Sheltered from the storms

In a world where most countries are clamping down on migrants or kicking foreigners out, I’m happy to live in Canada, a land that takes all comers. Economically, there are good reasons; we get workers who pay into the Canada Pension Plan so it doesn’t go bust. Morally, there are better reasons; who are we to keep anyone out? We’re all immigrants here. My father came with his family when he was three. On my mother’s side, I’m fifth generation Canadian.

These days, Toronto is certainly changed from the burg I visited as a boy to see my grandparents. Today, more than half the people who live in Toronto were born in another country. Sometimes, when I’m riding the subway, I’m the only white guy on the car.

You only have to read the names of the 2018 graduates of the Chartered Professional Accountants program to get a sense of what’s happening. Traditional British names are in short supply. On four newspaper pages of grads there are two Russells, two Reeds, two Jones, nine Smiths, and four Murphys. But there are fourteen Patels, twenty-one Lees, ten Khans, twenty-two Wangs and thirty-three Zhangs.

And the next generation fits right in. I recently watched five teenaged girls in hijabs who could have been any race, creed, or colour as they laughed, joshed with boys, and generally misbehaved. I only hope none of these recent arrivals follow the habits of one purebred Canadian family I saw at breakfast in a restaurant last week. A father was with his three bairns, the oldest was maybe seven, the next was four, and there was a baby old enough to sit up and feed herself. All the kids were watching tablets, two with headsets. No one talked to anyone. Let’s hope our immigrants don’t fit in that well. Better to hear their hopes and dreams than just see the tops of their heads.

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