in april 2010, i learned from CBC radio that Nova Scotia is to house Canada’s immigration museum at Pier 21. apparently, the decision was made a couple months prior.

i moved away from there around the same time… with a very dirty taste in my mouth. as a visible minority and racialized, child of two immigrant parents, born, raised, and participant in its institutions, i am less than amused about the potential for the museum to promote the image of Nova Scotia as an accepting place to land.

sure, my parents lived the “american dream”. but they suffered horribly due to barriers that were explicit forms of racial discrimination. many social science undergraduate students in Canada will know of the injustices to black high school students in Cole Harbour, that, until recently,were purported by officials as merely teen antics.

in my own experience, i saw “white vs black” battles split student bodies, my multi-cultural group of friends separate into social cliques and physical ghettos, was called every slur-name in the book as a kid, and cat-called every exotic-name as a teen. as an adult, i witness others go through the same experiences as my parents, and as i have and did while living there most recently.

in my wildest dreams, the museum will ratify the injustices that occurred, and continue to occur to immigrants establishing themselves in NS. realistically, i know this highly unlikely. i’m sorry.

excuse me as i raise a weary eyebrow to the state’s “sorry” state. even for Nova Scotia’s most recent apology and pardon for the racist jailing of viola desmond for sitting in the whites’ section of a theatre over 60 years ago. i can’t help but think it’s all part of a multicultural public relations campaign to attract international students, new immigrants, and tourists from the rest of Canada, who may be inclined to go… say, anywhere else instead.

surely i understand the desire to attract “foreign investment” to this province, but i could not comfortably recommend NS as a good place for any visible minority that is new to Canada. Immigrant integration services are sparse and tools to succeed as an international student suck compared to many cities in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia. of course, maybe that’s the point? the province one “lands” in gets a huge lump sum, whether or not one stays. international students pay tuition fees that are nearly three times more than the price for domestic students. whereas both student groups have similar attrition rates, the internationals have often been fiercely hunted to bolster the domestics. one failed international student + one failed domestic student = tuition for one 4-year domestic undergraduate. better yet, if the international student makes it to year 2 on his/her own volition, marks for the student body go up and the university now gets the equivalent of 5-6 years of tuition.

at best, i perceive government messaging to “incorporate” immigrants as well-meaning but offensive; and partly to blame for reifying model minority stereotypes. this leaves individuals stuck on un-learning the spectrum of stereotypes from the media around them, (potentially, hopefully?, with the help of this “immigration museum”), rather than in a face-to-face dialogue.

why nova scotia infuriates me

February 16, 2010

there will always be a part of nova scotia that stays with me*, but this post is about my anger towards this province.

the extreme prices of food are one aspect. while locally sourced blueberries, milk, and seafood are quite abundant and delicious, the prices are exorbitant. i’ve met blueberry farmers that sell every single berry to U.S. companies, for various reasons, which are related to the ongoing struggle of food prices faced by farms and communities who purchase the berries back from their round-trip “vacation”.

something is also askew when working an hour for minimum wage barely makes the purchase milk accessible at the sale price of $7.50 for 4 litres of milk. that is, if one works.  as of January 2010, the unemployment rate is 9.8%.  according to a Statistics Canada release Nova Scotia was the only province to increase its unemployment rate since July 2009, by 0.2%, whereas the national average decreased by 0.1%. not that i want to get into the health implications here (or even claim milk is superior to other drinks at all), but you wonder why one might prefer soda, at 99cents for 2 litres compared to milk?

meanwhile,  NS seafood farmers champion the “locality” of their goods over foreign products, but export their goods around the world and source labour from offshore workers and temporary immigrant workers.

immigration what effect of cost savings?

something doesn’t add up: high unemployment among naturalized citizens + immigrant workers + “local” food sold “globally”…

the common thread tying together this factors, in an inequitable equation for the unemployed, immigrants, and those who experience food insecurity is the Nova Scotia government. as well as “hire an immigrant” programs, government funding is provided for initiatives such as “select nova scotia” and many food security projects. partnerships including farming associations, government, academics, tourism industry partners, social/community agencies, consumer groups, and others appear to be a great start. but these problems are not new, and despite making new governmentally supported friendships, the same people are suffering exploitation and subordination by (now explicitly sanctioned) social, economic, and politically cemented projects.

i soon plan to write about what positively stands out about the social, politic, and economic aspects of nova scotia. in the meantime, peruse some of its natural beauty at: flandrum hill