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Cheap Labour: Canada
Canada, the so-called land of opportunities. This statement is a known
fact due to the large amount of people immigrating to our country. It all
started back in the 50’s and is still occurring in the 90’s. I will be
discussing the different working mentalities between French Canadians and
immigrants coming from various parts of the world. I will compare “Voiceless
People” by Marco Micone, and White Niggers of America by Pierre Vallieres.
White Niggers emphasizes on the mentality of French Canadian working class and
Voiceless People emphasizes on immigrant’s mentality towards working, which in
this case is the Italian community.
After reading “Rivalry Over the Ethnic Minorities”, it was like reading
my own family’s past when they immigrated in Quebec back in the early 70’s.
Many Greek immigrants who immigrated from their native country followed the same
pattern towards finding happiness. Like most of the French, they worked long
hard hours in bad working conditions and not so great pay. These sweatshops
represent the first act of action to climb up the social ladder. But for the
immigrants, it meant much more: they have these jobs in order to save up some
money for the future, by a nice house and reach the next step in social ladder.
Most of the time, the immigrants would buy their home in other neighborhoods;
they would change community because it reflected their new social situation.
Because they have more money, they can move to an area where people of the same
nationality live. They will leave the French back in the city where they will
keep on working long hours because they never saved up or invested their money.
The main point I’m trying to show is that the immigrants have a stronger
ambition and desire to become more successful than the French do, maybe because
they are not at home and threatened by others. This is the world view almost
all immigrants have and this concept has a major effect on their lives.
Voiceless People is exactly the same scenario for Antonio and his family.
Antonio came here very poor and unable to speak a word of French. He started
working in factories with very bad pay and even worse working conditions. Just
like the typical immigrant, he never gave up, didn’t let anyone put him down,
continued to work because he had an ambition to become successful and buy a
house knowing that he earned it with his own sweat. As a newcomer to this
country, he seemed to succeed with great facility, unlike many French Canadians
who seem somehow jealous of the immigrants who tend to succeed with such bad
This cycle seemed very effective for many immigrants and still is. Many
don’t have a choice, they must work like slaves for several years and save
almost all their earnings in order to hopefully go up the corporate ladder. Many
do this very rapidly, often in only one generation from practically slavery to a
professional job and respected positions. The ratio of immigrants going through
the cycle described above is much higher than the ratio of French Canadian going
through the same thing. Like the Rossis and many other Italians, they show more
desire to achieve wealth.
Now, the mentality issued in White Niggers illustrates the French
working class. It represents the Vallieres family and the hardship they were
living the 40’s. Vallieres’ father was still working long dreadful hours when he
was only 13. This means that he hadn’t saved up enough money to be able to
decrease his working hours; therefore he couldn’t even spend more time with his
family. Also, education was not similar when comparing the two stories. For
example, education plays a big role according to Antonio; he thinks that it is
very important for Mario to go to school. He wants him to attend university and
get a incredible job that will make him look good as well. But Mario doesn’t
seem to have an interest in pursuing a career in school. But in White Niggers of
America, young Vallieres had a thirst for knowledge, he wanted to go to
university to become a writer, but like many other French Canadian parents,
they wanted him to go to a special school, Brothers of Christian, for only two
years and get a job at a bank which would provide immediate income unlike going
to university and waiting many years before getting a steady job. But Vallieres
wanted more because he knew he was bright and he really wanted to attend
university. However, before frequenting to school, he would have to go to the
College Classique ?but he didn’t have enough money. Why is it that the French
Canadian father could not afford to send his child to go to college and the
immigrant Italian seems to have? Luck? I don’t think so. It must be the desire
to be successful. It seems that the immigrants feel more threatened if their
children don’t get an education because they come from immigrated families. On
the other hand, French Canadians feel less pressured because they assume they
are superior and are bound to get a job in their society, but they’re wrong. For
example, many of the well respected jobs in Montreal are held by people who’s
families have immigrated here only a half a century ago. For instance, the
Jewish, Italian and Greek communities are prime examples of what I’m trying to
illustrate. An other point is that the ethic community in Montreal is very
strong and practically controlling the economy.
Another element that I would like to give my point of view on is the
hatred and jealousy coming from the French Quebecers. For example, in Voiceless
People, there was an extract that had Antonio’s neighbor insulting and calling
him bad names just because he was an immigrant . I can’t really blame his
neighbor because he sort of had a reason to get angry due to the fact that many
newcomers took away jobs; these foreigners were willing to work for less money
than the French Canadians. But many natives would rather go on social security
which Antonio would never consider. This situation is presently happening in
Montreal where people are emigrating from Bangladesh and Pakistan. Many
residents of Canada are criticizing these individuals, just as it was happening
thirty years ago.
Primarily, the point of this essay was to illustrate the world views and
mentality between working class French Quebecers and working class immigrants.
These settlers from abroad have a very different approach towards life when they
came here. Many of them chose Antonio’s world view rather than seeing the world
view through the eyes of the Quebecers. Outside this world of economy, the
French Canadians still run the risk of being “extinct” by the overflow of
thirsty immigrants looking for jobs which our employers will gladly hire. But
then again, there will always be a Jacques Parizeau who will always find a flaw
in all the ethnic communities who seem to work hard and want to become a success
in order to make this country a better place to live in.
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