Officials at two Sikh temples have asked city council for bilingual signs in their areas
By Daybreak North, CBC News Posted: May 27, 2015 8:35 AM PT Last Updated: May 27, 2015 8:35 AM PT
Earlier this year, I was doing the dishes when a documentary on TV caught my eye.
Twin Sisters by Norwegian filmmaker Mona Friis Bertheussen detailed the tales of two girls — identical twins — who were adopted from China by two families, one in Sacramento, Calif., the other in a small village in Norway.
The film is beautifully made, highlighting the girls’ innate connection to one another despite growing up in vastly different environments and cultures. It touched on issues of identity for internationally adopted children — something that would strike a chord with countless immigrant children whose parents’ culture varies drastically from the mainstream that shaped their childhood.
According to Statistics Canada, almost 21,000 children were adopted from abroad by Canadians 1999 to 2009, including 8,000 from China.
A week ago, the Chinese Consulate hosted International Children’s Day celebrations at the Chinese Cultural Centre in Vancouver. The event drew about 20 B.C. families with children adopted from China.
Officials describe these families as an important bridge between cultures, a sign of the growing person-to-person interaction between Canada and the Far East. Several parents explained how they had to “stretch” outside of their usual comfort zone and learn more about another culture for the sake of their children
“Our families are the symbols for the link between China and Canada, and we hope that these children continue to serve as a link to help other Canadians learn more about China,” Eamon Duffy said at the event. He is co-chair of the group Families with Children from China.
The marriage of cultures present challenges that parents and children both readily admit to.
“I remember, when Wednesdays would come around and it was time to go to Mandarin class, I would hide, pretend to be sick,” recounted Maia Robinson, 19, who had taken Chinese language classes since age 5. “I spent a lot of time studying Mandarin, and I remember I used to always resent it.”
Maia and her sister Cleone, 17, were adopted from China when they were infants. The family lives in West Vancouver.
A Traditional Chinese medicine shop in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Last week, customs officials seized 213 bear paws that were hidden hidden inside the tires of a van. The culprits were two Russian men looking to cash in on their medicinal value in China. Their horrific display of wares had an estimated street value of about 570,000 Canadian dollars.
While particularly disquieting, the scene is not an entirely unfamiliar one here in the West.
And earlier this year, at the 5 Tastes Chinese Bistro in the Vancouver’s UBC Village, firefighters found a black bear paw inside one of the restaurant’s refrigerators after responding to a call.
In various parts of Asia, bear paws are fashioned into a soup that can cost as much as $1000 a bowl, a sum that is won for the dish’s exoticism and purported health benefits. The practice has an even more grisly underbelly: in some places, it has been reported that live bears were lowered onto hot coals until their paws were sufficiently cooked.
But it’s not just bears. Other animal parts are as equally prized by smugglers.
In October, officials confiscated 1007 live turtles from a man looking to board a flight to board a flight to Shanghai. This came just weeks after another man was arrested at the Detroit-Windsor border with 51 live turtles hidden in his pants.
A provincial government plan to fund scholarships for Asian public school and post-secondary students to study in B.C. is facing sharp criticism from education officials and student groups.
During a news conference with Vancouver’s Chinese-language media on Friday, Education Minister Peter Fassbender announced the province will offer 120 students from China, Japan and South Korea scholarships of $1,250 a year to study in B.C.
The international students must still pay the rest of the high fees to study in Canada, so the scholarships would only alleviate some of their costs.
But a spokesman for the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) said there are many local students from low-income families who would benefit greatly from such funding.
“We often talk to students who are not able to go to post-secondary (schools) right away because of the cost. In many cases, when they do get into school, they get in late, and they struggle with balancing work and school,” said Simka Marshall, chair of CFS-BC, noting the average B.C. post-secondary students graduate with $27,000 in debt. “It’s very common these days. The (student) debt level here is very bad.”
Canadian doctors petitioned Irish rock star Bono to use a meeting with Stephen Harper to speak on behalf of refugees in Canada whose health care has been cut by the Conservative government.
In an open letter to the U2 front man and anti-poverty activist, who met privately on Monday with the Prime Minister and opposition leaders, three co-founders of the group Canadian Doctors for Refugee Care (CDRC) say many refugees are going without necessary care as a result of the government’s three-year-old decision to remove their health benefits.
U2 performed in concert in Montreal over the weekend, and Bono took a side trip to Ottawa to talk with Mr. Harper about international aid for maternal and child care – an issue the Prime Minister has said is close to his heart and for which the Canadian government has pledged $3.5-billion over five years.
“At the time of your meeting with Prime Minister Harper to discuss maternal and child health care in developing countries, the CDRC will be holding its fourth national day of action with events in 20 cities calling on the Prime Minister to restore health services to pregnant women and children refugees in this country,” the doctors wrote. “We respectfully encourage you to raise these issues in your meeting with Prime Minister Harper.”
Bono did not stop to talk with reporters when his closed-door talks with the politicians ended, so it is not known how he responded to the request.
In 2012, the Conservative government eliminated all medical coverage for some asylum seekers and cut the supplemental benefits – including payments for prescription drugs and vision care – of many others. Doctors said at that time the cuts left vulnerable refugees without care.
Last year, a Federal Court judge struck down the Conservative changes to the refugees’ health benefits, saying they violated the provisions of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that forbid cruel and unusual treatment or punishment. The judge gave the government four months to reinstate the program.
By Daybreak North, CBC News Posted: May 27, 2015 8:35 AM PT Last Updated: May 27, 2015 8:35 AM PT
Prince George city council is moving forward with two requests to add Punjabi to some signs in the city. The requests came from officials at Guru Gobind Singh Temple and Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh Temple who say their buildings can be tricky to find, especially for native Punjabi speakers.
“We think we need signs in Punjabi and English because we’ve got community living here, lots of people (who do) not read English,” said Pal Bassi, secretary with the Guru Nanak Darbar Sikh Society.
If the proposals move forward after city staff reviews the associated costs, signs on Highway 97 North and South, Highway 16 West, Ospika Boulevard, and Davis Road, all in the vicinity of the two temples, would have Punjabi added to the existing English.
“If (people) go by, they don’t know about the Sikh temple, if they see the sign they can come if they need food, a cup of tea, or overnight, we can arrange something,” said Narinder Singh Pawar, president of the Guru Gobin Singh Temple Association.
Prince George mayor Lyn Hall supports the idea of multi-lingual signs and said they would be reflective of the growing cultural diversity in Prince George.
“I see it as a big opportunity … we just need to look around and see how multicultural we are,” Hall said.
Prince George city staff will report back to council with the cost of adding Punjabi to the streets signs at an upcoming meeting.
with files from Audrey Mackinnon and Andrew Kurjata
The new requirements for Canadian Citizenship have been in force since June 11, 2015.
One of the most important changes is the requirement that an individual must now be physically in Canada for 4 years over a 6-year period. The old rule was physical presence in Canada for 3 years out of a 4-year period.
To quote the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Chris Alexander, “We are eliminating long backlogs, and streamlining our own processes. At the same time, we are ensuring Canadian citizenship is highly valued and stays that way. Promise made, promise kept when it comes to strengthening the value of Canadian citizenship.”
The requirement for maintain permanent residence in Canada remains unchanged at 2 years in a 5 year period. The fee for renewal of PR status remains unchanged at $50 for an adult application. There is still a requirement for having a valid Permanent Residence Card if you want to be re-admitted into Canada.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada is cracking down on this provision and many who do not meet this condition of two years in Canada are having their PR Status revoked and being sent to the Immigration Appeal Division for a hearing before final removal of PR status and removal from Canada.
Beginning on June 11, 2015, CIC will only accept the new application forms. Applications that were received on or after June 11, 2015 that do not use the latest version of the application will be considered incomplete and will be returned. Incomplete applications that were returned prior to June 11, 2015 must be resubmitted using the new application forms.