I was just tweeting about how a director in New York City was telling me on the line that I sounded “very Canadian”. And how a Disney rep at a Hollywood press conference once pointed out how Canadian my pronunciation of “about” was. (I couldn’t tell the difference.)
By coincidence, I came across a video that local YouTuber Linda Dong (of "Seven Types of Vancouver Girls" infamy) made with the Fung Brothers in the U.S. about the differences between Asian Canadians and Asian Americans.
They make a lot of points, using a lot of generalizations, but seem to be mostly doing it just to get people thinking and talking, as they encourage people to post comments about how right or wrong they are.
See what you think.
Amongst it all, there are some interesting points in there. They are right about how proportionately Asian Canadians have a larger piece of the national population pie than Asian Americans.
But here are a few quick points I’d like to make:
- They repeatedly use the term “East Indian”, which may be more used in the U.S. where “Indian” is still used to refer to aboriginal people. In Canada, since we use “aboriginal”, “indigenous”, or “First Nations”, the term “East Indian” is redundant. “South Asian” also tends to be used, which includes people from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and more, as well as diasporic populations (from countries like the U.K., South Africa, and more). Okay, that was more complicated than I planned on it being. But hopefully you got the point.
- In addition to the point about more South Asian YouTubers, we also have quite a number of South Asian Canadian stars and public figures, including comedians Russell Peters and Shaun Majumder, CBC’s Ian Hanomansing, and more. There are also a number of East Asian Canadian stars and public figures, including David Suzuki, Sook-Yin Lee, Adrianne Clarkson, Olivia Chow, Sandra Oh, Mina Shum, Patrick Chan, Steph Song, and so on and so on, who have all helped to increase the visibility of Canadians of East Asian descent.
- Regarding the point about black American culture being influential: since American pop culture is so prevalent, American hip-hop culture is quite dominant in Canada. However, what the difference may be is that many Canadian urban centres may not have a large black Canadian population (except for perhaps Toronto) compared to cities in America. So in Canada, black North American culture may be primarily delivered through media to many Canadians, as opposed to daily or in person interactions as in America.
- Regarding Canada not being as racist as America, some history lessons might be in order. In addition to First Nations people, Asian Canadians were the targets of racist legislation, including the Chinese Head Tax, the Japanese Canadian Internment during the Second World War, and the Continuous Journey Act, which prevented people from South Asia immigrating by boat.
- They forgot to point out (although they somewhat alluded to it) that the traditional difference in approaches to diversity between the two countries is that America uses a melting pot model, of assimilating everyone into the American culture, whereas Canada utilized a cultural mosaic concept, in which people could retain their culture and identity yet fit into the larger Canadian picture.
- This trio isn't the greatest at doing non-Asian accents...
I'm not so sure if Asian Canadians are considered cooler in Canada than Asian Americans are in the U.S. but let's just say yeah, for the hell of it.