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Second Class Citizen

Second Class Citizen

Old Jun 13th 2019, 3:00 pm
  #1  
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Default Second Class Citizen

So I’ve been thinking about this for awhile but reluctant to ask but...does anyone else feel like a second class citizen in Canada? I hear all about this famous welcoming, inclusive, meritocratic society here but the longer I stay the more I think that Canada just talks a good game but is just politely dishonest/ full of crap. I see examples all the time at work where if you express an independent opinion or go against the grain in any way then if you are Canadian by birth you’re fine and it won’t negatively impact your opportunities or how you are perceived but if you have an accent then you can expect to be marginalized. It could just be me, it could be my field of work but I would be interested to know if anyone else has had these experiences as well.
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Old Jun 13th 2019, 3:19 pm
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Default Re: Second Class Citizen

Originally Posted by alwaysbusy View Post
So I’ve been thinking about this for awhile but reluctant to ask but...does anyone else feel like a second class citizen in Canada? I hear all about this famous welcoming, inclusive, meritocratic society here but the longer I stay the more I think that Canada just talks a good game but is just politely dishonest/ full of crap. I see examples all the time at work where if you express an independent opinion or go against the grain in any way then if you are Canadian by birth you’re fine and it won’t negatively impact your opportunities or how you are perceived but if you have an accent then you can expect to be marginalized. It could just be me, it could be my field of work but I would be interested to know if anyone else has had these experiences as well.
can’t say I have ever experienced anything myself but i can see it will be heavily dependent on a few factors:
- where in the country (imagine it is more true in small towns than large cities)
- ethnicity of person (more likely in visual minority)
- context/situation
- perception of the individual

not saying it doesn’t/ hasn’t happened to you but would be interested to hear some specific examples of what you have experienced for comparison with
my own experiences.

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Old Jun 13th 2019, 3:50 pm
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Default Re: Second Class Citizen

Originally Posted by alwaysbusy View Post
So I’ve been thinking about this for awhile but reluctant to ask but...does anyone else feel like a second class citizen in Canada? I hear all about this famous welcoming, inclusive, meritocratic society here but the longer I stay the more I think that Canada just talks a good game but is just politely dishonest/ full of crap. I see examples all the time at work where if you express an independent opinion or go against the grain in any way then if you are Canadian by birth you’re fine and it won’t negatively impact your opportunities or how you are perceived but if you have an accent then you can expect to be marginalized. It could just be me, it could be my field of work but I would be interested to know if anyone else has had these experiences as well.
My Wife is British / Filipino and she feels what you described 100%. I am a white man with a British accent, and I have never felt this while living in Kamloops, BC.

As soon as we go to Vancouver the opposite happens. By this I mean people struggle to understand me and they have to call in their co-workers to help translate my request for a glass of walter, to a glass of a wadder. I feel like the Indian lady from the weight watchers skit on Little Britain !!

Last edited by Danny B; Jun 13th 2019 at 4:37 pm.
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Old Jun 13th 2019, 4:31 pm
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Default Re: Second Class Citizen

Originally Posted by alwaysbusy View Post
So I’ve been thinking about this for awhile but reluctant to ask but...does anyone else feel like a second class citizen in Canada? I hear all about this famous welcoming, inclusive, meritocratic society here but the longer I stay the more I think that Canada just talks a good game but is just politely dishonest/ full of crap. I see examples all the time at work where if you express an independent opinion or go against the grain in any way then if you are Canadian by birth you’re fine and it won’t negatively impact your opportunities or how you are perceived but if you have an accent then you can expect to be marginalized. It could just be me, it could be my field of work but I would be interested to know if anyone else has had these experiences as well.
Nope - never happened to me. My experience has been nothing but 100% welcoming. I don't even think about being "British" any more. I don't think anyone else does either. I remember when we first moved to Canada, for the first few months checkout peeps or whatever would often comment on my accent and ask "where are you from?" or "are you visiting?". Now, that never happens, despite having exactly the same BBC accent I've always had. So in some sense I must have changed something. I think it has more to do with sentence structure than accent; not sure. All I know is I feel totally included in our community.
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Old Jun 13th 2019, 4:38 pm
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Default Re: Second Class Citizen

I ran into some issues kind of like what you described when I first moved to Vancouver, mainly because I was still speaking using british-english style language, often mentioning the UK in comparison, and things like that. It tended to make the other person confused or feel alienated, so it was harder to connect. Eventually my accent started to soften, I started using Canadian/North American words and phrases, and people seemed to "stop hearing" my accent and just heard what I have to say. I think describing those initial issues as "second class citizen" is an exaggeration though.

That being said I think Vancouver is much more accepting of different accents than other places I've been to, as nobody has ever really commented much on my accent unless it comes up later in conversation. When I visited my friend in Chicago several years ago, everyone always commented on my accent as soon as I spoke to the point it actually was kind of distracting. My (Canadian) wife ran into the same thing when we visited my parents in a small town in the UK, people assumed she was a tourist when they heard her Canadian accent - while it was true, if she actually lived there I could imagine that being a bit annoying.
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Old Jun 13th 2019, 5:36 pm
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Default Re: Second Class Citizen

I blend in easily and sound mostly like a native born BC resident so unless I say certain things like the letter Zee or call pop soda, I largely blend in where people simply think I am Canadian.

Depending on who I am around if it gets out I am from the US there have been some issues, but largely people simply ask me why I moved to Vancouver from sunny So, California with a slightly confused look on their face.
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Old Jun 13th 2019, 6:39 pm
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Default Re: Second Class Citizen

Originally Posted by Engineer_abroad View Post

can’t say I have ever experienced anything myself but i can see it will be heavily dependent on a few factors:
- where in the country (imagine it is more true in small towns than large cities)
- ethnicity of person (more likely in visual minority)
- context/situation
- perception of the individual

not saying it doesn’t/ hasn’t happened to you but would be interested to hear some specific examples of what you have experienced for comparison with
my own experiences.

At least for rural BC I'd have to say it's to such a degree not the case that multiple people have suggested to me that 'you're not really an immigrant, though, are you...' - wish I'd known as it'd have saved me a lot of money! A number of the people I work with are from the Philippines and they definitely get a bit more...skepticism? from time to time. Interestingly the 'Indians' in Golden don't as a lot of the families have been here since the early 1900s, ie far longer than most of the other 'locals', & are quite happy to give anyone giving them any guff a bit of an earful about it.
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Old Jun 13th 2019, 11:24 pm
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Default Re: Second Class Citizen

Originally Posted by Jsmth321 View Post
...largely people simply ask me why I moved to Vancouver from sunny So, California with a slightly confused look on their face.

I expect people to ask me why I moved to Moncton from Montreal. But they never do.

I once read a tourist book for Canada that said Canadians consider Paris to be the Montreal of France. Maybe New Brunswickers similarly consider Montreal to be the Moncton of Quebec.

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Old Jun 14th 2019, 1:01 am
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Default Re: Second Class Citizen

Hi there Engineer_abroad. I'm glad you haven't had the same perception that I have. I'm not an engineer but I imagine there are similarities in our jobs (I'm in healthcare) in terms of hierarchy etc. I perhaps ought to clarify - in day to day life I'm not conscious of feeling like an outsider but at work I am very much expected to tow the line. I have seen openly different treatment of my peers compared to myself at the hands of my seniors on countless occasions to the point where, sadly, I think if I really want to get anywhere in my career I'm going to have to relocate.
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Old Jun 14th 2019, 3:04 am
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Default Re: Second Class Citizen

Originally Posted by alwaysbusy View Post
So I’ve been thinking about this for awhile but reluctant to ask but...does anyone else feel like a second class citizen in Canada? I hear all about this famous welcoming, inclusive, meritocratic society here but the longer I stay the more I think that Canada just talks a good game but is just politely dishonest/ full of crap. I see examples all the time at work where if you express an independent opinion or go against the grain in any way then if you are Canadian by birth you’re fine and it won’t negatively impact your opportunities or how you are perceived but if you have an accent then you can expect to be marginalized. It could just be me, it could be my field of work but I would be interested to know if anyone else has had these experiences as well.
Yes. Institutional racism exists in Canada.
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Old Jun 14th 2019, 3:25 am
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Default Re: Second Class Citizen

I've never experienced anything like this.

However, I could see where it might happen, especially if you haven't changed much ............

a) in the words you use. That does not mean your accent, it does mean saying trunk instead of boot, elevator instead of lift, etc etc

b) Extend a) to your job, and continue using the English words or descriptors

b) you constantly make comparisons back to the UK


I worked at a university, and occasionally my boss and I would read out loud to each other the Latin names of plants and animals .............. it was a form of proofreading. I never quite got the Canadian pronunciation of some words, but we would end up giggling after a while. He never made me feel that I was second-class .......... maybe because I'd already experienced similar different pronunciations between people from different universities or different parts of the UK.


I felt more of a second-class citizen back in the UK in the 1960s, as a Northerner being interviewed in the South.
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Old Jun 14th 2019, 12:13 pm
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Default Re: Second Class Citizen

Originally Posted by scilly View Post
I've never experienced anything like this.
But you need not be blind to it. Cradle Canadians are rare around here. I suppose 20% of the people in the building (a couple of thousand people total) might be white, born in Canada, Canadians. All of the executives are. Almost of the police and judiciary are. Almost all of the members of the government at all levels are. Immigrants don't suffer the kind of discrimination that the aboriginal people in empty Provinces do; we're not in camps or in jail, but there are certain establishment positions for which membership of the bumiputera is a major qualifier.

Note that I'm not taking a position, if the Canadians think it appropriate to operate an apartheid system that's up to them, it's not our place to judge but to leave if we're not comfortable with it.
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Old Jun 14th 2019, 4:51 pm
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Default Re: Second Class Citizen

Originally Posted by dbd33 View Post
But you need not be blind to it. Cradle Canadians are rare around here. I suppose 20% of the people in the building (a couple of thousand people total) might be white, born in Canada, Canadians. All of the executives are. Almost of the police and judiciary are. Almost all of the members of the government at all levels are. Immigrants don't suffer the kind of discrimination that the aboriginal people in empty Provinces do; we're not in camps or in jail, but there are certain establishment positions for which membership of the bumiputera is a major qualifier.

Note that I'm not taking a position, if the Canadians think it appropriate to operate an apartheid system that's up to them, it's not our place to judge but to leave if we're not comfortable with it.
While discrimination exists in Canada, Canada is still one of the most tolerant countries in the world when it comes to this issue. However, what I disagree with the most here is your suggestion that the only response to "leave" and that "it's not our place to judge". I hold a Canadian passport and am a Canadian citizen, as such I have the right to call out racism when I see it, even though I was not born here. We are allowed to be politically active. We can all do our part to stomp out intolerance, even as immigrants.
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Old Jun 14th 2019, 5:11 pm
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Default Re: Second Class Citizen

Originally Posted by CanadaJimmy View Post
We are allowed to be politically active. We can all do our part to stomp out intolerance, even as immigrants.
I suppose one may elect to meddle in Canadian affairs, or Australian affairs for that matter. I just don't think it's our place to do so. Colonialism has been rather a scourge on the world and we might do better to leave foreigners to their own devices.
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Old Jun 14th 2019, 6:35 pm
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Default Re: Second Class Citizen

Originally Posted by CanadaJimmy View Post
While discrimination exists in Canada, Canada is still one of the most tolerant countries in the world when it comes to this issue. However, what I disagree with the most here is your suggestion that the only response to "leave" and that "it's not our place to judge". I hold a Canadian passport and am a Canadian citizen, as such I have the right to call out racism when I see it, even though I was not born here. We are allowed to be politically active. We can all do our part to stomp out intolerance, even as immigrants.
Hear hear! Positive change comes from this attitude. Experiences vary naturally from area to area, situation to situation, and person to person.
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