Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Little Chat

A week before Christmas, I was at the swimming pool watching my 8 year old's lessons when I struck up a conversation with the grandmother of a fellow student. Somehow we got onto the topic of Christmas concerts and she mentioned that her grandson's school no longer has a concert because they do not want to offend other beliefs. I was quite shocked because that is the school my younger brother used to go to and it is literally only a few blocks from my daughter's school, which does have a concert each year and even incorporates some Christian religion with Santa time. No it is not a religious school. Anyhow the grandmother, it turns out, is an immigrant to Canada, she arrived in the 50s. She was married to a Canadian soldier, whom she met while he was serving in England. Part of her family is from France (where she was born) and now lives in Montreal, while the rest still lives in England.

Anyway it was interesting listening to this almost-70 year old woman and her opinions on immigration and the changes she has seen. She lived in Germany and the United States with her husband before he passed away at the young age of 39 from a heart attack. She decided to remain in Canada where his family was instead of going back home. She raised their son here. She went on for about 30 minutes straight about how she cannot believe that when people move here from other countries, they try to change things to suit them. She is thoroughly disgusted with it all. She also talked about the taxes and pensions and endless programs set out here there and everywhere. When she turned 60, she was so worried that the pension program would be axed, she decided to take it then instead of waiting until she was 65. Some might say 'well, why did she do that if she hates these programs?'... She did it because she worked for 30 years in this country, paying taxes up the wazoo, and CP was taken from her cheques every month and she wanted that money back. She talked about not liking how some people can come from another country just before they are 60 or 65 and yet still be able to get a pension even though they did not pay a dime into it, or at least not for very long.

She spoke about how unions used to be there for the people, as they originally claimed their main focus was, but now they are huge gluttonous corporations on their own (most of them), who's main focus is money and lining their own pockets while their members are waiting a year or more for settlements (I can attest to that as a close friend filed a claim with her union over 18 months ago for a serious thing and it is still not settled, so she should have done something about it on her own instead of going through all this garbage). The woman spoke about how when she moved to Canada, she embraced our customs and just did her own at home. She never once expected the host country to bend to her demands, she is the one who chose to move here and therefore followed the rules and customs accordingly. Likewise when she lived in Germany and in the US.

Several times she felt the need to stop and say 'I am not prejudice, I am not racist', but she didn't have to explain that to me, so I told her so lol. She just doesn't like it when people are welcomed from a country that is less than ideal, a country they were in fact fleeing from due to unrest and starvation and war, but how so many then try to change things to be more like 'home' after they arrive. We discussed how it's obviously not everyone - my daughter has muslim kids in her class that were dressed as santa and rudolph and one was even dressed as Mary in the little Nativity piece while her parents beamed and took photos and video. She wore her traditional head scarf and held baby Jesus. My daughter's school actually has the highest number of immigrant students or children from recent immigrant families, but the majority of them have embraced everything and are enjoying learning new customs while teaching students about their own. However, as the older woman I spoke to said, too many are silent about those who do come in and try to change things or force their own laws upon the land, or expect us to ignore when they violate our laws in favor of their own. She believes these other families need to speak out to help balance things again.

It was just an interesting talk with a woman who has lived all over, came to Canada from a different country, moving to a part that generally did not speak her birth language, and has a different view over what has been going on for the past few decades. She fears for her grandson, wondering what things will be like in another 20 years when he is almost 30 and trying to make his own family and career. How much will HE be paying in taxes to pay for all these current programs and future ones? How much of HIS time and effort will be taken from him in order to supply others with needs and wants? That sort of thing. It's the same type of worry I have for my own children.

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