The process of integration…or, wait, haven’t we been here before?

This happens every time a country gets a wave of immigrants. Every. Time.

In Canada, it happened with the Ukranians, the Germans, the Italians, the Portuguese, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Irish…

Newcomers, homesick and isolated by both culture and language, group together to feel a little less disconnected, to ease the wrench of the overpowering newness and the bewildering changes in their lives.

The host country freaks out and discriminates/demonizes them, forcing them to cling a little tighter to each other and those things they miss about the old and familiar. Even things they were escaping from: at least they *understood* those things.

Meanwhile, their kids learn the new language, make new non-group friends, busily fitting in – but of course, the parental fears and insecurities influence them still, and while they discard some of the less-useful or obstructive parts of the old culture, they still retain a strong connection based on that parental nostalgia. Some begin to find housing where their careers take them, rather than clinging to areas where the parent culture can insulate them from the mainstream, either by choice or – more likely – necessity.

The grandchildren, though, and even more so, the great-grandchildren, identify only mildly with the ethnic origin: they are fearlessly part of their birth-country and hardly, if ever, think about housing or shopping districts in terms of whether it is connected to some vague “homeland” notion.

And by then, not only has the host culture stopped worrying about these “incomers” – they barely notice the origins.

In 20 years, no one in Canada will be anything but embarrassed by the current hateful attitudes both the government and the population now display and verbalize regarding immigrants from Arabic/Islamic countries.

* Note: this also appeared on my Facebook page, so, if you got that sense of deja vu… I just thought it bore repeating.


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