeans when they came here.

Our company recently commissioned Dr. Fred Lazar, a respected economist, to conduct a study on aboriginal economic development, titled Sorting Out the Issues. I quote some facts from this paper:

"Educational attainment is positively correlated to labour-force experience, but education pays off less for each education group. The average earnings of aboriginal earners range from 72% to 77% of the average earnings of all Canadians. The average earnings of all aboriginal earners were only 66% of the average for all Canadians."

The following is my proposal for how we should work in the cities. As I mentioned previously, aboriginal peoples are economically impoverished, while governments are increasingly taxing our own poverty. We believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that we agreed to share — not give — to share the lands and resources with Canada in exchange for certain rights. So it wasn’t all rights going one way; it was rights going two ways. The right to live here depended on the agreements you had from us. Those rights included immunity from taxation and conscription. And I should note that even though native people were not subject to conscription during the war, they enrolled in higher numbers than any other group. They went voluntarily to fight for Canada.

I will not discuss the belief of our taxation immunity here. Instead, I will talk about using our own tax revenue as an economic development tool. We are proposing that governments not impose taxes on aboriginal peoples and enterprises until we achieve parity with the general Canadian population. Even if all of us exercised our right to tax immunity, our collective take-home earnings would be below the Canadian average, still. OI, along with all the major national aboriginal lobby groups — OI is our company — are developing a framework for how we can utilize taxation exemption as a tool for economic development in urban areas. This would allow us to self-finance our economic development, free from government control. This is not a new concept. This concept is well accepted and used in the corporate community. The government provides these deferred revenues to them. Again I quote from Dr. Lazar’s paper:

  • More is spent annually to prop up the incomes of farmers than is spent on education for First Nation children.
  • Total expenditures on international agencies run about 100 million dollars below the annual expenditures by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada on capital facilities maintenance on reserves and in the north.
  • CIDA’s annual budget almost exceeds total Indian Affairs spending on education and social programs for aboriginal peoples.
  • The financial assistance provided by Human Resources Development through subsidies for post-secondary education is equal to the total spending on education by Indian Affairs for all First Nations peoples.
  • The non-taxation of business-paid health and dental benefit costs governments $1.6 billion annually, exceeding Health Canada’s expenditures of $1.4 billion for health care for aboriginal peoples.
  • The charitable donations credit produces an additional cost of $1.3 billion. Compare this to Indian Affairs expenditures of $1.4 billion for health care for aboriginal peoples.

I believe that aboriginal taxation exemption is a win-win situation. The tax revenue loss for the Canada Customs and Revenue Commission will not be major because of our poverty. If we can break the current cycle of poverty, education and skills levels increase, there is increased pride in culture and we have a more productive and fully integrated aboriginal citizenship in cities. The cities would benefit from full participation of all its citizens.

Dr. Lazar points out that immigrants appear to face fewer labour market obstacles over time than do aboriginal peoples in Canada. And he had some statistics on that:

"The average earnings of aboriginal earners were 52% of the average earnings of all

immigrants who arrived between 1975 and 1996, but exceeded by 4% the average for all immigrants who only arrived between 1991 and 1995. This suggests that over time, immigrants have been able to improve their earning prospects considerably both in absolute terms and relative to those of aboriginal workers."

There is limited or no economy in many of our communities, both rural and urban. As the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples pointed out, and I quote from the report:

"Dependence is related not only to lack of jobs and reliance on social assistance but also the kinds of jobs.... Aboriginal people, to a greater extent than other Canadians, rely on employment in the public sector.... There is greater dependence on externally derived funding, and a weaker private sector.... Registered Indians in total, but especially those on reserve, are very underrepresented in other tertiary industries — financial services, transportation, retail and wholesale trade, business services, utilities, and communications."

A recent study done in the United States, called a Harvard research project, conducted out of Harvard University and the University of Arizona... It was conducted with a number of first nations in the United States and it identified the main factor contributing to aboriginal self-sufficiency. That factor is sovereignty. Cornell and Kalt, the leading researchers for the project concluded:

"Not only does tribal sovereignty work, but the evidence indicates that a federal policy of supporting the freedom of Indian nations to govern their own affairs, control their own resources, and determine their own future is the only policy orientation that works. Everything else has failed."

Following the Royal Commission report, Charles Coffey, the Executive Vice President for Business Banking at the Royal Bank of Canada, and John McCallum, then Chief Economist at the bank, in their paper, The Cost of Doing Nothing, concluded that, and I quote:

"The statistics leave no doubt as to the very sad state of aboriginal economic and social development today. If one is not moved by these statistics, one might instead be moved by the high and rising cost of the status quo. Failure to improve the situation will extract a large and rising charge on the public purse."

In short, what the aboriginal community is saying is that all efforts to assimilate us have failed, we are dispossessed, our economies are nonexistent. It is time to give us more responsibility and autonomy to develop our own solutions. We need to develop our economies, and when we are strong enough, we will be ready for integration on our own terms. What I am really saying is that because our inclusion has not worked, we need to be excluded to a degree, to gather our strength before we can attempt inclusion again.

And I should add a concluding remark that as the federal government of Canada — we talked about downloading; I still call it downloading, not offloading, downloading because we are down there.... You want to know where the bottom of the ladder is? That’s where we are, down there. Downloading of the federal government onto aboriginal communities and to municipalities, under the current conditions, is going to increase the cost to the cities and the aboriginal communities. And the problem will only get worse, not better.

So I look forward to the next years of looking at how we develop those solutions, how we implement that. We are well on our way to doing that, but will we get the support? Will we get the cooperation of the government? Because it is very hard to change the policy of assimilation and domination because it is based on a false theory: the theory of terra nullius: "these are empty lands." And in order to populate these lands, people had to show that there were no civilized people on this land, and were able to take the land. How do you define "civilization"? Well, you have to be Christian; you have to be like us. And you are not, so you don’t have that right, and we can take that land. And that attitude still is here today. It feeds into the stereotypes and the misconceptions about natives: that we could not look after ourselves; we could not look after the land, and we became trusts of a trustee that was there to annihilate us or assimilate us.

Thank you very much. I look forward to the discussion.

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

Thank you very much. I was always taught not to interrupt my elders, so I don’t, but I was also here when you made jokes about journalists, and the 30-second sound byte, which by the way is only 15 seconds.... I am supposed to be the moderator here, so I will now try to get things back to the timetable, because that is my job, so I will not try to do that.

One of the things I remember — we keep looking at the word "globalization" — I remember after the free trade debate that was held in 1988 and a decision was made through a general election, we were sitting around a camp fire one night with my father and we were thinking about ways now that this might be changed, because the opposition seemed to be substantial at that point. One of the things we came up with was to give the Americans the deal they want on trade, but we’ll give the native communities the deals they want on the Constitution, and then we’ll see if we can stay again. Just give it all to them: then we are not a country anymore and we don’t have to deal with the Americans....

It is interesting when you talk about cities, and their constitutional troubles and their financial troubles, and their relationships with the senior levels of government, which are very contentious, and cities often think they don’t have allies in this battle of badly defined constitutional terms and practices, but there are in fact allies out there, with very common agendas that, when you change some of the nouns and pronouns, and take a look at what is being asked for, you can find common ground.

Common ground is something which, at times, eludes other people in cities because of the unique circumstances in which they find themselves. Our next speaker has been someone who is very active in the community of people who either have HIV or AIDS impacting on their lives, and the needs that they have around acquiring resources and political sympathies, and public action on their issue. René Lavoie is a Montrealer, and will now join us at the podium to talk about the struggles that he has worked with in terms of his urban experience.

René Lavoie

Bonsoir. Je suis heureux d’être ici. J’étais surpris par comment l’environnement est très bon. I will talk in English. You will forgive me if I seem to have a few words that are bizarre or gross. They are mistakes, so try phonetically to find the proper word. I don’t have a job to do but I got a vague of nostalgie [wave of nostalgia] yesterday when I saw one of the young students — and I hope he doesn’t mind that I say this — with an ["archeous" — curvy?] bottom. And I have a quotation for him: "if I cannot dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution" — Ingmar Goldman.

First of all I want to thank the Couchiching Institute for inviting me here to do this presentation here tonight. I have a small introduction, I want to talk a bit about globalization, and make different comments about cities, and I am not really going to talk much about AIDS. However, I would like to mention from the beginning that I am not a specialist on globalization, nor on [local] government. I may have some comments on these subjects that I hope could be useful to the discussion following this presentation. My personal involvement in the last 20 years, has been as a militant around the gay community issue. [At the same time,] I was involved, in the early 70s and early 80s in youth programmes, like Canada World Youth, Katimavic.... By the mid 80s I began my involvement working in a hostel [for the homeless ?] in Montreal. In the 90s I concentrated my time professionally as an activist around AIDS issues.

I mentioned Canada World Youth and Katimavik because, as a group leader, part of my job was, through informal education, to [deal with] a variety of subjects. We would discuss issues like consumerism, ecology, the introduction of AIDS, agriculture, and so on. We were not talking about globalization but all the same, we were talking about practices that entrenched poverty in the reality of people. So the poverty war and l’industrie de la faim [hunger industry] became bigger, and probably the Small is Beautiful is still true. So, I started getting around to working on some of the ideas for this presentation. As I am not a specialist on globalization, I didn’t know, but I started working on globalization, and I had this great title, which I don’t think fits that much but I found it so good that I kept it. I call it: "God is an American, and I am an Atheist."

On globalization: since I have been invited here, I began to work towards this moment, which is now, and I began to pay more attention to any mention of globalization or anything close to it in the media. I read a few books, and I would like to thank the son of a good friend of mine; he passed [along to] me his book. He is in sociology; he is 22; and he was very good to bring me all these definitions about liberalism, neo-liberalism, and globalization to help me do this presentation. From the beginning — and I wanted to find: what is globalization? I ran into a syntax dilemma, in French at least, which was that some of the books called it "globalization" but another term was "mondialisation" and I was wondering if they were the same thing, if they differ, and if so, how? I finally, after having read a few of these books and articles, I think they are basically about the same thing. Except there is a small difference, which is measured from where I come from: culture. That seemed to be more present in the term "mondialisation." Basically, we are talking about exploitation — but we don’t want to use this word; it is not politically correct — and the necessary conditions to do so. So we are talking about power.

On the way here — and I was obsessed with this presentation — we stopped at the produce shop in Prince Edward County, in Picton. And there was this little ceramic mural, and I thought about the words — it sort of goes with Ingmar Goldman — so there were these other words that said: "nobody gives you power; you just have to take it." And this was on a bar that said that, and I was amazed. Today there was discussion, and I don’t understand, with all the official growth that we talk about so much, why the children of our cities are poorer, and why there are more homeless people in the streets of our cities? I feel that until now, we have talked more about the containers: the cities, and not enough about the contents: the people.

The paradox of the city-state. We have seen in the last decade the tendency toward municipal fusion [amalgamation], though this has been happening since the early 70s, at least in Quebec. It is interesting in terms of history, my small village, in 1972, [was amalgamated]. It caused Sullis, Estcourt, and Saint-Éleuthère to become Pohénégamook. 30 years later, people still affiliate themselves with the village from which they originated, and not with the new name of this small city.

What are we to think of this phenomenon of fusion? What link could it have with globalization? And I must say that the books which I have don’t talk that much about it. In some cases, it could bring a better distribution of wealth, but as cities are getting bigger, are we coming back to a modern version of the city-state of the Middle Ages? What would it look like? Generally, the discussion around this issue is always merely an economic one, but how can we ensure that in this new megacity, the normal citizen still has a place? On this premise, how can we ensure a voice for the most vulnerable?

The city is a place of protection, for different reasons for different people. It brings anonymity. It permits you to find others like you — this is surely true for gay men, and for a lot of cultural communities. It is a place of transition; it is a place for working; it is a place to study; and it’s a place where you move for various reasons. [There was a remark] this afternoon, which I think was very interesting, saying that we are not really a city-state in Canada because we really have some sort of rural mentality. And I think that is not so false, because the cities in Canada are very young. When I moved to Montreal in ’79, I rarely met someone from Montreal — I thought there were, I don’t know, they disappeared, kidnapped by UFOs — because all the people I met were from somewhere else in Quebec, moving into Montreal, and I think it’s true for many cities. I mean, where are there more people from Newfoundland? Toronto: they are not in St. John’s.

We have to keep a bit of humanity in this mega-structure. In thinking about it, I was going back to an old, but still valid, I think, approach to developing that kind of work. In the past we have worked with a structure like the "patchwork" in England, which are then "cents villes" or villages en centimes in Quebec, or the healthy city movement in Ontario in the 70s. In the cities, these structures tried to find a smaller common denominator to bring people together to help one another, these structures being based on identities, like gay or cultural, or geography, like boroughs and neighbourhoods.

During the fusion [amalgamation] of Montreal, there was a great deal of pressure to keep what was known in the city of Montreal as "les arrondissements" — which was borrowed from the French system. We like the French system very much. Even if the arrondissements are round, and in Montreal they are square, but we still call the square an arrondissement. This was political volunté [will] in keeping these [areas] in the municipality-to-become-amalgamated, as they would not completely lose their identity and their power. It was also in the [specific case of] Montreal to try to keep a bit of linguistic peace. But for the citizen, it was also a way to ensure a certain proximity to some of their services: libraries, parks, etc., but also to have representatives whom they could reach easily, at least in theory.

We have to remember that for many people, these structures are seen as complex and frightening. A few speakers have discussed the difficulty in involving citizens in local politics. It is, I think, a major problem at the local level, but as well on the provincial and federal levels. On Radio Canada, a few weeks ago I think it was, now, they were mentioning that as Canadians we should watch the transition of the run for the leadership of the Liberal party, because that will probably be more interesting than the next election, because we will know now who will be the next prime minister. Which I think is quite interesting that we can do those projections so much in advance. In the last election in Montreal, less than 50% of the people participated in the election, and I would say in Quebec, there is usually about — especially in the Referendum: 90% the last time — but usually for Montreal it is about 30% of the people when it comes to a vote, and it goes down to about 20% when it is time to elect people for the school boards.

But I would say it is not that bad. If the Americans can elect their president, who is running the world, with less than 50% of the vote and a majority of a few hundred people, so we don’t that much [kind of] precedent with our little thing in our little city. If the people whom I will call the "normal citizens" don’t care, how do you think the more marginalized citizen will be interested in politics? Often they are treated as if they were not citizens as all. When I work in my work, we work with male prostitutes and also with another organization called STELLA, for female prostitutes. In the discussions that were raging in the neighbourhood, that we were getting outright from the citizens, STELLA, which is a defence-rights group for prostitutes tried to say that prostitutes are citizens, are residents, and they have rights! And people didn’t think that was so true! So I think the rightness [rights-wing views?] of the [gentilshommesmiddle class?] is already a question.

A second issue with a link to citizen participation in local politics or with municipal politicians — on this one I am bad — is [the perception] of the importance of going to [participating in] municipal politics. And I thought — for example, I see M. Ducharme here, or Mme Hall — how is it [for] you, to be the mayor of a city, even of Toronto or Montreal, [trying to link] with a minister in the provincial government? How is that perceived as important? And if we answer that, I think it will tell us something about why cities are not perceived to be that primordial, whereas I think they play a principal role in politics in the province — even if I do like the idea of creating new provinces based on cities. Before the [amalgamation] of Montreal, the Quebec government had created a Ministry of the Metropolis, and the ministry gave the city of Montreal some money for some specific metropolitan issues: social issues like homelessness, prostitution, drug addiction; economic revitalization of specific boroughs; and issues around immigration. For the social issues, of which I am more aware because I happened to sit on some of these committees, there were questions about the ability of the city to effectively administer these projects. The joke was: if they cannot deal properly with garbage, how can they deal with health issues?

What I raise is the issue of, for megacities, that in some aspects the municipality does not have that much power. And maybe M. Ducharme can comment on this, because I am not a specialist to see the difference between the laws of Upper Canada and the law of Bas [Lower] Canada, but I think there is a difference. But there was this great issue that we were not used, in Montreal, to seeing the municipality involved in social issues.

The last issue that I will raise, is I think a prospective one and I want [use it to illustrate] a lesson that we all learned: I will talk about the AIDS epidemic in the cities. I think that we can look at the plague in the Middle Ages, at tuberculosis in the Industrial Age, and how it has played an important role in the cities. In Canada, the AIDS epidemic has concentrated in Quebec, Ontario, and BC. And in these provinces, there is a further concentration of cases in the three cities of Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, and we could even say that more specifically in these three cities, the epidemic followed the poverty sectors — I will say the poverty line — of these cities. This is partially true of Montreal and Vancouver, and I think, not that false of Toronto, and it is also so internationally. I finished an old job, and I did a lot of cleaning, and I found a lot of my archives, and I had this note of paper that I found from Pierre, Peter Piotte [sp?] at the 1989 AIDS conference in Montreal, where he noted that in Rwanda, the first nation-wide survey on AIDS study in the world revealed a startling picture: 20% of urban adults were infected in 1987. The figures also showed a much lower infection rate in the rural setting in Rwanda, a consistent finding in virtually all African countries, and that was about 2%. We can look at Europe, where you have this issue about AIDS transmission in the cities, and I think if you follow the route of transmission historically, in a geographic [formula ?] going down from the megapolis, you will find something that is present. I think that we have to take that into account. If a sickness like that, or an earthquake, or anything should come to the city, because of this mass population — I mean, you cannot move on Friday night, even when it is beautiful, on the 401 or 400 or whatever: imagine if you were stuck with a big problem on the ground. How are you going to get out of there? So the city has to be able to deal with these issues.

In Quebec, public health is not a city’s responsibility, but issues like alcohol permits and other permits are local responsibilities. Public security and the police are also municipal responsibilities, and often interfere with public health: I am talking about the repression of prostitution and drug issues — the difficulty of setting up an action programme in the cities, and how the policy can not be so useful in that. The city needs to work more closely on these issues with the responsible authorities, or, if they want to become a province, they have to better define the roles and responsibilities they are ready to assume in these issues.

Last, I would like to talk about the complexity of the issues facing us today. This word comes back to me all the time: "it’s so complex." I think complexity is also an excuse to sit on our ass — and I didn’t make a mistake — and to do nothing. It is often used as a non-empowering tool — or dis-empowering, I don’t know if it is good in English. I’ll give another, similar example in health — because that is the domain I am in... I am nearly finished. In the early 70s, we, Canada introduced the notion of a very avant-garde view on health: it is called "health promotion." It was simple. It meant empowering individual, empowering community work and influencing so you have a better delivery of health services and promote a supportive environment. It was basically five principles — I think I forgot one. Now, since the beginning of the 90s, there has been a "paradigm shift" towards "population health" which has 12 health determinants; it started with 10, it is now 12. We — I work on the gay national defence group, and we had a 13th one. And they are simple ones, you know, like: income, education, sex, culture, genetic and biological components — you know, what I was when I was born — work conditions, individual abilities. If you work in the community, and you want to tackle this, how can you build a programme with that complexity, with all the federal, provincial, local jurisdictions plus the different ministries? I started to look at that and say: "I want the education ministry in Quebec cooperating with me with Employment Canada, with the health resources, and I want to have culture in there and sexual identity in there, to make this beautiful program." I only thought about making a program with AIDS information on the Internet and trying to get the federal, provincial, and local to buy in, you know: 20,000 one, 20,000 one, 10,000 another one, but it could never fit into any of their programs. So I think it is very funny that the Canadian government, through their health ministry is promoting something that is just about unachievable because of the jurisdiction problems that there are in this country. And not to say, to badly criticize population health: it is a very good concept, and it is true that education, that health, that work conditions are influencing our reality, but it is also dis-empowering for organizations to think that we have to include all of that with all of the complexity that it means. And if there is a — what should I call that — a sponsor in the room ...

[some content lost as tape is turned over]

... the provincial, the local, the federal on one of these issues, I am ready to offer it as a [défi ?].

So I think that was some of the things that I wanted to share as some reflections. I am aware that I am very eclectic. I was not so clear on what I was presenting, and I think I would be more clear if it were on health, on the relation between public health and community groups, on drug access, and I have tried to work on that because with globalization, drug access, as an HIV-positive man who was in 1989 in the conference with other, African, HIV-positive men, and realizing that they are probably there because of non-access to drugs, and that I am here because I have access to drugs that I can use, is to me an issue that is very hard — that hurt. I think that we have, as Canadians, to be more human, and realize that these issues are very there, and sometimes they seem to be very abstract, but they have a great impact on our life and on the life of the people in this global world. So, I would like to end on this, and thank you very much for your attention.

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

My parents taught me never to interrupt someone who has travelled a long way to talk, so... but I haven’t forgotten the jokes about 30-second clips. I am under advisement, so we are talking to time here, right? At any rate, a couple of things immediately spring to mind in reference to that — first of all, I am not going to read from the bios, because it doesn’t relate to what you are here to talk about. So, that’s over with. But you raised the issue of the referendums and the turnouts in the referendums, and it brought back a funny, quick little joke. And since Ann Golden says that humour works, I’ll try it. I was in a bar in Toronto watching the referendum results one night, talking to a guy who happened to be from Quebec, and we were exchanging views on our particular histories and our political perspectives on the referendum as the results rolled in. And we had a great time getting drunker and drunker, and getting more deeply into the conversation about politics, and finally he said: "look, the vote’s over. It’s been a nice evening. What is your name?"

I said, "my name’s Adam," and he started to laugh. I looked at him and said: "what’s so funny about that? We’ve had a very nice evening, and now you are making fun of my name."

He said: "no, my name is Yves."

Which, I think in light of the recent Supreme Court decision around same-sex marriages, and as this government likes to talk about its goal to unite the two cultures, I think, you know: if Adam and Yves can’t get married, what are we talking about?

Nonetheless, our next guest — that was less than 30 seconds by the way — our next guest is Rima Berns McGown. She has a bio that is in your package. You can read that if you want. She is about to talk to you about what she wants to talk about.

Rima Berns McGown

Thanks very much. I want to speak to you about perspective. Perspective as it underlies understanding difference, and therefore the social inclusion of immigrants and minorities in an urban environment. For a writer and a researcher, this can be a prickly issue. Many of you will be aware of the debate that has raged over "voice appropriation," or who has the right to write about or comment on others in society. I would argue that it is imperative to allow ourselves to imagine ourselves in each others shoes, but that we have to be careful in how we do so.

The ground we stand upon, as researchers, as writers, as citizens or as policy makers, is fundamental to what we write, to how we research, to how we think of our neighbours or how we make policy that affects the communities we share. It’s the framework we use, the assumptions upon which our arguments rest, the foundation of our decisions. It informs the questions we ask, the voices we adopt, the stories we tell and the way we tell them.

The ground we stand upon is our perspective. When we take it upon ourselves to understand something as difficult as difference, it’s essential that the ground we stand upon be authentic. That ground must feel as honest and true to the subjects of our discourse as it does to ourselves. It is essential that the people or interests that we write about do not feel "othered" by our perspective, our language, or our attitude, regardless of what race or ethnicity "we" are; regardless of what race or ethnicity "they" are. Authentic ground allows us to think and speak from a perspective that is not tainted by an interest to perpetuate or maintain dominance. It is characterized by respect, by sensitivity, and perhaps even by humility. It understands that all peoples are equally deserving of respect — I am speaking here of peoples, not necessarily of all individuals or all ideas — and that if we dare to explore the interstices between cultures and between peoples in a way that requires us to tell the stories of other peoples as they impinge on us and as we impinge on them (again, whoever they are, whoever we are), the onus is on us to proceed with openness and with respect.

We are all, in one way or another, storytellers. Whether or not we view ourselves as such, and whether we proceed consciously or unconsciously, narrative is how we order our world and make sense of its events. Not only can our own lives be told as stories, but it is through narrative that we make sense of the world in which we live. Stories — the telling of stories and the ascribing of meaning to the events that make up our collective lives — are essential to our ability to construct both a sense of self and a communal sense, to develop a history and a culture


The American cultural critic, Bell Hooks calls the West "white supremacist, capitalist, and patriarchal." She is referring to its narrative ground, to the framework through which she believes the actions and writings of a black woman will be viewed and reviewed. She claims, moreover, that it is not only whites who accept this ground as given, but that black men and women, living under its influence for centuries and generations — excuse me; I am actually going to faint if I don’t sit down....

She claims, moreover, that it is not only whites who accept this ground as given, but that black men and women, living under its influence for centuries and generations, have internalised its code, she maintains, so they live and judge themselves and each other by a "colour caste system" that values lighter skin over dark.

In his book, Culture and Imperialism, Edward Said highlights how a colonial and imperial mentality continues to inform our reading of classic works of literature, and how it does so in such an insidious way that we do not explicitly recognize it, but rather hold it as something so normal that it does not bear comment. Stories are "at the heart of what explorers and novelists say about strange regions of the world," he writes. It is these stories that created the old stereotypical mind-pictures of primitive savages needful of, and grateful for, the civilization and culture of intrepid, enlightened, white conquerors. These images stick hard. They are transmitted in the books we read — think Kim, think Heart of Darkness (think Mel Lastman), think also Mansfield Park, where the proceeds of imperialism support luxurious lifestyles in Mother England, where it is axiomatic that the white characters are moved by attempts to "civilize" the non-white characters, to bring order to chaos and enlightenment to darkness.

Yet at the same time, the counter-stories are there to be told, with their counter-formulation of narrative ground. Stories that retell the history of events from different perspectives are critical to a people’s recovery from traumatic events. Bell Hooks describes admiring a documentary film she saw in Montreal about Jewish children whose parents had survived the concentration camps. She remembers talking with another black woman afterwards about "how it hurts us as aware black people to know that there has not been such documentation of the pain and suffering of black people and its debilitating effect on our lives."

Every citizen is responsible for building the narrative ground on which his or her society is based, and against which he or she conducts a life. And every intellectual — every thinker, researcher, writer and policy-maker — is responsible for the way in perspective is built and used. To stand in a place of integrity and on authentic ground is to take responsibility for one’s attitudes, one’s preconceptions, and one’s actions, the last not least. It involves a constant process of self-examination and a willingness to attempt to understand the world around one and then to decide, in the face of that always-changing understanding, how to act.

Let me give you an example of how I think it can be found and thought through. A few years ago, I published a book about how it is to live as a Muslim in the West. I wanted to begin to examine how people of different cultures live together without losing what they consider to be essential to their identity. The Muslims I spoke with were Somali. Somalis had not left their homeland in great numbers until they were forced to do so by civil war and the disintegration of civil society. When they did leave, they moved in significant numbers to many cities in the West, Toronto and London (England) among them. This was important to me because I wanted to know how the larger, receiving, society affected their integration. "The West" is of course no more of a monolith than is "Islam." Islam is really many Islams, depending upon exactly what people believe and how they practise it. Similarly, what exactly "the West" is and how people live in it is not the same in New York as it is in Toronto or London (or San Antonio or Saskatoon or St. Ives, for that matter). I wanted to know what kind of difference it made to move to one West or to another. It turned out that it made a great deal of difference.

I wanted to know how people would practise Islam in an environment that did not make it easy for them to take time off for Friday communal prayers. Somalia is a patriarchal society, even more patriarchal than the one Bell Hooks believes that we live in, and I wanted to know how integration was affected by a move to a society that upended traditional family structures.

Then, too, most Somalis in Somalia practised an extreme form of female circumcision. They did not do this because they were Muslim. Female circumcision is practised by many non-Muslims in that part of Africa, and most Muslims in the world do not countenance it. But conventional wisdom in Somalia held that a good Muslim woman was circumcised. What happened when Somalis encountered the revulsion — not to mention the criminal punishments — of the West?

There were other issues too. Throughout the Salman Rushdie controversy, freedom of expression was painted as the West’s sacred cow that Muslims apparently did not understand and could not accept. Without an unquestioned acceptance of freedom of expression, it was argued, how could Muslims integrate into the West, as they were attempting to do in larger and larger numbers, moving to the United States and Canada, to Western Europe, and to Australia and New Zealand. I wanted to know how Somalis, who had just arrived in their new homes, or who where still in Somalia when The Satanic Verses was published, reacted to these ideas and to the controversy.

Before I began my interviews, I had to ask myself what right; I had to intrude upon people’s lives and ask these questions. I was repeatedly told by experienced academics that I would run aground with my interviews, that no one would talk to me. But almost everyone I approached talked to me, far more openly than they expected to even once they had agreed to the interview. I don’t put this down to my skill as an interviewer. I think it is because each and every person asked me, "why do you want to know?" and, because my answer was founded on authentic ground, we could both set aside the barriers and discuss these issues of identity and discomfort.

What went into that authentic ground? Well, I could have got nowhere with these inquiries if I had not fundamentally respected the people I spoke to. These were people struggling to make their way. They had lost a home and a country. Frequently they had lost friends or relatives, sometimes brutally, sometimes in front of their own eyes. They were afraid of losing their children to an alien culture.

In Somalia, they had not thought in terms of colour and now they were made to see themselves as Black. In contrast to White. In Somalia they had not thought about what it meant to be Muslim, because virtually everybody was, and now they were forced to think about what it meant, being Muslim. Not being what everybody else was.

I had to begin by understanding something of what it meant to have these things happen to you. Not so as to pity them. Categorically not. Rather, to understand what they were coping with when they thought about how to be Muslim in this new place. Being Muslim was different here than it had been at home, because they could not take it for granted. So they re-imagined it, re-created what it meant and how they thought about it and, often, how they practised it.

That process of understanding is critical to the building of authentic ground because it underscores our common humanity. And it is this which is its essence.

Although as a woman, a mother, and a sexual being, I can imagine little worse than the forced circumcision of little girls, I had to understand that their mothers and grandmothers did not act out of a will to harm them. The terminology was difficult. "Circumcision" makes it sound as free of consequence as its male counterpart, which it obviously is not. But "female genital mutilation" or FGM made it sound like purposeful harm, which it is not, either. What I had to understand was the context in which it happened. Not to condone it, just to find the link, the common humanity. The link is that we all want to do the best by our daughters. In a traditional Somali society, that meant making sure that they were not going to be ostracized or shunned. It meant making sure they could marry and be accepted by the community of women.

And this is what is interesting: in the process of re-interpreting their own religion to themselves, and out of fear of losing their culture and their children, most Somali women became more religious than they had been at home. But they also became differently religious. They redefined their Islam. They read the Qur’an themselves. They began to interpret it for themselves. They realized, in doing so, that the circumcision of women was not mandated or even encouraged by Islam, and they were able to separate the concepts of "Good Muslim Woman" and circumcision, and to begin to discontinue the procedure. This is a process that has been occurring, incidentally, both in the Diaspora and in the homeland, as insights gained here have moved there.

On top of this, they began to be vocal about their own abilities to determine how to practise and what might constitute a "good" Muslim woman in the first place. They didn’t need any man, neither their husbands nor any other authoritative figures, to tell them how to think, what to do or how to do it. In the process, and as a sign of their independence of thought from the mainstream around them, many of them began to wear the hijab for the first time.

While much of this runs counter to conventional wisdom and conventional Western preconceptions, if one reaches down to touch that link, that common humanity, it is neither surprising nor counterintuitive.

The matter of Salman Rushdie, by the way, was not, by and large, about freedom of expression for them. It was about respect. Not respect for the Prophet, but respect for them as people, for their right to hold the Prophet holy in the same way that others hold Jesus holy. They did not defend the Ayatollah and most did not condemn Rushdie. They wanted to go back and re-examine the whole issue as a question of how, or whether, Muslims were respected, in Britain where the protests picked up the most storm, and elsewhere in the West.

And yes, there was a difference in trying to integrate in London and trying to integrate in Toronto, and it was not about racism. Racism exists in both places, more overtly in London, more covertly, more politely, in Toronto. What is the issue, however, is the difference in political culture: in Toronto, the notion that immigrants and minorities are not only legitimate members of the community, but that their perspective is essential, is increasingly widely accepted. In London, that is still something of an upstart idea. Britain, for most Britons, is still a white, Christian, would-be tolerant nation. This is a far cry from a nation that belongs to all of its citizens, regardless of their ethnicity or their religion.

There is a writer named Benedict Anderson who speaks eloquently of the "imagined communities" that we create, and continually recreate, on an ongoing basis. Toronto Somalis tended to feel that their imaginings were welcome, London Somalis less so.

And it is in its political culture that one finds the narrative ground of a city or a nation. For Edward Said, the West’s narrative is still grounded in imperialism. For Bell Hooks, it is still "white supremacist" and "patriarchal."

Even supposing that they are correct in their analyses, and that the stories of imperialism still dominate the way we see our world, let us look for a moment beyond the broad brush strokes, into the details. Where is the possibility for change? Where are the malleable places, the spaces where change begins and, if nurtured, may grow?

When Pico Iyer speaks enthusiastically about the possibilities he sees in Toronto for change and growth, as he does so eloquently in his book The Global Soul: Jet Lag, Shopping Malls, and the Search for Home, this is what he is talking about. Iyer’s Toronto is the one that my Somali respondents referred to. It is the opposite of a rigid, tradition-bound place. Rather, it is one without rules, or that is busy rewriting the rule book. Where it is okay to maintain bits of one’s ethnicity and chuck out the rest; where it is okay to celebrate whatever one feels is the essence of one’s identity; where it is okay to adopt the bits of other people’s cultures that make sense to one, and to call it all Canadian.

It is the "calling it all Canadian" part that makes Toronto perhaps unique, and that makes Toronto’s political culture amenable to the successful integration of immigrants and minorities. Because integration, as Roger was saying, is a two-way street: it implies as much change on the part of the receiving society as it does on the part of immigrants. Change will occur whether a polity is willing or not, but it occurs much more quickly and much more easily — and with happier results — when a polity is willing to change than when it is resistant to anything that smacks of the destruction of tradition.

Inclusion is fundamental to successful integration. When people are marginalized, they are unhappy and potentially dangerous. That is the single most important lesson of September 11. Marginalized people are not productive. They are not creative. They do not seek peaceful solutions to their problems. Marginalized people are disillusioned and apathetic at best; disillusioned and revolutionary at worst. No society can afford to encourage the growth of marginalization. It is in every society’s interest to give its members every opportunity to be included, to feel that they belong, to feel that they have a right to imagine and to affect the future of that society.

Furthermore, no society can encourage inclusion from a position of intolerance or even one that inadvertently excludes. Margaret Thatcher liked to say that "Britain is a tolerant, Christian nation." But it had the opposite effect from what she intended because its very definition excludes anyone who is not Christian. It is unworkable, and even dangerously short-sighted.

The world has been shrinking for a long time. Globalization, transnationalism, blah, blah, blah, the usual suspects — all of these things amount to the minimization of distance, both in terms of time and, more importantly, in people’s minds. Orientalism as Said first described it, with its picture of other places as exotic and dangerous, was a phenomenon that could only occur at a great distance, in space, in time, and in the imagination, from the lands and people pictured in this way. It is simply not possible to continue to hold Orientalist ideas with any credibility when the exotic is on your doorstep. It is impossible not to change the way you think about other places and the people who live there and move here (wherever "there" is; wherever "here" is).

Whole polities, and not just their intellectuals, not just their writers and researchers and thinkers and policy makers, must learn to think about authentic ground and how to find it. It strikes me that we all depend upon it. Thank you.

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

.... My parents gave me no advice on whether to hold someone who was about to faint, and make them talk to time or not, so I didn’t know what to do. So I had no guidance, but it was fascinating, so I decided to let her go. At any rate, we are about to actually do the most inclusive thing of all, which is to let you speak, and ask questions, and make points based on what you have heard here this evening. Before we take a quick, little break, I want to raise an issue that came to mind as we listened to all three speakers talk about the necessity, the advantages, the benefits, the difficulties of inclusion and integration, which I think is a much-needed word in the discussion, and the roles that cities play, and why cities are so good at doing it, perhaps, and what the benefit is. And I am always taken back to some of the referendums that were held around the Constitution, in particular the Charlottetown Accord. We always seem to focus on these things, and read them regionally around this country. We say the east/west split, or the Quebec/Ontario split, but we never really looked at them as urban/rural splits, and I think what is instructive for senior levels of government to look at when we look at this is that in the urban areas, the idea of change and accommodation, distinct societies, the need to establish [and] respect aboriginal rights within our constitutional frameworks, they were very pronounced in the urban areas. They were not pronounced as definitely in the rural areas. It is not to separate the two and say one is better than the other, but I think that what cities have shown is that when you live next door to difference, when you are used to accommodating change, because of the way cities function, you are not afraid of new ideas. I think that is one of the reasons why urban areas tend to have a national perspective that the regions of this country don’t, and I think it speaks one more as to why the title of this forum — Cities and Globalization — I think cities are able to deal with globalization differently than other parts of the countries precisely because the idea of dealing with the issues — like you just talked about, with Somali women — it is something we are used to talking about. We have a dialogue about that kind of change, and we have an international perspective as a result of that, and if we listen to the people that bring that perspective in its most definitive forms to our cities, we have the possibility of really moving forward with extraordinary change. And the change we are talking about in terms of reinventing our cities, many of the cities that function differently around the world have citizens in our cities right now, and we need to start that dialogue around cities, not just around some of the other social issues with these inhabitants. There were people from every city on the globe in the high school I went to: whether it was Rome or Istanbul, name your city. We need to start talking about how they ran their cities, how they run their cities. What works for their neighbourhoods, for their artists, for their business people. I think that the discussion we are about to have after the break perhaps can explore some of those ideas. So, stand up, take a break, walk off your dinner, and we’ll be back here in a few moments.

[Resumes after break]

Adam Vaughan [moderator] you are about to take your seats... For those of you who are used to me reading the news at 6:00 o’clock in Toronto, I do have some news for you today. Probably, being buried inside this place, you don’t know that Mike Harris took a break — this is a true story; this is actually the news; this is factual, which is a rarity for me — Mike Harris took a break from a golf game in North Bay today to comment on the fact that Joe Clark had stepped down and that the Tory leadership was available, and the Prime Minister’s job perhaps after that. He walked off the golf course to the media today and said that he wouldn’t be running until the two parties were united, and he thought that that was the work that needed to be done. He also said that "what if" questions can be put off until a later date, and he then quickly added that he was heartened by the response that he was receiving in the West. It’s a true story. I think it’s nice that retirement has obviously been very good to Mr. Harris: he has a heart now. That’s good. Another joke?

This is the part of the evening when we ask you to come forward and add your comment, not to that comment that I just made, but to what you heard before the break. The microphone is now available for questions or statements, one or the other. We have someone approaching to talk.

Gordon McIvor

Hi, my name is Gordon McIvor. I’d be interested in the panel’s take on what some new Canadians refer to as the difficulty of grasping covert racism, and the fact that Canadians, being so polite, are perhaps just as racist against First Nations, or perhaps the gay community, or different immigrant groups as anyone else in the world, but we are so polite that we just hide it a lot better and then talk about it behind closed doors.

Roger Obansawin

Before I comment, just to let people know, our company produces a newsletter, Anasazi, which analyzes government policies, aboriginal policies; it’s back on the table out there, as well as a paper from The Economist I was referring to on taxation exemption and economic development. So you can pick up copies out there afterwards.

That is a question that I get asked a lot, and it is tied to colonialism. It is really the way that Britain colonized not only Canada but a number of countries. The racism is hidden: they become your best friend, but underneath they are really out to take everything you’ve got. So they have been so good at doing that, that racism is still very much underneath there. So you never know where you stand with people, and it is not an honest relationship. To me, that is more destructive than the overt racism you can deal with. It has led to so many ruined lives. You see it in the residential school system: backlash and all of that. That is what I describe as covert racism: it is there; you cannot deal with it openly, and then you start blaming yourself in that process, and then they’ve got control over you.

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

I’m curious when you say that the British played out this colonialism in other places: my family is Australian, and I can tell you that the racism in Australia is pronouncedly different than the racism in Canada, yet it is the same colonial process. Perhaps it is a question best put to the far side of the panel, since you studied racism differently in Canada, differently in the United Kingdom, and how would you respond to that question?

Rima Berns McGown

It’s a really interesting question because the question is really, how deep is that covert racism? How deep-seated is it, and how widespread is it, and what would it take to shift it? My sense is that there is more than one thing going on here. That political culture, that sense that almost everybody on these shores, with the exception of native people, are immigrants, and what that means is that we all have a right to be an imagining part of society, [this sense] is very real. The covert racism is there as well, and these two things are clearly in conflict with one another, and I think it is through an uncovering of that covert racism, through talking about it and pointing it out for what it is, that somebody can come to terms with saying: "wait a minute; I didn’t think that I was being racist, but I guess I am."

I am not sure that I agree with Roger that it is worse than the overt kind. My sense is that the overt kind.... If you can imagine it along some form of continuum — and it probably doesn’t work that way — the overt kind is just grosser and worse, but before you can get to a place where there isn’t any, you are going to pass through this covert kind. That is not a very satisfactory answer, but at the same time I don’t know how to get at it, or how to root it out. I don’t think it is as widespread, for instance, as it is in the UK, and it coexists with this other thing which is very real and is very positive.

The other thing is that, what I find fascinating about Canada is that it is a nation that never did have founding myths in the same way that Britain has had them or the US has had them. The Free Trade debate was interesting for the way it almost forced us to stop defining ourselves negatively: "we are not Americans, we are not Canadians [British?] and to come up with ways of defining ourselves that felt positive and felt real. And one of those ways, one of the things that has become a defining myth for Canadians is that we are tolerant and that we are open. To some extent it is not true, always, but the fact that it is important to us to believe that it’s true, to me, means that it starts to translate into something real, and it starts over time to become real and to have currency. When that happens, then you have a process going on in which you can start to point out what is covert racism so that people who hadn’t even understood what it was can realize it for what it is and do something about it.

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

Do you have comments to add?

René Lavoie

My notion would be more along the lines that we are so polite sometimes that we don’t even admit that we are racist, that we are prejudiced and that some prejudices are structured in a different way. We don’t even allow ourselves to ask questions because we feel so uneasy about what it is that we block ourselves from establishing contact and communication. So let’s say that I might not be that at ease around a Moslem or a Black Canadian, but I am I at ease enough to be able to say that and to be able then to establish some form of truth [along the lines of]: we have to be able to understand one another. I think sometimes we want to be so good, so polite, and so open, that we don’t want to edit it. Sometimes we don’t know, and if we don’t know, we might have prejudices, and we don’t want to admit that. So, I think [we ought] to start with that, maybe bring a change that is more honest than saying, "no, everything is beautiful."

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

Another question from the audience.

[Unidentified Speaker]

I am going to drift a bit with this common question because I am trying to connect with all of you put together. A few of these things came up from my own research in St. Jamestown, and there were some very interesting statistics in The Star, a year ago; there was a special supplement on immigration. The question is also Toronto-centred because that is home for me now. In 1963, I think, just 6% of Toronto identified itself as a visible minority. In 2001, that figure moved to 53% of Toronto. The colour of this city has changed dramatically over the last 40 years, and it is anyone’s guess what it is going to be like 40 years from now. So, part of my question is: do we really know who we are before we embark on this debate of globalization and competitiveness — have we really recognized ourselves? This is brought up in Mike Davis’s book titled Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the US City, and he has some very telling statistics in that within the next five decades, Spanish will be the single largest language spoken in the USA, and the US English-centric media which dominates music, movies and the news and everything else hasn’t recognized the fact that its own demographic is going to undergo this massive shift both politically and in colour and in language and culturally as well. This is a question that doesn’t come up. We sort of treat cities as cities, and this whole other undercurrent that is moving at a rate far faster than any of us can imagine, because today’s paper has a statistic — sorry — has [name] speaking about immigration quotas being increased to 300,000 next year. Forty-nine or fifty percent of those people immigrate into Toronto. You are looking at 100,000 people at least every year, and in 10 years that is a million. That percentage of 53 will move to 75, and we are looking at a whole new city. To put that into context, the points you brought up of assimilation versus integration, the melting pot versus the mosaic and the natural comparison of America versus Canada and how we recognize our differences, and then your point of the container versus the content: is it the people within them or is it a sort of physical thing that we can design and plan and implement — which it isn’t? Planning is something that you can look at in retrospect but which never works out, as many forecasts as you might have. So, to summarize what I am trying to say: the city is in some ways a surface on which this narrative is written. It’s about generations, but these generations are also about race, about these differences that are constantly colouring it. I want your opinion on — I’ve lived in five cities as a resident over the last 12 years of my short existence, and so much has changed so fast. I like Toronto because it is different. Speakers in an earlier session said that on the one hand Toronto needs to be more competitive because it needs to be a bit like Chicago and a bit like New York and a bit like L.A. so that it can compete globally. On the other hand there are references to the fact that there are these gated communities in Chicago and there is crime and it is higher. What is wrong with us? Is there something really wrong with who we are as Canadians or as Torontonians? Because a lot of us or a lot of people make that choice because of its difference, because it is an also-ran or just another kind... In this cities and globalization, globalization can be taken as one term where everybody is trying to be equal, or morph into the same sort of competitive entity. Is there anything wrong with us being different, and recognizing our differences?

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

Shorter questions, please! I’m a journalist. I’m not allowed to ask long questions, so neither are you. But enough of that. Who wants to tackle that?

Roger Obansawin

The first question is: do we know who we are? The answer is, no. You don’t know your history in Canada, first of all. So you are trying to work out a sort of Canadian identity without having all the facts before you. And Canadians are going to struggle with their questions of identity until they resolve some basic questions. First of all, are we two founding nations? What about the 56 aboriginal nations across Canada? Where is it in our history books? It’s not even there. So to even find out who we are, whether you are in Canada or specifically in Toronto, where is the aboriginal history of Toronto? If you really want to know what this country is, look at that history, and look at how you can fit in. I believe that Toronto has the ingredients for the most inclusive city in the world, if it can only deal with those issues directly, because we have people from all over the world, and we have a lot of indigenous people here. So let’s stop hiding our history, which is really what it is. There is a lot of the history that has been hidden from you, and it is not a nice history. It is starting to come out in the courts. That is not the way to go. The Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal People should be required reading in schools. People have to know that, because I find it very difficult when people say, "well, what is it to be a Canadian?" Well, I know what it is, but a lot of native people say "well, we are not Canadian." There were Indians, there are Canadians, and that’s how they described it. And we were two nations..."

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

The question is centred around: does Toronto need to be different from other cities?

Roger Obansawin

Well, that’s what I’m saying: Toronto can be different, and can be stronger in its differences. That’s what I am talking about with integration, whether it is the native community or other communities: if we can take those components and keep what is best of those and work together, then Toronto will be different. And I think Toronto can show the world that it can happen, and it has to start right here.

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

Is that applicable to other Canadian cities, or is Toronto uniquely positioned?

Roger Obansawin

I think Toronto is uniquely positioned, yes. Just knowing the history... You are going to have some land claims coming up... You’ve got to start looking at that history. You’ve got to start looking at it. From all the cities I’ve been to, despite of all my negativity, I still see Toronto as more accepting. Just to give you an example...

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

We’ve got a resident of Montreal here; I’m sure he’d like to get in...

Roger Obansawin

Ok. Very briefly. When the Native Canadian Centre — I was director of the Native Canadian Centre for 25 years — when the Centre first started, there was a board of 50 people, 25 native, 25 non-native, and they worked together to establish the Native Centre, and eventually — and these were very influential people: the Eatons, the establishment of Toronto — and they provided that help, and then they stepped back and let us run our course. I would say the difference is that Montreal is still struggling with the French identity, and the aboriginal identity gets submerged in that.

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

Montreal. Do you think that Montreal has the capability of that inclusiveness, and does that allow Montreal to enter the world stage differently?

René Lavoie

I really have to say that Montreal is the best that there is in terms of.... That is not what I wanted to raise as an issue. I can try to think fast about it, but what I was thinking about from what you said, though, I would say that we didn’t talk very much about it here because we were talking about the metropolis. It is more the reality that will be in 20 years, of this multicultural presence in Toronto, and I would say in Montreal. If you go out to high school in Côte St-Luc, and there are six nationalities in this high school. But this is not a reality outside of these centres. I think [there is a big difference?] from the cities and the rest of Ontario or the rest of Quebec because the reality is very centred in the big cities. And even, depending on the immigration pattern, there will be, I would say, [a split between ?] the cultural realities. I would say that I would worry about that, but I think there needs to be some thinking about how the reality of the different cultures in the big cities will be interfering with the rest of the province. Even if the "Horseshoe" here is half of Ontario, there is still an other half.

[tape ends, some speech missing]

... in terms of culture outside the big centres is very minimal.

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

But if this country is the most urbanized country in the western world, perhaps anywhere — I don’t know how you measure but — if it is the most urbanized country in the world, and we are talking about how Montreal is different from the rest of the country, and Toronto is different from the rest of the country, and Vancouver has its own differences, if 80% of us live and breathe this diversity, and require inclusion and tolerance to function, then haven’t we already won the fight nationally?

René Lavoie

From what I have heard from the introduction, as much as 50 percent of Canadians live in Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver; so that’s half the country. I don’t what the percentage is, outside of these cites, of people from different cultures. Again, it is always bizarre, how, in that sense, that lots of people are included or not included. They should be included in that, for their own differences. In the west, there is a very strong demographic presence that is, for someone from the east, quite astonishing. As Canadians, I don’t think in that sense, that if you are from the far east, you don’t realize that reality in the west. So, I think there is — I would come back and say, yes, there is supposed to be that much [of the population in] cities, but I do have the feeling when I am travelling — and I have been to meetings in different cities, like Winnipeg, Edmonton — and I do not have the feeling that I am going to metropolis to metropolis; I really have the feeling that I am in rural cities, outside of the big centres. I would go back to the comment that was made this afternoon that although it is a country of big cities, perhaps because this is so new, it is still very rural in a sense.

Rima Berns McGown

Where Toronto is interesting — you talked about the rapid change in the composition of the city — and for all the covert racism that exists, it is astonishing to me how little rubbing there has been. We have had this massive change in the makeup of this city over 40 years, and yet, really, it has not been terribly, it has happened without an awful lot... If you look at elsewhere, if you compare Toronto with other cities where this change might have happened, it [conflict] has happened very little. And that is really heartening. The other thing that is fascinating: I said to Roger that it was fascinating to hear what he said because my view is that assimilation has never worked, and it is not just a question of native people. It has never, ever described what has happened to anybody, no matter whether they had white skins, if they were German immigrants and moved to Canada or the United States, they were not assimilated; they did integrate. Assimilation implies that somehow you emptied yourself of whatever you came with, and filled it with what was here. And that never happened! What happened always, in every case, is a kind of folding of what you came with, with what you found, and then what you created out of that. And it seemed, perhaps, more like assimilation when there weren’t visible differences, but I would argue it’s never what has happened, and integration is always a more descriptive term about what is happening. I think we cannot take for granted this question — I think that is why the whole issue of authentic ground is so important, and I think that is why it is not just a question for writers: it really is a question for everybody. It is a question of how you get at that covert racism as well. You’ve got to pull all this stuff up, and talk about everything that Roger has talked about, and bring it out into the light of day, and have good, strong, public discussions about it.

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

Interesting to note that Barbara Hall was talking this morning about how important the education system is to the health of the city, and I think it is important to note that most of the policies that have created that frictionless change — it’s not about Toronto changing; Toronto has changed — those were led by the Board of Education. It is those programs that are being stripped away from the Board of Education as rural governments take over and tell cities how to operate.

We have a long line of people, so I am going to poll all of you. I wasn’t trying to be snide with the last comment: we are going to try to ask short, sharp questions, and try to get short, sharp answers and try to facilitate the line-up.

Zaria Shaw

Est-ce que je devrais le donner en français, ou quieres que yo te hablo en Espagnol, or should I address you in English? I am Zaria Shaw, from the London School of Economics, and what I would like to say that I am half English and half East-German, so dislike me if you will, but I think from history — speaking of history — that perfection is unattainable, and therefore we must suffice with the best systems possible in place. Last week, across my desk, up north, five weeks at the Outward Bound, I read the most recent aboriginal magazine published. The author was in his early 20s and in the magazine there was an acknowledgement from aboriginal youth that they must in fact change their lifestyles, from what they eat, to what they do after work, to what their family life is. My second point is, why does it seem that when we talk about racism, all of a sudden it is only about the WASPs; the minute the discussion gets into multiculturalism, everybody and their cousin has something to say about Canada and about being a Canadian? I still live in my grandparents’ house, which was built in the same neighbourhood in 1934, and I am proud of that. Comment.

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

Do you want to go?

Roger Obansawin

Well, first, I’ll answer in terms of why do we address the WASP? It is not a matter of racism, it is a matter of control, and that is where the control has always seemed to be. So that is one of the problems, and that is how you strike out, as well. That’s a fact. The aboriginal youth of today are getting much stronger in terms of an understanding of their own cultures, and a more realistic view of what their culture and their traditions: who they are. They are much more confident, to start addressing some of those issues. And I think that is a good sign, and that’s going to make a big change. The final answer to the question goes back to a question before: I still say Toronto is different because I do travel to a lot of cities in Canada, and the racism that exists in those cities — towards aboriginal people, that’s what I see — that is very overt, and there is no question about it. Native people, they will go anywhere in Canada, and they will talk, especially in the western cities, they just can’t — they have to leave. They just can’t take it anymore. So it is there, but it doesn’t only come from the WASPs, so we have to learn to live with each other.

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

We are getting close to 10:00 o’clock, which is the cut-off time, so we are going to have questions directed to particular individuals on the panel now, and if you can be, again, brief.

Alan Pearson

I am Alan Pearson, I am with the International Children’s Institute. I’d like to have — I was going to say, I’d like to have the panel examine the ragged edge of inclusiveness. It seems to me that one example of globalization is refugee claimants. The mobility of people to turn up on Canada’s doorstep with no documentation, no pre-clearance, and claim that they cannot go back to their country of origin because of personal danger: it leaves Canada with the difficulty of judging the veracity of their claim. And it can leave Canada with the difficulty of having on its soil people who are not particularly interest in becoming Canadian. Picking up on the Somali experience, for example, I had never met people who had come to Canada before — when I met Somali mothers of children that we were working with there in Toronto — who said that they wanted the local school to preserve Somali culture: that their purpose for being in Canada was to preserve Somali culture until the moment when they could go back to Somalia and resume their lives. And so they were not interested in integration; they were interested in maintaining their differences, including female genital mutilation, for example. So what I would like to hear somebody on the panel talk about is: what are the limits of this two-way street of integration, from the point of view of the Canadian — whatever that word means — with respect to the necessary adaptation of newcomers to whatever it is we have here that we can call Canadian?

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

You spoke most directly to immigrant experience, so ... After this question, though, we are going to get all the questions, and then have summations because there is a very long line and very little time — a recent rule change, you have to respond quickly.

Rima Berns McGown

I’ll try to be really quick. I spoke to over 80 Somalis, so my sample is not huge, but included about 40 in each country. What was really galling to many Somalis was the idea that they encountered constantly, that people assumed that they would prefer to be in North America, in the West, to home. People automatically assumed that this was better, and that they saw it as better, and for them that was absolutely galling. It was warm at home, it was home at home, and it’s where they wanted to be. They didn’t come here because they thought — they came here because they had to. And so, many of them that I interviewed believed that they wanted to go back. That was the parents. But the kids hit the ground running, and they said: "wow, this is great," and after a couple of years, already the kids are integrating way faster than the moms and dads, and I encountered a number of people who said: "I came here with the idea that the moment it was safe for me to go, I would go. But now, I am having some trouble, because all of a sudden I have got family here, and some of them don’t want to go so much anymore, and the kids are definite that they don’t want to go..." So it wasn’t quite so clear that everybody was holding back.

Secondly, there were a number of people — there was one woman for instance, who is emblematic, a woman who said to me: "well," and English was her fourth language, or her fifth.... She lived in Toronto, and she said: "now I have to learn French." I said: "really?" She said: "of course I do. It’s my new country’s other language, I have to learn it." And I said: "That’s fascinating, because there are a lot of English...."

I think it is a fairly complex answer when you are talking about genuine refugees: people who really came because they absolutely had to, initially they have the idea that they would like to go back, but then...

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

Thank you. As I said, we’ll just take the questions in rapid fire and then we will have the summations that hopefully will address some of your issues.

[Unidentified Speaker]

I have a couple of comments I would just like to make: going back to covert and overt racism. I think the point that was missed here, and has been my experience in working 30 years as a non-aboriginal in aboriginal communities: overt racism is much, much greater in Canada than most Canadians would like to admit. Why it works so well, and why it was referred to earlier as a British system, because it works well, and it is also used very efficiently by our institutions, federal and provincial, as a means of control. They use overt racism on the minority groups, and I have seen it day in and day out with aboriginal communities, how government officials would control people they don’t respect and they don’t feel were equal to them, and they would do that in a very efficient way, and accomplish their means in the end. And that is the link to the British colonial system in my mind. Overt racism has always been better, to me, in my mind, because at least then you know who your enemy is, you know what the issues are, and you know how to fight back if you are the target of that.

The other comment I would like to make is that in cities such as Toronto — most of us have immigrant backgrounds; most of us I have heard here comment that Toronto isn’t working too badly — but if you have the same discussion on the route of Street Patrol in Toronto, and Street Patrol is the support vehicles that go out and every night feed and help the homeless, I don’t think they would be patting us on the back as much as we are here right now.

Sarah Tuite

Hi, I am Sarah Tuite, I am a recent university graduate, and an intern at National Public Relations. When we speak of inclusion, in theory, ideally we speak of encouraging marginalized peoples to exercise agency and voice, but history has proven time and again that as voices from the margins seek empowerment, they are more often than not perceived as threatening forces and in turn further marginalized. I guess my question is, today: how do we encourage marginalized peoples to approach this ideal of inclusion without perpetuating their marginalization?

Sheryl Stuart

My name is Sheryl Stuart, and my question I actually wrote down, so I’ll be disciplined — it’s actually quite similar to the question asked by Sarah.... A recurring theme of this conference has been the importance of public consultations as an essential element of change in government, and certainly a reality in cities, so how do we create interchange with citizenry, and more vital to our discussion about social inclusion, can you share with us some experience or insight into how officials can filter this information through publics consultations so that we can bring a voice to the marginalized?

[Unidentified Speaker]

I think the future lies with people like my children, who are interracial, and do not claim any particular nationality or anything else like that, other than being Canadian. How do you view interraciality?

Ahjung Lee

My question is related to the last one. My name is Ahjung, and I am a student at the University of Toronto. Within the immigrant community there is a tension between generations and conflicting values and cultures. My background is Korean, and I see that between first-generation Koreans and second-generation Koreans, there is enormous tension. While first-generation [Koreans] are desperately trying to retain their culture and also educate their children, at the level of second-generation Koreans, its... all the things about Korea seem quite alien to us, from time to time. So, when you have this kind of tension between generations, and talking of inclusiveness, as a society, and as well as the good of retaining our distinctiveness and so on: [as concerns] the public education system, what do you think about this challenge in terms of retaining and encouraging distinctiveness and also these generation issues where, as the previous person said, people just want to be Canadians. For example, heritage week in public school systems: so many second-generation Koreans said they felt uncomfortable in going up there and presenting how different they are, because they are born here, and they are Canadian, and they don’t even speak Korean.... So what do you do with those kind of challenges and issues?

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

Thank you. This will be the last question from the audience.

Joe Breng [sp?]

My name is Joe Breng [sp?]. I am a reporter with the National Post and I saw the chance to ask the last question of the night, so I jumped at it.

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

You’re a journalist, so I expect short and sharp.

Joe Breng [sp?]

One of the key things we’ve heard that sets integration apart from assimilation is a matter of give an take, and a change on the part of the wider culture into which a group integrates themselves. And we’ve heard a call for an aboriginal economy that has much more autonomy and, as I read it, almost a seclusion from the wider economy in the country. So, two things. One, what industries will drive this economy and help it to prosper and grow, and what are the major obstacles that need to be changed in this give-and-take integration in the wider economy?

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

So, well summarize with those questions in mind. I’ll give the panelists a couple of seconds to collect their thoughts, because we have a lot of different questions, covering a lot of different issues, and when I get a nod from one of them that they are ready, they can go.... We’re off!

René Lavoie

I just had a small thing on the notion of — from two questions past — about the voice of the marginalized, and how to help them. I would say, sometimes, you have to leave space for people to take voice. Very often, what we do is we talk for them. And I think we have, sometimes, to say, let’s listen to what people have to say, let’s make space for them to talk, and they will talk. They will say what they have to say. Sometimes it will be, maybe, long, but if not it will be very artificial. Very often, people are ready, but there is no opportunity. I am sure, on this issue tonight, there would have been, as compared to me, because we talked a lot about immigration, people who are more qualified than me to talk. I don’t know, maybe we should have gotten them here, and maybe there are quite a few of them. Sometimes it’s a question of letting people talk, and giving them space to talk.

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

Who wants to talk next?

Roger Obansawin

Let me touch on the issue of interraciality, and make sure I understand the question right. Certainly, interraciality is a fact of life, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. Cultures evolve, they change, they are not static: part of them will become interracial, and when I look at it from a native perspective, I think native people are really much more accepting of different races and mixing races, and in fact, there were wars, and some prisoners taken and they lived in the aboriginal community, and when they had a chance to go back home, they didn’t want to. So there’s a lot of interaction because they learned to live the way they liked to live. So it’s not all one way. It can work both ways. So it’s not a question of being against interraciality.

Rima Berns McGown

I think the more interracial couples and kids there are, the sooner these questions become moot: it’s the best thing that can happen. I think it is really important — in terms of the overt racism in Toronto not being — it is important to understand this is not a question of saying that Toronto is perfect, and there’s nothing to.... Yes, there is overt racism in Canada. Of course there is. I was speaking comparatively. The reason that it’s worth getting beneath the surface is to find out where the opportunities are: where is something good starting to happen, and what should be encouraged. Not to say that the bad stuff doesn’t happen in Toronto, that’s not the issue.

Part of the process of integration, and it occurs inter-generationally... If you imagine that somebody who moves to Canada from somewhere else brings what they were, what they experienced, what their framework was for living with them, and then, when they are here, they encounter a whole set of new things, and they fold them together in a way that seems right for themselves. Their kids are going to go through that whole process one step removed. It’s a process that is going to work itself out. My sense, in talking to people, is that they were far more likely to feel a part of Canada, if they felt free to be who they were themselves. When I started out the process, I remember interviewing an imam who was not Somali. He was African-Caribbean. He said that it was a fascinating thing with these Somali kids: they have completely upended the Muslim community in Toronto because, before they came, the kids would go to school, and there was nowhere to pray, and, what could they do about it.... They never.... But the Somali kids came, and they said: "Okay, we’re here and it’s lunchtime: we want a prayer room." The school administrator said: "Well, we don’t have a prayer room." So they said: "That’s fine, we’ll pray in the hall." So, the next day there was a prayer room. The point is that they were so strongly sure of who they were. And because they were so sure of who they were, they found it easier to, in this fellow’s view, to find themselves a place, and from there, to make themselves Canadian.

I think it is important, when you are in the schools, not to force kids to be more "ethnic" than they feel. It is really important to allow them to define where that level is for them: where they feel comfortable, and to have them understand that to be Canadian is to have all these different combinations. Did I leave anything out?

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

Thank you. So this brings to a conclusion...

Roger Obansawin

Can I answer a question? There was also the first question, which, because we were going on to the other ones, I missed, but the question on aboriginal autonomy and less inclusion. You have to remember that native people had economies, and that those were taken away, and replaced with hand-outs. What destroyed the aboriginal communities was replacing a vibrant economy with a system of annuities, and within one year, those communities were destroyed. Now, we try to recapture that. So now we are 150 years behind, so as we try to reestablish those economies, there are many things going against us. Whether it is in Vern Church, or anywhere else, the expectation is that native people should not be competing, and if you do compete in what they call the "commercial mainstream" then you shouldn’t have any rights: you have to be traditional. So they look at us as if we were living in the past. Well, we are not living in the past any more. We want part of that economy, and what is rightfully ours. To do that, we have to go back into our communities, and we have to start developing ourselves on an economic basis. And that’s where it is seen as autonomy, but it works. It is working in the United States, and it can work in Canada, and it will work much better. In the long run, there will be more inclusion, because we have some catching up to do. The argument that comes back to me from the Flannigan and on down is: "Indians should be equal to all Canadians." And I agree! We should be equal in health, equal in education, equal in economic benefits: we should have that equality. So, there is a distorted sense of equality when that is told to me: that we have special rights, and therefore we are not equal. It’s not that we are not equal because we have special rights; it’s that we are not equal because all of that has been taken away from us. And that is what has to be restored, and to do that, you have to make the extra effort to allow the community to grow in that way.

Adam Vaughan [moderator]

I can’t help but make closing comments, because I am supposed to, so I’ll try to make a couple of quick ones. One of things that underlies this discussion is a respect for culture. Culture as a language, as art, culture as a way of conducting one’s economic affairs, all the different meanings of culture. But culture seems to be a link that all three of you talked about tonight: the necessity to tolerate, to include, to evolve our cultures collectively as Canadians, and to do that in a lot of different ways. But the other component that keeps coming up in all of this as well is education, and the need to constantly explore these sorts of ideas: whether it is in the school where Somali kids land and demand space, or whether it is in the need for educational opportunities within the native community, and the right to control and run your schools the way that you need to have them run. If you link that back to discussions that were had earlier in the day today: the things that are required in a city to be globally competitive, they revolve around education a lot of the time, and the necessity to have an innovative and creative and well-applied workforce, and to take on the world with the advantages that cities in this country have. I am taken back to a story from a school in Toronto. I often tell this story, and it combines these ideas, and also sets the stage, I think, for interesting opportunities in the future. It is a school called Orde Street Public School. It is just behind the old Hydro building near Queen’s Park, and it is a school which is in a neighbourhood which is predominately Chinese, but also has a lot of professionals that visit the neighbourhood and have kids in the school. As a result of that, like any Toronto school, you’ve got a mix of kids. You’ve got one group that seems to take hold in the neighbourhood, but you’ve got this mix demanding, among other things, French immersion. In this school, they celebrate Chinese New Years. And they do it in French immersion class as part of the school assembly. And a number of kids who happen to be in this school are of Jamaican origin, and they are taking French. So, you’ve got a kid whose parents are Jamaican, and may be Jamaican himself, in terms of birth, but is not living in Toronto, and an active student, in a French immersion class, doing something for Chinese New Years. What came out of that actual experience, was a Reggae tune, sung in French, about Chinese New Years.

That, is your Canadian culture. It is only possible in a city like Toronto, that is honest to its roots as an inclusive society, and instead of trying to highlight the differences, combines the differences to make something that is truly unique and different. That is an educational process: it is a fundamental part of what the Toronto Board used to be involved in. But if you take it to the next step up, and Lorraine Segato is in the audience, and she can perhaps talk to this tomorrow — what they actually created is a commodity, in the most crass sense of the word. That song, which you have just now heard about, is easily accessible if you start to put it on the Internet or produce it, or get the arts funding in place that makes it something that can be experienced by people outside of Toronto. That’s the way immigration, progressive social policy, intelligent educational policy, dynamic multiculturalism, inclusiveness, and an honesty about who we are and what we can be together, can change the way we compete globally, and can also change the way the world deals with globalization. It is not something to be feared: it is something to be experimented with. I think that the importance of having this discussion in the context of cities and globalization, is that our cities, as has been correctly pointed out, have changed, and that change has provided a wonderful opportunity for all of us, if you simply experiment with it rather than try to limit its possibilities.

And on that, I am just going to tell one last joke because Ann Golden said that jokes work. This joke dates back to the mid 90s, and the joke is: how many provincial politicians does it take to screw in a light bulb? The answer is: none, it’s been downloaded to the cities. But you see, since that joke was told, I think a couple of other things have happened that should be added to that. The federal government that used to provide a crown corporation to manufacture the light bulbs has gone by the wayside, and at the same time, the province has privatized the power company so turning on a light bulb has become more expensive, and in the City of Toronto particularly, the mayor, who every time he goes to Florida leaves the lights on in his office to make it look like he’s still working, and that’s driving up the cost for all of us. So, something to consider. Have a good night.