So there was this CBC-Angus Reid poll. You may have heard about it, or at least seen it while scrolling through your social media feeds this week. It was called the "Canadian Values" poll and it found, according to the original CBC headline, that Canadians want minorities to do more to 'fit in.' This poll made news because it revealed 68 per cent of Canadians thinking minorities should be "doing more to fit in" with mainstream society instead of keeping their own customs and languages. But what I found out after contacting Angus Reid was that 87 per cent of those respondents were white.
No one knows what my family is, or how exactly we all relate to each other at first sight, but it's always been a question of where we come from, and implicitly, a question of what we're doing here at all. I have never met someone who shares my ethnic mix (outside of my brother) in my entire life. My grandma divorced her husband. My mom ran off and married a black dude. They've never said it to my face, but I've figured that a lot of the amazing and independent choices my parents made as women didn't totally click with a lot of what India was telling women to be back in the day.
A citizen's advocacy group has recently called Sophie Grégoire Trudeau out for accepting gifts and loans of clothing from Canadian fashion labels, deeming her "for sale" for daring to wear support for our country's industry on her sleeve. I can see how gifts and loans can make for some bad optics, even if the role of prime minister's wife has little real political oomph behind it. However, in a world where few powerful individuals direct their influence toward social good like Grégoire Trudeau does, Democracy Watch's threadbare argument seems to be more about populist-pleasing celebrity shaming than hypothetical conflicts of interests.
I speculate that Toronto Fashion Week was unable to secure a key sponsor, which significantly impacted its operating budget. It is a shame that it was unable to secure a new sponsor. Perhaps an alternative sponsor opportunity may come to fruition. Unfortunately, there is another type of funding that is not available.
The Canadian propensity for self-aggrandizement is in form these days. It started with the massive coverage of the arrival of Syrian refugees at Pearson International Airport in December. While many were drowning in self-congratulations, all I could think about was a scene from Woody Allen's 1973 film, Sleeper.
The new light in which his decision is inevitably being seen after the despicable acts in Paris makes it important to revisit the issue, which is bigger than the press sometimes lets on. Because Trudeau's decision is not a political one. On the contrary, it is cultural. His decision to stop bombing speaks to what can only be seen as a fulfillment of national identity. Even before Paris, it seemed that nothing in the world could divide Canadians as definitively as their opinion of whether Canada should be dropping bombs in the Middle East.
In light of recent announcements that the current government plans to sell off the CBC buildings across this land -- the very art of cultural commentary might not be long for this nation. As Harper slowly dismantles every political and cultural institution intrinsic to the Canadian way of life I wonder -- will the future Joni Mitchells, Leonard Cohens and Neil Youngs be left to fend for themselves?
There are a range of reasons people have asked me about my background and reasons I'm curious about yours. Maybe I've traveled to your country of heritage and would like to share my experience; I'd like to visit one day and would welcome your insights. We shouldn't have to pretend not to see skin colour, hear accents, or recognize features. No, we're not all the same -- but why is that the goal?
You simply cannot live in Canada and ignore the past. It's a pretty strong statement but reading the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission into Aboriginal residential schools, that's the conclusion I've come to. The truth may be out but the reconciliation is going to take a while. So just as all Canadians share accountability for what is past, we also share a responsibility for making things better.
I attended a conference on Canadian culture to which several dozen undergraduate students came by bus from cities several hours away. They had learned about Canada from teachers who themselves had benefited from the tiny grants which once allowed them to visit Canada or order the books and other materials on which their teaching depended.
As a chef, culture is an inspiration. Food is such a huge part of what is known as "culture" and I feel blessed to have learned about and experienced so many impressive cultures through their food. From Jamaican jerk spice to traditional Korean kimchi, whenever you think of culture, food is intrinsically tied to its experience -- and these experiences have inspired my cooking, which has had an incredible impact on my career and my life.
Jacques Bensimon, former head of the National Film Board, passed away on Sunday. Jacques had astonishing generosity of spirit. No matter if you were an executive, a junior producer, the editor on the night shift, or a new international contact or a Board Member, Jacques spent his lifetime leading and guiding creatives and broadcast executives alike towards one goal: the preservation of Canadian culture.
So I'm standing outside "The Barn" restaurant ("It's called The Barn because all the animals go there" I was once told), having a smoke, and some hapless soul walks up and asks me for a cigarette. That'll teach me to open up a full pack on Queen Street. As I hand this guy his smoke, he looks at me, and in all sincerity asks "Do you know Tony?".