When I was 9 years old and living in the (then) Toronto suburb of Scarborough I was chowing down on Chinese food with my parents, and an East Indian family.
Our host was a man named Joe Pereira.
Joe and my Dad, Joseph O’Mara, became friends after being coworkers at a Scarborough insurance company.
I didn’t think much about it at the time but now I’m wondering if the Caucasian managers, adjusters and office folk thought, without saying it out loud, “Joe is friends with that Paki?”
We’re talking about the early ’70s.
At school, we told Paki jokes. And African American jokes that painted them as people with big lips who couldn’t possibly own anything unless they had stolen it. Stick their lips to a wall. What do you call a (n word) with a new bike? A thief.
I don’t know if comments were made behind Dad’s back. I’m hoping not. His managers did give us Leafs tickets a few times a year, mostly for games against the likes of the California Golden Seals.
That’s Reggie Leach, I’m a Flyers fan. Leach is First Nations, Ojibwe.
Dad always sided with the targets of abuse or anyone he felt was being unfairly maligned, Maybe it’s because he had a neurological disorder similar to MS. As much as he laughed at “A Fish Called Wanda”, Joe O’Mara cringed over every scene that featured Michael Palin’s stuttering character.
I know what Dad was thinking. There’s nothing amusing about stuttering. I have a disorder, so does he.
Dad would have slayed people on social media.
That ridiculous “Canada is soft” rant circulating on Facebook? Dad would have ripped it to shreds.
Canada is not soft. It’s a nation of strong willed , tougher-than-most people. We are resilient, We appreciate the support of our neighbours when things aren’t going so well. We donate to local food banks, and to causes around the globe.
We love our country, and those aboard suffering through civil wars, drought and dictatorships.
I was born in Manchester, England. So, imagine if, in 1965, the Canadian government had said my family was not welcome here. Your home is being appropriated for a new motorway, tough darts.
One of my best friends in life is a man I met over 30 years ago. Chinese, but American born. His family owns may California properties including Seabowl in Pacifica. Could have bowl there for hours and hours for free but I thanks to my “Cuz”I just drank and ate for free. My Cuz was drafted to fight in Vietnam. Deserted. Ended up in Wiarton, Ontario (home of that famous groundhog) and married a local girl.
One of my favourite Facebook friends is Farah Nasser. A few years back, Farah was diagnosed with polyarteritis nodarosa, which affects “the medium-sized arteries, which become swollen and damaged from being attacked by rogue immune cells.”
Admission from yours truly. I developed a crush on Farah back when she anchored the weekend news on City TV. Dad had a crush on Lisa LaFlamme.
The apple does not fall far from the tree.
Facebook is full of extremes. If I am here and you are way over there and there’s no chance of us meeting in the middle, farewell. Unfriend me. I will not be offended. Call me a snowflake. Maybe I am, If that means standing up for those who are being attacked simply by the colour of their skin or because you think white British or European immigrants are more Canadian than a Syrian refugee escaping atrocities we thankfully have never even imagined….
No, not gonna go there.
Pictured above is Uncle Ming’s Chinese Restaurant in Wasaga Beach. I moved to the beach in 2007 and back then, the storefront was not very inviting. Mom moved to Wasaga just after Christmas that year and, after my twice-a-year church visit, we had lunch at Uncle Ming’s. It was the only restaurant open on Christmas Day.
Too early to cook the turkey so we went there for a drink. Mom said, “They’re a nice family, why don’t we give them some business??
Their son was maybe 7 or 8 years old. Very cute. So we ordered the special chow mein.
Uncle Ming’s has renovated since then. Apparently it was a strip joint 20 years ago and the stage is still there in the unoccupied section.
If you thought Canada was a better place in which to live or raise a family, welcome. We celebrate our diversity. You can drive down Markham Road in Scarborough, stop at the traffic light and see women in hijabs protecting adorable children from ongoing motorists and think…
They are Canadian and happy to be here.
You feel the same way.
My family had the choice to move a few blocks away. We wouldn’t have been threatened in any way. They could have been murdered, jailed or oppressed.
We are one. A proud nation, envied around the globe.
Soft? No, tough as nails, especially on a hockey rink, but with hearts bigger than Lake Superior.