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Field Reports: RESPECT Summer School in Multicultural Studies

Visit to the Philippine Women’s Centre of Ontario

During the summer course of the RESPECT program at the University of Toronto, we visited the Philippine Women’s Centre (PWC) of Ontario, which is located at the Magkaisa Centre (“magkasia” means “unity” in Tagalog) in a residential area in the city.

[Pic 1: Arriving at the Philippine Women’s Centre (PWC)]

At the centre, the PWC members explained about the centre’s establishment, and their discussions and activities to support Philippine women working in Toronto and their aim to empower the Philippine Canadian community as a political organisation. Most of the Philippine women who have worked in Toronto in recent years were engaged in the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP). Under LCP, the caregivers must work and live in an employer’s house. As one of the members who is a former caregiver told us, they suffer from poor working conditions and mistreatment, which we were deeply shocked to hear.

We asked questions regarding the educational hardship of the Philippine Canadian children and youth, and about the Philippines’ national labour policy. Later, we all enjoyed the Philippine cuisine that the members prepared for us for lunch, while getting to know each other and discussing further questions. Through the visit to PWC, we each gained various perspectives.

After the visit, we looked back to the project that some of us led in the last semester in Minami in Osaka, where many immigrants, especially from the Philippines, live. Since their children, as well as the adults, struggle with the language, finances and family situations, we cooperated with a civil organisation who supports them by providing voluntary Japanese classes and advisory services.

[Pic 2: Lunch and interaction with members of the PWC]

[Pic 3: Group photo: RESPECT and PWC members ]

At the workshop on the last day of the course, we discussed the two cases in Toronto and Osaka. Although the two cases share similarities as grass-root organizations for the immigrant community, we recognized their different approaches. In contrast to the politically active PWC that harshly criticises multiculturalism in Canada, the culturally oriented Minami ward is involved in the building of the foundation of a multicultural society that accepts foreign people.

Looking at multiculturalism from the viewpoint of grass-root activism representing a minority community while reflecting on our experiences reminded us of important questions. What kind of societies do they/we work for? Multiculturalism or Co-existence? And what are they? As a RSPECT student and a member of humanity living within diversity, we will always return to these questions and will continue to search for the answers.

PWC group: Rika Nagasawa, Midori Kobayashi, Mari Kubo, Tomohito Isaka, Koutarou Yabunaka

(September 16, 2014, PWC group)

Learning about Canada’s “Multiculturalism” and “Kyosei” through a case study at TRIEC (Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council)

Toronto is a city which is often viewed as “Multicultural” because there is a presence of people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. It is said that 49% of Torontonians are immigrants. On the 22nd of August, in order to obtain some insights into Canada’s “Multiculturalism,” we made a visit to the institution called TRIEC (Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council). TRIEC is a multi-stakeholder council founded in 2003 that focuses on “Multiculturalism” in the work place and works on a key social issue: unequal employment in the working environment for immigrants. Through the case study of TRIEC and the workshop with UofT professors, we gained two insights into Canada’s “Multiculturalism” and made some reflections on our concept of “Kyosei.”

[Pic 4: Presentation at the TRIEC]

[Pic 5: Question and discussion session at the TRIEC]

First, we learnt about a problem with “multiculturalism in Canada: an unequal employment environment for immigrants in Toronto. We were shown an active, pragmatic attempt to solve the problem. TRIEC claims that the situation where many highly skilled immigrants are placed in lower skilled jobs and paid low salaries is a social issue. They provide online and offline resources mainly for employers, such as the Mentor system, TRIEC campus and PINs as a way to persuade employers to hire the immigrants and manage daily communication at their workplace. Basically through these projects and its processes, TRIEC offers corporations the economic benefit which those immigrants bring: more innovative ideas and expanded global networks. TRIEC seemed successful in persuading those corporations to hire more and more highly skilled immigrants. It could be said that TRIEC has been making a change in the labor market. Through this case study of TRIEC, we learnt about the current problem that Canada’s “Multiculturalism” still faces and also about a successful ongoing resolution for it.

However, throughout this whole summer school we have understood that Canada’s “Multiculturalism” is an economic-driven policy, and as the TRIEC case study reveals, people are more likely to respect the diversities as long as they benefit them financially. This understanding sparked a significant, deeper consideration, “what other benefits can we see in “Multiculturalism” besides the economic benefit?” Are the same benfits also within our concept of “Kyosei” in which the presence of diversities within society is encouraged. During the workshop on 27th at UofT, we had a great opportunity to share and discuss our thoughts with the professors at UofT and all the second year RESPECT students, which gave us more insights into both concepts of “Multiculturalism” and “Kyosei.”

To sum up, this RESPECT Summer School in Multicultural Studies has been an inspiring experience for us to gain some insights into Canada’s “Multiculturalism” and reflect those back onto our concept of “Kyosei.” We sincerely would like to thank all those who made this opportunity for us.

TRIEC group: Kodai Murakami, Nishi Norihiro, Ryo Izutsu, Kazuki Ohtaki, Eri Sakaguchi

(September 16, 2014, TRIEC group)

The Dilemma of multiculturalism in Canada: Visiting the Pentecost International Worship Center

We visited a Ghanaian church in North York, named PIWC (Pentecost International Worship Centre) on our third field trip in Toronto. This church was originally established in Ghana by an Irish pastor, so many of the participants are Ghanaian. But there are people from other countries, for example, Nigeria, Guinea and Kenya. The denomination of this church is Pentecostal. Pentecostal Christianity is a so- called “fundamentalist” church which some dismiss as a deviation from the established Christian church tradition. Pentecostals emphasize the idea of conversion to a new life: a church member has to be born again.

[Pic 6: Church service at the Pentecost International Worship Centre (PIWC)]

[Pic 7: Prayer performance at the PIWC]

We had expected the ceremony would be conducted quietly, but it was conducted with singing and dancing enjoyably. It was so different from the major ceremonies in Japan, that we were all surprised. They kept on repeating phrases like “In the name of Jesus” ”Praise God”, “Alleluia”

[Pic 8: Group photo: RESPECT and PIWC members]

Some of our members confessed that they felt uncomfortable to be there next day in the class. Then, Prof. Daswani who had conducted his own research in PIWC in Ghana and UK told us that it is natural to feel uncomfortable because we had never been in that kind of culture in our life. But he also explained to us that it is part of their culture and told us how the Pentecostal church plays an important role for those Ghanaians in home making.

Although they said Christian wisdom is universal, for emigrants from Africa, especially Ghana, there are many issues that are different from “white Canadians”. The meaning and social role of the church can be viewed in that perspective. The church in Toronto allows Ghanaians to band together and to share the ideas which Ghanaian people developed in their homeland. This aspect is vital to analyze this minority’s experience in Toronto. The pastor said that their Christian identity is more important than their Ghanaian identity. However it might be that their Ghanaian identity is a part of their Christian identity.

PIWC group: Sayaka Kutsukake, Shunya Ozaki, Youxin Kang, Xiaochuan Zhao, Kosuke Kazumi

(September 16, 2014, PIWC group)

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