A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘diasporas

[LINK] “Canada’s great debt to Scotland”

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Author Ken McGoogan’s MacLean’s article about the contribution of Scottish Canadians to the creation of modern Canada is a nice brief take.

In uptown Toronto, if you look east across the street from the Royal Ontario Museum, you will see an elegant building that symbolizes what the Scots have done for Canada. It also suggests why, in light of today’s divisive referendum, Canadians should take a moment to think of their Scottish cousins. Originally, this stately, three-storey structure formed part of the University of Toronto. Today, the main tenant is Club Monaco, a clothing-store outlet geared to young professionals. If you step inside on a Saturday afternoon, you will marvel at the ethnic and linguistic diversity swirling around you.

What does that have to do with the Scots? I would argue: everything. The architect who designed this building, working with philanthropist Lillian Massey, and as part of an architectural firm owned by G.M. Miller, was my wife’s grandfather—a Scottish immigrant named William Fraser. Few people know his name. The Scottish architect has become invisible. Yet, when you look around from inside this neoclassical edifice, you realize that the architect is all around you. So it is with Canada. The Scottish architects are invisible. But if we stop and look around, we realize that they played a preeminent role in shaping our country. Nobody owes them more than we do.

Obviously, Canada is not just a land mass bordering on three oceans and a superpower. It is a cultural, political, and economic entity. It is a web of interconnected governments, businesses, institutions, organizations, and individuals—a complex interweaving of social programs, cultural networks and communications and transportation systems. That is why we can think of it as being “invented.” Canada is a multifaceted creation, one that, more than a decade ago, Richard Gwyn rightly identified as the world’s first postmodern nation.

Today, there are almost as many Canadians of Scottish heritage (4.7 million) as there are Scots in Scotland (5.3 million). Scottish Canadians constitute only 13 per cent of the Canadian population, and have never exceeded 16 per cent. Yet their shaping influence has proven wildly disproportionate. No matter how you approach the history of Canada—through exploration, politics, business, education, literature—you find Scots taking a leading role.

[. . .] I think we should highlight how Scottish Canadians fostered the pluralism that is the hallmark of postmodern Canada. Of this country’s 22 prime ministers, for starters, 13 claimed at least some Scottish heritage, or almost 60 per cent. These include Sir John A. Macdonald, William Lyon Mackenzie King, John George Diefenbaker and Pierre Elliott Trudeau. Would anybody suggest that these figures made no difference?

Written by Randy McDonald

September 19, 2014 at 2:49 am

[BLOG] Some Tuesday links

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  • blogTO shares pictures from last weekend’s Ukrainian Festival.
  • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly started a discussion of the merits of small town life or vice versa, coming down decidedly against.
  • Centauri Dreams examines the concept of the Venus zone.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes a study suggesting that the Moon’s gravity is not high enough for humans to orient themselves.
  • Eastern Approaches looks at the elections in Crimea.
  • Language Hat examines the story of the endangered language Ayapeneco, apparently misrepresented in an ad campaign.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that the American left is starting to win on cultural issues.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that the collapse of Scotland’s industrial sector has led to a certain deglobalization.
  • The Planetary Society Blog’s Emily Lakdawalla notes the discovery of a potential landing site for Rosetta.
  • Torontoist looks at a local model airplane club.
  • Towleroad notes the lead writer of Orange is the New Black has left her husband and begun dating one of her actors.
  • Window on Eurasia suggests many Westerners haven’t taken the shift in Russian politics fully into account.

[LINK] “Dogged By Controversy, A Jewish Sect Is On The Move Again”

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NPR’s Ted Robbins writes about the latest migration of the Lev Tahor, which fled Québec following reports of child abuse first to Ontario then left Canada altogether for Guatemala. They do not fit in well there, apparently.

[I]n a culture of brightly colored clothing and clean-shaven men, the black suits and long beards stood out.

“We are different, very different,” Goldman said.

Language is part of the barrier. Almost all of the members of Lev Tahor speak Yiddish, Hebrew or English — not Spanish. But Vice Mayor Gusman Ulpan said the Jews threaten Mayan and Christian traditions, as well as newer social policies encouraging small families.

“The problem is cultural. Their culture is contrary to our culture and traditions,” Ulpan says. “They tell our women, ‘Why do you only have two or three children? It’s a sin. You should have as many children as God gives you.’ “

Written by Randy McDonald

September 16, 2014 at 7:39 pm

[NEWS] Some Monday links

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  • Al Jazeera notes the rivalry between the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, observes claims of persecution by evangelical Christians of followers of traditional African religions in Brazil, notes that separatism is unpopular in Scotland’s border regions, considers the problems of a beetle theme park in the penumbra of Japan’s Fukushima, looks at a Palestinian-American model, and considers rap music in Iran.
  • The Atlantic notes how events have vindicated the American Congress’ Barbara Lee, the only person not to vote in favour of granting unlimited war-making powers to the American presiden after 9/11, looks at the existential problems of Yiddish outside of ultra-Orthodox communities, and examines Stephen King’s thinking on how to teach writing.
  • Bloomberg notes the water problems of Detroit, looks at proposals to give Scotland home rule and Euroskepticism among the English, considers claims that Scotland might need huge reserves to back up its currency, notes ways sanctions threaten oil deals with Russian companies, examines Poland’s natural gas issues and those of the rest of central and southeastern Europe, notes Ukraine’s exclusion of Russian companies from a 3G cellular auction, notes the reluctance of Scottish banks to support an independent Scotland, and observes how domestic protectionism in Argentina is boosting Uruguay’s beef exports to Europe.
  • The Bloomberg View argues that it should be possible to cleanly break up even established nation-states, is critical of what Colombia is doing to Venezuelan refugees, argues that the achievements of social insects like acts are irrelevant to more complex beings like us, and suggests Britain has no place to criticize China over Hong Kong.
  • CBC notes the strength of Inuit oral history following the discovery of one of the Franklin Expedition’s ships, notes that the type of cancer that killed Terry Fox is now highly curable, and notes NDP leader Thomas Mulcair’s proposal of a $15 an hour federal minimum wage.
  • The Inter Press Service notes Uzbekistan’s fear of Russia motivating a look for eastern allies and suggests that an anti-discrimination law can worsen the plight of sexual minorities in Georgia.
  • MacLean’s notes that Mexican economic development is good for Canada, looks at Catalonian secessionism, and suggests that a new EI tax credit won’t help Canadian business boost employment.
  • Open Democracy looked at the likely outcome of Crimean elections under Russian rule.
  • The Toronto Star revisited the unsettled state of affairs in the Central African Republic.

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

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  • Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait notes that it has been fifteen years since Space 1999 took place.
  • blogTO notes that Sunrise Records is closing its downtown Toronto stores.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a study of nearby star BD-21 1074 suggesting that its close-in planets are forming not as a result of core accretion but rather gravitational collapse.
  • Far Outliers notes the population exchanges of Muslims and Christians occurring after the Crimean War.
  • A Fistful of Euros’ Edward Hugh worries about the Spanish government’s reaction, or lack thereof, to events in Catalonia.
  • Marginal Revolution notes the pressures an independent Scotland would face for austerity.
  • The Power and the Money’s Noel Maurer notes that Scottish departure from the United Kingdom makes it unlikely that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union.
  • The Russian Demographics Blog notes the Circassian diaspora.
  • Spacing Toronto notes the political feudalism of the Ford family.
  • Torontoist chronicles the appearances and murders of American serial killer H.H. Holmes in 1890s Toronto.
  • Towleroad notes the importance of Ellen Degeneres.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy continues covering the debate on Scottish separatism.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the costs to Kaliningrad of European Union sanctions and suggests Russia has very intrusive war aims in Ukraine.
  • Yorkshire Ratner Alex Harrowell takes a look at sub-national separatist movements in Europe.

[LINK] “$24B left Canada in 2012. Here’s what happened to it”

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This June Toronto Star article by the paper’s Jennifer Quinn about remittances from Canada, one of a series, does a nice job introducing the issue of remittances in Canada’s immigrant economy.

The money sent overseas each year by people living in Canada could buy about 70 jumbo jets, mountains of sparkling engagement rings, or more than a third of Starbucks Corporation, depending on the day: $24 billion goes a long way.

According to the World Bank , that’s how much ordinary people living and working here sent to their home countries in 2012: The money may go to a grandmother in Beijing, a niece in Kingston or a cousin in Jaipur.

It might be for groceries, the electric bill or school fees; or it could be meant to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary or a wedding. It may be earmarked to repay a debt or help start a business. Most aren’t sending much money at any one time: $200 is an average sum.

So Sheryl Jacosalem is both typical and extraordinary.

She came to Canada from the Philippines — via Hong Kong — in 2009 and worked for more than three years as a nanny in Thornhill. Every payday, she would send at least half of her earnings, sometimes more, home to her family.

It was about $500 on the 15th of every month; if she could, and it was needed, she would send a bit more at the end. That money put four sisters and a brother through school, and now — three of her sisters have joined her here in Canada — the family is putting the finishing touches on a house they have built for their parents in Iloilo.

“We grew up with nothing, and so we want them … we don’t want to worry,” Jacosalem, 36, says. “We just don’t want to worry that we’re here in Canada and we don’t know what’s going on with them there. We want them safe and we want to make sure they are always OK.”

Written by Randy McDonald

September 11, 2014 at 7:36 pm

[NEWS] Some Monday links

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  • Al Jazeera notes controversy over a proposed women-only beach in Turkey, suggests that Iraqi Sunnis are ready to fight against the Islamic State while observing Germany’s arming of the Kurds, notes the decision of France to halt its delivery of warships to Russia, warns of general concern in the Netherlands about Islamic State activism, notes the existential issues of a relatively declining American evangelical Christianity, and notes African immigration to Brazil.
  • Bloomberg suggests Russia wants to prevent Ukraine from integrating with the West, notes the strengthening of European Union sanctions against Russia, observes that Berlin has outstripped Rome as a tourist destination, examines Filipino insecurity vis-a-vis China, and looks at the booming Tokyo property market.
  • Bloomberg View, meanwhile argues that there is a job shortage not a “stagnation vacation” in developed countries, warns that right now closer links with NATO would harm Ukraine, and favours the strengthening of the European Union’s eastern perimeter.
  • MacLean’s notes NATO’s reorientation away from Afghanistan towards containing Russia.
  • National Geographic and Universe Today about both skeptical about reports of a meteorite impact in Nicaragua.
  • PBS notes a very unusual triple–possibly quadruple–star system.
  • Reuters notes Thailand’s efforts to encourage Chinese tourism.
  • Universe Today notes that planets in binary systems are more common than once thought and looks at the difficulties of landing Philae on its target comet.
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