Dozens of people from Richmond’s Chinese-speaking community gathered online Tuesday via Zoom to discuss the definition of mainstream society and the beauty of being part of mainstream society.
Xiaoping Li, a professor in the Sociology department at Okanagan College, was invited to give a lecture to the online audience.
Ally Wong, the event organizer, said the discussion was aimed at inspiring more immigrants to take a break from their everyday life to pause, rethink and reflect and ask themselves: why is social integration essential for Canada, which is rated as the best country in the world for welcoming immigrants.
“As professor Li mentioned earlier in the speech, being part of Canadian society includes many steps, such as learning the language, contributing to the local community, and participating in the election,” said Wang.
“We always label ourselves as the ‘minorities.’ But, sometimes we are the ones isolating ourselves from the mainstream society by not getting involved in any political and social events.”
Li, meanwhile, said there are many indicators to measure if an immigrant population fits nicely into the Canadian society, such as annual income, employment opportunities and the voter turnout in different elections.
“Other indicators of social integration include language proficiency, which means being able to communicate in either of the official languages, and adopting Canadian values,” said Li, adding that she also understands it takes some time for people to adapt and change.
“Meanwhile, giving back to the local society is extremely significant because it can help you extend social networks, build trust with more people outside of your friend circles and eventually build a more cohesive society.”
One of the audience members, Kevin Zhuang, an engineer, said that the idea of social integration is a bit similar to his job responsibility - he is required to source the best materials in town and combine them to ensure that the machine can perform well.
“For me, the machine integration process is like understanding and accepting different cultures when we immigrate to Canada,” said Zhuang.
“Just like the best machine is always made up of different parts, we might speak different languages and grow up in different environments, but we are amazing as a whole.”