By Promod Puri
Despite its global image of being a tolerant society, racism, and bias towards major ethnic communities are still the rooted aspects of Canada.
Added to that, ethnic communities also have mindset racist sentiments among themselves. Moreover, some or most of them exercise bigotry and dislike within their own group.
A recent poll by Forum Research reveals the “unfavorable feelings” toward both religious and cultural minorities existing not only among the people but among the voters of all the three national political parties as well.
The poll says 41 percent of Canadians do not feel favorable about at least one of the ethnic communities namely: Muslims, Native Canadians, South Asians, most other Asians, and black people.
Of all the provinces Quebec leads the data with 57 percent respondents feel unfavorable toward at least one of the groups. The trend continues with 45 percent in Alberta, 39 percent in Atlantic Canada, 35 percent in British Columbia, and 33 percent each in Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan respectively.
The political parties may present a secular and non-racial face, but voters committed with them are embedded in racial and religious biases of unfavorability. As expected, 55 percent of the Conservative Party voters feel unfavorable toward at least one of the ethnic groups. Bloc Quebecois voters closely follow Conservatives. Among the Liberal, New Democratic Party, and the Green Party voters, the unfavorable sensitivity figures are 33, 30 and 31 percent respectively.
But the story does not end here.
There exists unfavorable feelings and racial prejudices among the ethnic and religious minorities also. Unfortunately, so far, no poll has ever been conducted to gather some statistical information about this aspect of the Canadian society.
Hatred and ill-will toward Muslims, First Nation Canadians, Chinese, South Asians, Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus by each of these groups against at least one of them are the little-known realities in Canada.
For example, members of one or more groups of ethnic communities explicitly expressed their dislike to allow the arrival of Muslim refugees from Syria last year. Anti-Muslim sentiment and fanaticism were the contributing factors of intolerance against the refugee and fellow new immigrants.
And then there is an ongoing racist culture against the Native people by most other ethnic groups. There is an occasional feel of racial biases by Chinese, South Asians, and other ethnic communities from Asia and Latin America against each other.
Within the South Asian communities, racial biases are an open chapter.
Fanatical aversion and dislike exist among Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims in the South Asian communities despite the fact they share same languages and cultures. For example, during the recent presidential campaign in the US, many Hindus admired Donald Trump mainly because of his declared anti-Muslim stand.
Anti-Muslim, anti-Sikh and anti-Hindu feelings among the South Asian communities can often be observed among themselves. And within the Canadian Hindu society centuries-old caste system has been part of its custom and tradition which is nothing else but the institutional practice of racism by the upper castes against the lower castes.
The racial pattern in Canada is not only white versus black or brown, or one religious or cultural group against the other but among the groups as well. Moreover, the racist culture is very much live within a single group.
The multicultural mosaic of Canada is blighted with racist marks contributed by Canadians of all colors and creeds, including the ethnic communities.
(Promod Puri is a Vancouver based journalist and author of Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs And Traditions).