Letter: Painting smiles on Richmond's culture clash

Dear Editor,

As a citizen of Richmond, I’m blessed to deal with multiple ethnicities in my daily life; in shopping situations, health care, home area, and I’ve always taken the attitude a smile works best and a pleasant demeanor, even when some people don’t reciprocate.

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Once in a long line, behind a woman who was letting her kids run wild, the cashier commented to me: “You’re so poised,” after being jostled by said family: clearly rich, new Canadians.

I joked to the cashier: “It’s all an act, to keep the top of my head from blowing off.”

Basically, if you can’t change the way people behave, you can change your reaction to it.

That said, I personally would like to know exactly why companies advertising in town, and not using English signage, do so.

Is it partaking in blatant disinclusion of non-Asians, purposely not wanting non-Asians in your establishments or some other reason? Tell me, I want to know.

Do these businesses not understand that by perpetuating this practice, they themselves are guilty of a form of racism?

It’s difficult to keep a good demeanor about that or a smile, when I walk into an Asian-run business and I’m not waited on, ignored or told “there’s nothing here you’d like.”

(Community activist) Kerry Starchuk is slyly vilified for standing up for the laws of the land:  signage should include English/French, while council talks about enforcing that or setting down clear bylaws to stop the controversy.

I try to treat every culture I encounter with dignity and respect, but how many voices have to stand up and say: “This is Canada, we’re supposed to be a melting pot. People who come here are expected to integrate, not just keep to their own and scorn everyone else.”

If I opened a store and put up a sign, “you can only come in here, or be welcomed, if you speak Gaelic or German” (my ethnicity) oh boy, wouldn’t the fur fly?  I’d be called racist, right?

So, how is a bus stop sign in an unofficial Canadian language or all-Mandarin business signage any different?

Thank you to all the immigrants past and present who came to Richmond, participated in our multicultural way of life, but also hired at least one English-speaking employee until they learned the language themselves. I salute you!

All immigrants came from somewhere, maybe escaped some oppressive force, but I sure never expected to feel oppressed in my own community. I sort of do lately.

Sheila Rathburn


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