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Field Reports of Toronto 2017: Home Making amongst the Diaspora

Students of the Respect program have many chances to go abroad for study trips. From April 26th to May 8th of 2017, students went to Toronto to study multiculturalism of Canada. In the field, students were assigned three research groups: critiques of multiculturalism; home making amongst the diaspora; ethnography of Kensington market. The following is a report of home making amongst the diaspora focussing on two Pentecostal churches

Bonding and Bridging in CANADA, the Country of Multiculturalism

[Pic. 1]The board of Pentecotist Church

[Pic. 2]Group photo at Progress Church

The RESPECT Summer School program revolves around three themes, and each theme requires going on a field trip to see the reality related to the theme. Group 2 chose the theme “Transnationalism, Migration and Religion: Home-making amongst the Diaspora” which included a visit to two churches for field study. The first church was located far from the center of Toronto, in Scarborough. The neighborhood around the church is an area where many migrants are settling, especially from Ghana. The second church, the Progress Church, was established decades ago, and now also functions as a community center in the area. Most of the congregation are from the Caribbean and the church is located in Kingston Road, Scarborough.

The key words for this field study were “bonding,” “bridging,” and “home.” First, in both churches, a state of making a “bond” could be seen. Both churches could be described as homogeneous, and most members of their congregation were from a particular place outside Canada. The churches provided a place for “bonding.” By coming to the church each week, they had a time to gather, share their experiences in an unfamiliar country, and make their bond stronger. Secondly, we can see these churches also as bridges. At the second church, we were welcomed warmly, and they seemed to be very open to outsiders. One of the members of the congregation said, “Yeah, the church is home for me, but this home enables me to come and go from home.” This comment strongly suggests that the church functions as a “bridge” between society and the church. What is more, the people who felt this church was “home” for them were also appreciated by the RESPECT students who could experience a “homely” atmosphere because of their warm welcome. For one member of Group 2, it was her first time to visit a church, yet she felt she was welcomed and that moved her. It could be said that this “home” acted as a ‘kyosei’ bridge even between very different people, beyond nationalities, ethnicities, and various backgrounds. This bridge was not enacted by the government of a country, as in the policy of “multiculturalism.” It was enacted by a small group of people. This drew us to ask the question of whether the idea of “home” could function as a means to realize the concept of ‘kyosei’.

This sense of “home” might also function to help people who feel separated from society. For example, at the first church the RESPECT students visited, members of the congregation were sharing their life stories and problems during a Bible Study, which was held before the worship. Often, from the stories of the congregants, it was clear that some, or even most of them were marginalized in society, for example, in the workplace. The theme of the bible study was “being diligent.” One man said, “It is hard to keep motivated to be diligent, when no-one pays attention to you however much you try to do hard work and to be diligent.” By coming to this “home” and sharing their burdens with familiar friends, they might become more tolerant towards playing a subservient role in society. However, this begs the question as to whether such subservience can belong to a concept such as ‘kyosei’? Can co-existence as an ideal exist if it accepts somebody’s tolerance or subservience? That is a question we have brought back with us to Japan as we try to unravel the concept of ‘kyosei’.

(July 7, 2017, Ching, Hayashi, Kamiya, Sasaki)

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