Increasing intercultural relations
Two years ago, city councillor Rob Ford made disparaging and stereotypical remarks about people of Asian descent, saying “Oriental people work like dogs” and that “they're slowly taking over.”
So, why is this relevant now?
Ford recently announced his candidacy for the mayor's seat in one of the most diverse cities in the world. As a public figure, the mayor represents Toronto both in Canada and abroad.
Our mayor is a reflection of our city and our people. He or she should be a leader we can be proud to call our own.
As a Torontonian of Chinese descent, the sting of Ford's comments lingers even now. And I know many of my fellow Asian-Canadians feel the same way.
To gain the trust of voters, particularly ethnic minorities such as myself, city councillors need to do more than just throw around words like “diversity” and “multiculturalism.” They need to demonstrate cultural sensitivity, and a real understanding of the racial dynamics in Toronto.
This city may be diverse, but there is a lack of integration among Toronto's ethnic communities. As local leaders, city councillors shouldn't reinforce these divisions – they should break them down.
I recall attending anti-racism and anti-oppression sessions during my time as a member of the Toronto Youth Cabinet several years ago. The city should offer similar programs to the general public. It should also host more intercultural events that will bring various ethnic groups together. Far too often, I see events such as the Toronto Chinatown Festival marketed and publicized specifically to Chinese communities. Meanwhile, other minority communities are left in the dark about these kinds of festivities, and as a consequence, lose out on an opportunity to explore and understand another culture.
Only when city councillors show this kind of racial awareness and act upon it, can they possibly earn my vote, and the vote of thousands of other Torontonians like me.