On July first, Canada Day, we went down and took in the big show at Canada Place; fun was had. We’re officially and as a matter of record here in Canada supposed to be about multiculturalism and any idiot can see we’re multiethnic, but that doesn’t actually mean we’re eating off different tables or listening to different tunes.

The event left a powerful impression on me. But first let me say that it was well-done; don’t know by whom, but I admire them. There was music and humor and tasty food and places to dance and things to see, with a reasonable mix of public-spirited idealism and fun-for-fun’s-sake.

You’d have to be blind and deaf not to think “Wow, sure are a lot of ethnic groups here.” It being Vancouver, a majority of them come from around the Pacific. But this being a tourist town, there are variations on the theme. Consider this photograph.

People having their picture taken on Canada Day by Vancouver’s Olympic flame

The flames-on-beams visible at the left are not just any old fire because the beams are where our Olympic Flame lived while Vancouver-2010 was on. I’m not sure what they mean now, but people like to have their picture taken in front of them, so I did.

Here’s the thing: I’m pretty sure that the three people on the left side are 100% Canadian, while the white folk on the right are Eurotourists.

While we’re doing pictures, I think this one speaks for itself. I think it worth enlarging.

Canada Day at Canada Place in Vancouver

It occurs to me to wonder whether basic Royal Canadian Mounted Police training now includes strategic makeup deployment.

But I was walking around looking at everyone, eating my mini-donuts and souvlaki sandwich, and thinking that we’re all choosing from the same menu.

On the day, my favorite selection was Five Alarm Funk, a bunch of Vancouver boys laying down the hot Afro-Cuban beats, and if that seems a little incongruous you haven’t been here. They’re good.

Give me a resident of Vancouver and I’ll give you someone who may have any skin color you can possibly imagine but has a whole lot of experiences shared with other residents which I’ll spare you the cliché’d list of but include certain hockey players and Asian cuisines and permanently-festering political issues (including both narcotics and homelessness) and commuting options and real-estate pricing.

At the most basic possible level, all this shared experience is leading to an intensely-shared gene pool; we’re interbreeding furiously not just in Vancouver but pretty well everywhere in the former colonies round the Pacific.

At the end of the day, whether we’re talking food or marriage partners or comic books or City Council, we’re all in the same restaurant eating off the same really-big buffet, and more or less everything’s on it. Maybe it’s as simple as just reducing friction, and here in Vancouver (and maybe ’round most of that Pacific Rim) we’ve pretty well taken it down to zero.

I wouldn’t live anywhere else.



Contributions

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From: John Cowan (Jul 09 2010, at 04:25)

A wonderful love-letter to Vancouver. Of course, I could write a love-letter to New York (I wouldn't live anywhere else) that was practically the same word for word, but that doesn't change the fact that you actually wrote it and I actually didn't.

Bravo.

So I'll tell this story instead. Some time back in the 1970s, while I was still living with my parents in New Jersey, my (future) wife Gale managed to inveigle her parents into coming to the Big Apple for the first, last, and only time. As one does, she took them to see various sights, notably the Statue of Liberty.

Now Gale's mother grew up on a farm in North Carolina in the 1920s, and she's pretty much lived in small Southern cities her whole life. While waiting in the long, long, long line, she asked her daughter, "Why are all these foreigners here?" That is, at this peculiarly American place?

Gale looked in front of her at the folks standing on line, the brown-skinned people speaking Spanish and the women in the chadors and the people with dots of pigment on their foreheads.

"What foreigners?" she replied blankly.

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From: Cath (Jul 09 2010, at 05:56)

There was a very interesting variation on the multi-ethnic Mountie theme here in Halifax recently. During the Pow-wow on The Common, all the First Nations Mounties wore a small feather tied at the back of their hair or on the leather hat strap, indicating their ethnic background. The feathers were so similar, the look so restrained yet official, I believe it is part of the uniform for them when participating at some events. They and many military and police members were part of every ceremony and Grand Entrance Parade. It made me proud to think our RCMP could accommodate this after all the discussions I remember years back in Vancouver with the Sikh turban discussions.

And did you know our Navy has their own tipi, painted with appropriate insignia?

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From: Ed (Jul 09 2010, at 10:08)

Five Alarm Funk cooks!

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From: Rob (Jul 10 2010, at 06:59)

After 24 years in the biz, I am finding it hard to accept that we won. But we did.

Yes indeed we are all eating off the same table now. I cannot express how much that means to me.

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From: Karl (Jul 11 2010, at 07:59)

Well, I do like Vancouver. A lot. But I prefer Austria. That's where I grew up and that's where I live. In my opinion there is way better food, same healthy environment, cool people, lots of culture(!), high standard of living, very good education, great social security, ...

That is why Vienna and Graz is listed as one of the best places to live. Just like Vancouver ;) Come and check yourself.

But besides those arguments above I do think that everybody prefers the environment he or she grew up in ...

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From: Thomas (Jul 12 2010, at 02:51)

Multicultural in Vancouver means a lot of middle class Asians, right? Let's see how multicultural you are when the refugees start showing up in large numbers.

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