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"Chinese Signs In Richmond: Should There Be A Limit?"

Maysie
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Joined: Apr 21 2005

ooo...ooo

 


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Maysie
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Joined: Apr 21 2005

Chinese Signs In Richmond: Should There Be A Limit?

Quote:

Two B.C. women will be asking Richmond city council to consider a policy that would limit how much Chinese can be displayed on business signs.

....

Starchuk's mission began with letters to the editor of local newspapers. The women say that store signs in Richmond have increasingly become Chinese-only, or have very little English on them.

....

In January, Joe Greenholtz, an immigration consultant and member of the Richmond Intercultural Advisory Committee argued that Chinese-only signage had nothing to do with multiculturalism and everything to do with business. He wrote in The Richmond News:

"The store owners are making a statement about the clientele they hope to attract — most of the stores I’ve wandered into with Chinese-only signs sell products that have no appeal for me and that I often can’t even identify.

It’s not about exclusionary practices, it’s a business decision about appealing to a defined demographic. Those who take offense at that, hiding behind the idea that it is somehow un-Canadian, or diminishes the capacity of immigrants to integrate, are feeling the pain of being irrelevant in their own backyards, for the first time."



Chinese signs in Richmond ‘way out of hand’ and ‘not inclusive’; delegation appealing to city council for more English

[bold added by moi]

Quote:

“We’re not saying there shouldn’t be Chinese language on signs,” Starchuk told the News.

“I’ve lived in Richmond all my life and I enjoy having so many different cultures in the city.

“But this isn’t right and it’s all the way through Richmond, not just the city centre and the lack of English is way out of proportion.”

Starchuk said if someone, such as city council, doesn’t “get a handle on it” soon, there may come a time when there’ll be no English to be seen.

“If this is our Canadian identity, then it’s not very inclusive is it?” said Starchuk, who added she won’t drive up the north end of No. 3 Road anymore because the predominantly Chinese signage.

“This is not cultural harmony because I have no idea what these signs, advertising and the real estate papers are saying.

“We value Richmond and we value our Canadian identity and I hope that comes across with our presentation.”


NorthReport
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Joined: Jul 6 2008

Maybe BC needs a Bill 101 for language!  Laughing

By-the-way that's a great card Maysie.


Maysie
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Joined: Apr 21 2005

Wow, NorthReport. Quebec bashing and Anglo-xenophobia in such a short post.

 


Maysie
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Joined: Apr 21 2005

In the second link from post #1 there's a very disturbing use of "food" imagery in the article describing the petition by these two fuckwads. Such a tone reiterates anti-Chinese racism of course, but in an attempt to be humourous. How charming. Not.


kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002

Given that people of Chinese descent have lived in BC since settlers started stealing the land from the original owners I suggest it is time we teach Pinyin to all our students in grade school.

I tried learning it as an adult and my language skills are not very good. When I could not stop calling my mother a horse I knew I was in trouble. If I had learned it at a younger age I think it might have gone better.

I worked in Richmond for three years and anytime a bunch of us went to lunch there were always two or three people who could translate the menu and order in the restaurants that had Chinese menus.  Pretty much every office in the city would be the same.

If this woman has so much trouble with the signage maybe she should ask one of her Chinese friends. After all with half the population being of Chinese descent she must have some. right?  Cool  


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

North Report, I realize you were trying to be funny at post #2, but these are pretty serious issues which don't lend themselves to casual humour. Please show more sensitivity in the future.

As for the two intrepid anglophones asking this concern-petition: fuck. off.

Actually, out of curiosity, I would like to know what the correct/allowable "proportion" of English to Chinese is. Maybe we can get a percentage?


6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

So she won't drive up #3 Road because she can't stand to see all the signs?

I think I see a solution in there somewhere.....


ygtbk
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Joined: Jul 16 2009

This seems pretty straightforward, in that posting a sign in Chinese (or any other language) does not injure possible readers of the sign. (If they don't understand it, no harm, no foul, right)? The state therefore has no business dictating what languages may be used in signs. 


Catchfire
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Joined: Apr 16 2003

Obviously the answer is to open more Cactus Clubs.


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

ygtbk wrote:

 The state therefore has no business dictating what languages may be used in signs. 

Depends:

Quote:
The material adduced in this Court did not justify the limit imposed on freedom of expression by ss. 58 and 69 of the Charter of the French Language. The material established the importance of the legislative purpose reflected in the Charter of the French Language ‑‑ the enhancement of the status of the French language in Quebec ‑‑ and that it was a response to a pressing and substantial concern ‑‑ the survival of the French language. The threat to the French language demonstrated to the government that it should, in particular, take steps to assure that the "visage linguistique" of Quebec would reflect the predominance of the French language. While the material indicated a rational connection between protecting the French language and assuring that the reality of Quebec society is communicated through the "visage linguistique", it did not demonstrate that the requirement of the use of French only in ss. 58 and 69 is either necessary for the achievement of the legislative purpose or proportionate to it. Whereas requiring the predominant display of the French language, even its marked predominance, would be proportional to the goal of promoting and maintaining a French "visage linguistique" in Quebec and therefore justified under s. 9.1 of the Quebec Charter and s. 1 of the Canadian Charter, requiring the exclusive use of French has not been so justified. French could be required in addition to any other language or it could be required to have greater visibility than that accorded to other languages. Accordingly, the limit imposed on freedom of expression by s. 58 of the Charter of the French Language is not justified under s. 9.1 of the Quebec Charter, and the limit imposed on freedom of expression by s. 69 of the Charter of the French Language is not justified under either s. 1 of the Canadian Charter or s. 9.1 of the Quebec Charter. Section 9.1 is a justificatory provision corresponding to s. 1 of the Canadian Charter subject, in its application, to a similar test of rational connection and proportionality.

[emphasis added]

The Bourassa government amended the law (Bill 101) in 1988 to conform with the Supreme Court decision by deleting French exclusivity and instead requiring French predominance on all commercial signs - and that's the way it remains to date.

Of course, the foundation of the Supreme Court's decision was the persuasive evidence of a legitimate legislative purpose, namely the need to protect the French language. It might be difficult to demonstrate that English is similarly threatened in North America because of some Chinese signs in Richmond.

 

 


ygtbk
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Joined: Jul 16 2009

@ Unionist: I am in favour of people being allowed to speak the language that they choose. You are not (unless I'm misunderstanding your position). I'm pretty sure that we're not going to have a meeting of the minds on this one.

However, do you agree that, regardless of possible defects in my reasoning, I'm reaching the correct conclusion for Richmond?

And how do you demonstrate that a language is threatened, anyway?


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

ygtbk wrote:

@ Unionist: I am in favour of people being allowed to speak the language that they choose.

Sure you are. But you're not in favour of anyone having to understand or communicate with them. A resident of Lethbridge who walks into a convenience store has a right to ask for Oreo cookies in Tibetan - but he has no right to expect anyone will pay attention. Same if s/he shows up in the emergency room. Or are you??

Quote:
I'm pretty sure that we're not going to have a meeting of the minds on this one.

Well actually, all I did was quote a passage from a Supreme Court of Canada decision. You may have to take up your disagreement with the Supreme Court. I'm just the messenger. Hold your fire.

Quote:
However, do you agree that, regardless of possible defects in my reasoning, I'm reaching the correct conclusion for Richmond?

Yes. And I agree with Catchfire. Those who have trouble with all those Chinese signs should fuck off. In English, of course.

Quote:
And how do you demonstrate that a language is threatened, anyway?

Search me. I guess you'd have to read the full decision of the Court (did you?) and possibly even locate some of the evidence upon which it relied to reach its conclusion.

Actually, I don't care much for individual rights. I think that people, first and foremost, have responsibilities to their fellow human beings and to the environment. Any rights they have flow from that. Otherwise, you could grant them rights on paper, but they wouldn't be worth the... you know.

 


lagatta
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Joined: Apr 17 2002

I believe that there are several jurisdictions where signage has to be in the official language or languages of the country or region. I know France has rules that signs have to be in French - they are certainly in other languages as well, whether in touristy districts or "ethnic" businesses. It can be a health issue if food is sold.


ygtbk
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Joined: Jul 16 2009

Unionist wrote:

Quote:
However, do you agree that, regardless of possible defects in my reasoning, I'm reaching the correct conclusion for Richmond?

Yes. And I agree with Catchfire. Those who have trouble with all those Chinese signs should fuck off. In English, of course.

Quote:
And how do you demonstrate that a language is threatened, anyway?

Search me. I guess you'd have to read the full decision of the Court (did you?) and possibly even locate some of the evidence upon which it relied to reach its conclusion.

Actually, I don't care much for individual rights.

The last point is obvious. I do care about individual rights. And I do not think that the Supreme Court of Canada gets it right every time. I will read the decision, but if it concludes that without legislative support, the French language would die out in Quebec, I will be extremely surprised.


kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002

lagatta wrote:

I believe that there are several jurisdictions where signage has to be in the official language or languages of the country or region. I know France has rules that signs have to be in French - they are certainly in other languages as well, whether in touristy districts or "ethnic" businesses. It can be a health issue if food is sold.

The question in this thread is do you think Richmond should be one of those regions. 

I don't quite understand the health issue. If the signage is not in the dominant language does that mean the cooks are not preparing food properly?


Unionist
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Joined: Dec 11 2005

ygtbk wrote:

The last point is obvious. I do care about individual rights. And I do not think that the Supreme Court of Canada gets it right every time. I will read the decision, but if it concludes that without legislative support, the French language would die out in Quebec, I will be extremely surprised.

You never addressed my point. Does my right to speak Cornish create an obligation on anyone to listen to or respond to or serve me? I believe it doesn't.

When I moved to Québec, I felt an obligation to learn to speak French. It was a matter of respect for the the vast majority who make up the society and an obligation not to ghettoize myself within some community just because I couldn't communicate with people. But no one forced me to learn anything or not to speak English.

Pogo wrote:
The solution is to find ways to bring people together so that understanding can grow.

I agree, partly - because I believe that life itself either brings people together (so that they need to communicate with each other) or it doesn't. Immigrants arriving in most parts of Canada will have a hard time holding down a job for long periods of time without learning English or French or, much less likely, an Indigenous language (depending on where). Kids going to school will learn one of those languages. In my experience, "bringing people together" in artificial ways, rather than through the absolute inevitability of life experience, doesn't lead to communication.

 


6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

@ Pogo #17

I guess my question (and to you too, k) is if you think these people have any chance of going anywhere with this, because frankly they sound like cranks to me. The only understanding that needs to happen as far as I can see is for them to get over it. I have never lived n Richmond, but I remember when I lived in Vancouver at least one mall where there was hardly a word of english. Big deal.

I remember the "ethnic malls" issue in Calgary, but that was one bureaucrat's report,  as far as I know nothing came of it after people rightly called it for what it was.

http://www.canada.com/Call+limit+ethnic+malls+Calgary+angers+Chinese+res...

 


NorthReport
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Joined: Jul 6 2008

Maybe I'm wrong but I have not heard of this being an issue in Chinatown and why not? Are we dealing with less tolerant folks in the suburbs perhaps?

----------------------------------------------

There sure are a variety of opinions, some quite heated in the comments section. 

http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/residents-petition-against-chinese-only-sig...


kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002

I never underestimate racists.  These women might have young boys they are raising to hate people based on race and language.  I am not in the majority on this issue but I really think that apologizing for the head tax is a tiny insignificant symbolic gesture.  If we really wanted to undo the century old anti-Chinese racism we would be teaching our children in this province to speak both languages. Somehow the fact that people who grow up in the Netherlanders all learn multiple languages hasn't stopped them from speaking Dutch.

We either embrace the fact that BC settler history is a history of Chinese immigrants not just white Europeans or we will remain a society with its racism merely thinly veiled. I know first generation immigrants from China and I know Canadian citizens whose ancestors moved here from China over a hundred years ago.  That is the BC I live in and want to celebrate.


ryanw
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Joined: May 24 2012

allergies maybe for food products

although that can have separate, non-prominent signage to accomodate that need

 


Left Turn
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Joined: Mar 28 2005

[Double post]

 


Left Turn
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Joined: Mar 28 2005

Catchfire wrote:
Obviously the answer is to open more Cactus Clubs.

Um, Cactus Club is under boycott because they serve Israeli wines. Until such time as they agree not to I'd b prefer for Cactus Club to go out of business.

kropotkin1951 wrote:
If we really wanted to undo the century old anti-Chinese racism we would be teaching our children in this province to speak both languages. Somehow the fact that people who grow up in the Netherlanders all learn multiple languages hasn't stopped them from speaking Dutch.

We either embrace the fact that BC settler history is a history of Chinese immigrants not just white Europeans or we will remain a society with its racism merely thinly veiled. I know first generation immigrants from China and I know Canadian citizens whose ancestors moved here from China over a hundred years ago.  That is the BC I live in and want to celebrate.

+1

kropotking1951 wrote:
I am not in the majority on this issue but I really think that apologizing for the head tax is a tiny insignificant symbolic gesture.

Obviously much more than head tax redress is needed to address the racism against Chinese immigrants in Canada, but I still think head tax redress is important. Certainly those Chinese people who took up the fight for head tax redress thought it was important, and I'm not going to tell them otherwise.

As for the main issue in this thread, I think it's great that the Chinese immigrants who come here and don't speak English actually have places where they can read the signage. If it helps to make their experience of coming here a little less stressful and alienating, I'm all for it. As others have already said upthread, those who think the way the two women who created this petition do can fuck off.


ygtbk
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Joined: Jul 16 2009

Unionist wrote:

ygtbk wrote:

The last point is obvious. I do care about individual rights. And I do not think that the Supreme Court of Canada gets it right every time. I will read the decision, but if it concludes that without legislative support, the French language would die out in Quebec, I will be extremely surprised.

You never addressed my point. Does my right to speak Cornish create an obligation on anyone to listen to or respond to or serve me? I believe it doesn't.

I never addressed this point because, if anything, it supports my initial post. If A puts up a sign in Chinese, and B, but not C, can read it, then since C is not harmed, there is no legitimate reason for the state to intervene. No-one is forced to do anything.


lagatta
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Joined: Apr 17 2002

Yes, the food thing is basically about allergies. Otherwise, all of this strikes me as a non-issue. The kids will all speak English, such is the power of the imperial language (though actually, Turkish, Moroccan, Chinese etc kids in the Netherlands all learn Dutch). There have always been ethnic clusters when there are significant numbers of migrants from a given region, language, cultural or religious group who have limited skills in the culture and language of the target country. These create not only "cultural comfort" but are an important network for jobs, housing and other necessities of life. Obviously the older ones are more "charming", the effect of time passed and them becoming touristy to some extent, but also the toxic shittiness of car-dependent postwar development, whether of ethnic clusters, the majority group or a mix.

For example, the Montréal district with the highest concentration of people of Italian descent is neither old Petite-Italie (where I live) or its spin-off in the former city of Saint-Léonard (which is a short drive or bus ride eastwards) but in the utterly drab and boring Rivière-des-prairies district, which is nothing but shitty car-dependent sprawl, some of it opulent, some of it much more modest.

Our oldest Chinatown is tiny; it was never as large as Toronto's (obviously to say nothing of Vancouver's original one or later ones!) and a good part of it as destroyed in a shameful expropriation for the Guy-Favreau Federal building and the Complexe-Desjardins, which is a shopping mall but also houses Québec government services including Revenu-Québec (the older Hydro-Québec building and Revenue-Canada are very close by). Elderly Chinese people still gather in the concourse under Guy-Favreau, bringing some salutary life and laughter to that dismal place.

kropotkin, which Chinese language would you have pupils learn?


kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002

As I said up thread Pinyin or Simplified Chinese would be the language to teach our students to read Chinese.  Mandarin is the dominant Chinese language now although it used to be Cantonese in earlier generations.

I agree that all the second generation children I know use English as a first language. There is no concern that Chinese will become the dominant language in my lifetime but if it did so what. 

In 1874 as soon as the province joined Confederation they stripped the Chinese and FN's men of their right to vote in elections. Before joining with the two dominant settler groups in the Canadian federation BC followed British laws and all men had the vote. The Japaneses were excluded in 1885 but in the hierarchy of racism the Japanese were always treated better than the Chinese.  I am sure it was comforting for the Chinese that their right to speak both English and French was guaranteed when they lost the right to vote. I wonder what my province would be like if we had not excluded Asians from our society but instead had embraced them as equals.

http://www.elections.bc.ca/index.php/resource-centre/electoral-history-o...


kropotkin1951
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Joined: Jun 6 2002

DP


6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

That allergy thing is a red herring. It's not something you ordinarily post on outdoor signage, or a menu. And any place I have ever been with a second chinese menu it is usually hand-written on a whiteboard. Allergy is something I'd ask a waiter about, and even then you can never be sure what has touched what. A former colleague of mine died after eating food in a restaurant when he was told it had not been prepared with peanut.

Of course the simplest way to communicate is the same way you see it on most packaging - with a symbol. And since Quebec was mentioned it is worth remembering that the first place in the world to start using those non-language symbols we now see on every crosswalk and bathroom was Quebec - at Expo 67.

This is about people who can't figure out why it's not all about them. If it wasn't this they'd be complaining about other people hanging their laundry, or what they cook.


6079_Smith_W
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Joined: Jun 10 2010

That still has nothing to do with the signage that seems to be repelling these poor sensitive people and preventing them from driving down public streets.

I think if you go into these markets you will find that pretty much everything from a bag of black beans to a clay jar of fermented tofu will have a paper Nutrition Facts label stuck onto it, in french and english, because that's the law. I have seen a few exceptions in the spice aisle and in the medicines, and of course, gluten in a pail is gluten in a pail.

I can't say the same for some of the bulk bins or health food stores. But that's "normal" food.

 

 


onlinediscountanvils
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Joined: Jun 7 2012

Pogo wrote:
The Richmond malls have little of the tourist flair that dominates Chinatown.

 

Ah, but Richmond has the better night market.


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