Sunday, 16 March 2008

Sikh parade held on weekend leading up to St. Patrick's Day. Coincidence or act of cultural aggression?

A parade was held in Burnaby, British Columbia organized by Sikhs to honour the "revolutionary saint" Shri Guru Ravidass. You can read about it here. Now, I would have ignored this but the fact the the event organizers planned it for March 15, 2008 got me thinking. The March 15th weekend is the weekend before St. Patrick's day which is on the 17th and as we all know you can always expect a parade to mark the day along with green beer and bad fake Irish accents.

There are 365 days in the year. There are 52 weekends. Why did the Sikh parade organizers decide on the weekend of St. Patrick's day? Bad planning? Ignorance? Please. I am sure these Sikhs have been in Canada long enough to know that March 17th is St. Patrick's day and the celebration of all things Irish which essentially means stereotyping the Irish as drunken louts. And if they honestly didn't know, which is highly unlikely, they could have consulted their calendar. You know, the one they used to decide which day to have a parade, that marks March 17th as St. Patrick's day in very clear bold lettering.

I get the suspicion that this Sikh parade was deliberately planned to coincide with St. Patrick's day to either piggy back off the popularity of St. Patty's day or to directly compete with it. St. Patrick's day honours a Christian Saint. The Sikhs honoured a Sikh saint. Parades mark the arrival of St. Patrick's day on March 17th. The Sikhs had a parade to honour their Saint on March 15th. St. Patrick's day is an event marked on calenders across the Anglo-sphere. The Sikhs, well I guess they're working on it and if their parade is meant to be an annual event then I imagine they are gunning for March 15th, two day before the day of St. Patrick.

I don't really care for St. Patrick's day. I don't consider St. Patrick's day a Canadian event. It's just an excuse to get drunk from what I can tell. But the Irish are part of the founding/settler people of Canada so I suppose St. Patrick's day does have a place. Sikhs, and South Asians as a people, are not founding/settlers. In fact, they are still a foreign people where almost 75% of South Asian Canadians are immigrants, which means they are just South Asians with Canadian citizenship that's all. But they can have their parades to honour their religious figures if they want so why plan one to coincide with St. Patrick's day when there are 51 other weekends to choose from?

If this is an act of cultural aggression, which I suspect it is, then we can expect more of this kind of behaviour in a future Canada where multicultural dialogue means competition for public attention. In this kind of Canada real Canadian history is forgotten and any real Canadian identity is erased to give way to histories and cultures formed abroad. In effect Canada ceases to exist as a real country.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

This practice of "piggy-backing" often occurs when establishing a new car dealership or the placement of another coffee shop on the opposite corner of of a business rival..... but now ethnic rivals competing for established calendar dates??

Well, if that's how they want to play the game, then I suggest they hold their Sikh parade every February 29th.

That odious program named "Little Mosque on the Prairies" is another example of "stealing our thunder" by naming it after the similarly named "Little House on the Prairies" from the '70's or '80's.

.....and when can we expect to celebrate a White History month to coincide with the Black History month held every February for a mere 2% of Canada's population?

M. Singh said...

Firstly, this is not a parade sponsored by the Sikh faith or the Sikh community. The Saint Ravidas is honoured by the Sikh faith because his writings are in the Sikh scriptures. However, this parade was by his followers, the Ravidas Faith.

Secondly, your statement that this is "cultural aggression," is ridiculous at best. Do you think non-white people are a bunch of gorillas? Maybe you do. But the term "cultural aggression" seems to connote a type of purposeful contempt of Europeans by non-Europeans. I think this is a facade.

There are parades, festivals, etc. every single day in Canada. Some coincide with European historic events and some don't. I think this is purely a coincidence and you are trying to make something of it which isn't there. I believe, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the people who organized this parade didn't intend to be "aggressive" or "competitive" with St. Patrick's Day.

Furthermore, St. Patrick's Day celebrations are MORONIC - people don't talk about community, love, truth, and faith. They get drunk on green beer. So which festival is "aggressive" and which is "positive?" If the founding communities of our great nation of Canada have some functions which are stupid, should we still maintain them just because of tradition?

In any case, the most obvious fault in your argument is the fact that the dates are different. St. Patrick's Day is the 17th, and this parade was on the 15th, two days before. Are you trying to say that just because the Irish have been in Canada for 200 years, there is a buffer-zone of a whole week before anyone can do anything in Canada? Maybe they should close parliament for the week of St. Patrick's Day to respect our founding Irish community. This is purely ridiculous.

m. singh said...

One more thing --- as far as I know, there isn't even a St. Patrick's Day parade in Burnaby! It's in Downtown Vancouver! So you're high on some green of your own buddy.

A. White said...

Do you think non-white people are a bunch of gorillas?

When the shoe fits...St. Patrick's is a "feast day" celebrating his saintliness, moron.

If the founding communities of our great nation of Canada have some functions which are stupid, should we still maintain them just because of tradition?

Good point! Mass immigration of non-Europeans is a stupid function which deserves to end immediately.

PaxCanadiana said...

m. singh:

What I mean by cultural aggression is the willful and forceful imposition of one's culture onto another to either alter the other culture or directly compete with it or replace it entirely. Some early examples involving Sikhs is the RCMP uniform and the Canadian legion as well as efforts to make Punjabi an official Canadian language. A foreign example is what China is doing in Tibet. As for the parade, in this instance I think the Sikh parade organizers deliberately choose March 15th to coincide with St. Patrick's day celebrations. And if they intend to make it an annual event then they will be competing with St. Patrick's day for cultural attention which I think is the point.

From what I can tell from the news footage it sure does look like a parade organized by Sikhs. It may not be sponsored by the Sikh community as a whole, at least officially, but it attracted Sikhs from the U.S., U.K., and France so some concerted effort went into organizing this event.

But that's aside the point. The fact of the matter is that Sikhs organized and held a four hour parade on the streets of Burnaby, the first of its kind in Canada, to honour a revered Saint of the Sikh faith two days before St. Patrick's day. Why did they choose March 15th? You'd think they would choose a day during the summer months, a time most suitable for parades, but they didn't.

There are parades, festivals, etc. every single day in Canada.

Really? What parade, festival, etc. happened today, March 20, 2008.

Furthermore, St. Patrick's Day celebrations are MORONIC - people don't talk about community, love, truth, and faith. They get drunk on green beer.

I can the feel the tolerance. Sadly I have experienced the same disparaging sentiments from immigrants towards Canadian culture. Makes me wonder why the hell they are here in the first place. How you feel about St. Patrick's day is irrelevant. What is is that St. Patrick's day is rooted in Canadian history and heritage, like Halloween and Christmas, because the founder/settler people brought it here with them. Sikh culture, I have to say, is an introduced culture after the fact and therefore has no claim to Canadian history or heritage. Sorry.

In any case, the most obvious fault in your argument is the fact that the dates are different. St. Patrick's Day is the 17th, and this parade was on the 15th, two days before.

St. Patrick's day is the 17th and the parades occur on that day and the day before it, the 16th. The Sikhs had their parade on the 15th. They couldn't plan their parade on a closer date without it overlapping. Are you trying to tell me that's a coincidence, a gaff, on the parade organizers part?

I do not wish to make the impression that I am picking on the Sikh faith and its adherents. For the record there are admirable things about that faith. But I am tired of the Sikh community in Canada "picking fights", so to speak, with the host population they choose to immigrate to under the guise of equality, human rights, or religious freedom. The Sikhs chose to come here. No one forced them to. Canada offers the Sikhs many opportunities for a better life but that doesn't seem to be good enough. They will challenge Canadian cultural institutions and laws at anytime and anywhere not because they seek equality but becuase the have no desire to integrate into Canadian society all the while demanding the benefits of living in it. They are "culturally aggressive" and this parade is just another salvo in the war they seem to have declared on the Canadian identity. The Sikhs picked the fight, not Canadians. All Canadians did was open their borders to them and this is the thanks they get. Please!

Anonymous said...

i find it ironic that the irish are venerated as founder/settlers in these comments when in actuality they experienced profound discrimination at the hands of the english (both in canada and in ireland.) the same fears you express over non-european immigration were expressed over the irish (too many of em, too un-civilized, will breed crime, amoral... will destroy society etc etc..) incidentally, so did each subsequent wave of european settlers in varying degrees (read your history)including the germans, italians, the poles and of course the jews.

which gets me thinking..sikh culture is not canadian culture now, just as irish culture was not considered canadian culture then, maybe in a 100 years we will consider it canadian?!!

what exactly is canadian culture--> is it white culture? if its white culture---> are you refering to english, scottish, french, german, italian,jewish (are the part of the club?!!) ukranian...so many groups-->each with such differing histories, languages, practices yet they qualify as canadian? i just don't understand the logic here- i may be missing something though.

btw, sikhs helped build this country as well...and for crying out loud they fought and died along with whites in the world wars on the side of the good guys...lest we forget

Andrew White said...

Possibly you should reread your Cdn history, sans the anti-British propaganda.

There was blame enough to go around. Irish coroners' juries sitting on deaths by starvation would give verdicts of “Willful murder by Lord John Russell”, who was responsible for tariff laws that caused food to be exported, whereas non-Irishmen thought that basing your whole economy on a potato might be considered careless.

But in Canada’s eastern province of New Brunswick, they would get boatloads of a thousand people, with no food, little clothing, and no prospects of better.

So destitute were the people on their arrival [at St. John, N. B.] that the legislature voted £1500 sterling to alleviate the distress and a further sum of £1500 was collected in St. John. The victims of the famine were crowded into emigrant ships while in a low state of health and suffered from typhus on the voyage…In the month of June 35 vessels arrived with 5800 passengers and during the summer about 15,00 Irish immigrants were landed at Partridge Island. The total mortality was upward of 200 persons. Their bodies lie in nameless graves and their story is indeed a sad one.

The Faraway Hills Are Green, by Sheelagh Conway, Page 87

This was when the continent hadn’t been settled, of course. New Brunswick was largely miles and miles of trees. They had plenty of room. But I don’t know where they dug up the £3000.

In 1847, at the height of the famine, Irish Immigration peaked with some 74,000 arrivals at Quebec City alone. [Ten percent of these were Protestant, by the way.]

Overcrowded and filthy “fever ships” docked at the quarantine station set up on Grosse Île. On board lay hundreds of dead, destitute women men and children, many of them dying of cholera. During the summer of 1847, the recorded death rate hit forty or fifty a day. Often, corpses lay everywhere aboard ship. The living could not move, much less tend to the dead. Official statistics for Grosse Île show that between May 10 and July 24 , 1847 some 4,572 people died on the voyage, on the ships at Grosse Île and in tents on the island. Another 1,458 people, including infants and children, died in the makeshift hospital on the island.

[Anti-British propaganda omitted for lack of enthusiasm.]

Quebec authorities were overwhelmed as hospital staff and clergy tried to cope. Landings and inspections came under military command, and soldiers policed the island to make sure the health stayed apart from the sick, and prevent the spread of disease.

Once they got clearance at Grosse Île., the Famine refugees moved on. Weakened and emaciated, many were already ill with cholera and typhus as they traveled on to Montreal, Kingston, Ottawa and the U.S. border at Detroit. In each of these cities, fever sheds had to be set up to accommodate the sick and dying.

The Canadian response varied from hostility to sacrifice

Andrew White said...

With the exception of the Jews, the European people you list do not have a great genetic distance between them. Phenotypically they are very similar. The reason they assimilated was because immigration by the 1930's except from British Commonwealth/US origin came to a grinding halt not changing until the treachery of Diefenbaker/Pearson.

Mass immigration of distant people into an ethny's homeland means, ultimately, extinction. If a Sikh migrated to HongKong a century ago, would s/he now be Chinese? Ask the Sikhs if they are willing to embrace the migration of millions of sub-Saharan Africans into their Punjabi homeland marrying Sikh girls, and changing the character of their native land?

PaxCanadiana said...

anon:

I do not consider "english, scottish, french, german, italian,jewish (are the part of the club?!!) ukranian" as Canadian or "part of the club" as you put it. That's why it is called English culture or Ukrainian culture or Irish culture or Sikh culture. It's not Canadian culture.

If you bothered yourself to read what I wrote I said I do not consider St. Patrick's day a Canadian event. It's an Irish holiday tradition that managed to root itself in all of the Anglosphere (U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand) because of Irish immigration and our penchant for beer drinking which is cross cultural.

The crux of my argument are ethnic groups competing for national attention for their particular cultural celebrations. How is this integration? How is this forming any unique Canadian identity? Where can the Canadian be found in any of these "heritage wars" when cultural identity is rooted in a foreign land?

i find it ironic that the irish are venerated as founder/settlers in these comments when in actuality they experienced profound discrimination at the hands of the english (both in canada and in ireland.)

The discrimination against the Irish by the English goes back centuries and continued in the new world and that should not be surprising given English/Irish history. Nevertheless, discrimination aside, these poor Christian European immigrants were a segment of the rest of the poor Christian European immigrants who came to Canada with literally nothing (unlike the middle class third world immigrants of today) and helped create the Canada that we enjoy and many immigrants feel they are entitled to (it's a human right I guess). I am not venerating them. I am stating a historical fact and that should be acknowledged. However, for the sake of multiculturalism and to spare the feelings of particular groups of immigrants we have to forget the fact that poor European Christian immigrants founded and settled this country because to do so would to admit that Canada has a history and a heritage rooted in Christian Europe of the Enlightenment and quite frankly I am proud that Canada is a product of it.

sikh culture is not canadian culture now, just as irish culture was not considered canadian culture then, maybe in a 100 years we will consider it canadian?!!

Irish culture is not Canadian culture. We just celebrate St. Patrick's day and that's it. Gaelic traditions may be more dominant in parts of Canada like Cape Breton but how that translates into Irish culture = Canadian culture I do not know but if you can show me elsewhere in the Canadian national identity where Irish culture is the Canadian identity I would like to know. And since Irish culture is not Canadian culture then neither is Sikh culture, not even in 100 years.

what exactly is canadian culture

I don't need to answer that question because it should be obvious and it is also a trap. That question is asked by people who want to say that Canada has no cultural traditions of its own and therefore has nothing to defend. And, since Canada is a nation of immigrants therefore every culture one brings to Canada is Canadian culture by default, no need to assimilate, no need to integrate, no need to preserve what was already here. That being the case then how can any unique Canadian identity be forged out of such a mindset where nothing and everything is Canadian culture? It's nonsense and this is why I am opposed to official multiculturalism and the mass immigration system that fuels it. Multiculturalism is an enemy to a unique national identity that is stabilizing and uniting. Multiculturalism cannot accomplish this. Also, there is no racial component to being Canadian.

btw, sikhs helped build this country as well...

How? Give examples and the more historical the better. A rich Sikh investor opening a business in Surrey, B.C. in 1995 doesn't cut it.

and for crying out loud they fought and died along with whites in the world wars on the side of the good guys...lest we forget

Really? Which battles? Were they being gassed in the trenches in Europe during WW1? Were they storming Juno beach? The Boer war? Korea? Afghanistan? Or do you mean to say Sikhs fought indirectly
for Canada under the umbrella of the British empire. Sikhs may have fought alongside whites in war but I am concerned with Canadian examples. To say they fought alongside whites to imply they fought for Canadian freedom and therefore we owe them something is disingenuous and manipulative.

Anonymous said...

Why can't people just get along. So what if they celebrated the two in the same week? We are human beings before we are Irish, or Sikh, or any other ethnicity for that matter.