Chronicles of a Hasidim

As it turns out, I'm not the only one who feels his community is misunderstood by observers. I recently stumbled on this blog held by a group of young Hasidim from Outremont who felt an urge for an honest and sincere dialog with its neighbors.We hope this dialog will increase our respect of one another by dispelling some of the myths, misconceptions that we may have towards each other, and in turn to gain some understanding of our neighbors and how they view our distinct way of life.

We know that there will always be some ill-willed individuals who will make mockery out our attempt to bring about this open dialog, but nevertheless we feel this is our duty as human beings to try to do good and bring about peace in our world.
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Immigration and attitudes

Canada prides itself in being a country of immigrants. In recent years, immigration has become an important part of the Canadian identity. This trait is particularly prevalent in provinces other than Québec.

The Globe and Mail is currently conducting an on-line survey to capture the attitude of Canadians toward immigration in the country. The National newspaper invites its readers to chart their perspective and compare their opinion to others. The survey basically asks two questions:
  1. How do you feel immigration affects Canada?
  2. How often do you interact with immigrants?
At the time of this blog entry, findings suggest that 81% of respondents frequently interact with immigrants and 78% believe that immigration helps Canada. The breakdown per province and territory is as follows:
  • Alberta: 82% frequently interact and 79% believe immigration is a plus.
  • British Columbia: 79% and 77%
  • Manitoba: 74% and 80%
  • New Brunswick: 72% and 80%
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 76% and 77%
  • Northwest Territories: 95% and 100%
  • Nova Scotia: 73% and 84%
  • Nunavut: 88% and 63%
  • Ontario: 83% and 76%
  • Prince Edward Island: 72% and 67%
  • Québec: 88% and 86%
  • Saskatchewan: 83% and 77%
  • Yukon: 84% and 84%
I can't help but notice Québec's enviable position in the survey and how it contrasts with what seems to be the opinion of other Canadians in regards to the Québécois' attitude towards immigrants.

English-speaking readers from Québec are the most bilingual in the country. French-speaking readers of the newspaper are obviously all bilingual. The Globe's readership from Québec is thus the most bilingual, compared to other parts of the country.

Given that bilingualism allows a greater variety of cultural productions than readers from other provinces, I submit that it is the main driver of this open-mindedness. What do you think?


Katimavik: 1977-2012?

I'm a Katimavik alumnus. Initially one of the many opportunities I took advantage of to improve my second language, it had a profound impact on my personal life; the young adult that I was in 1984 didn't know much about the world outside the family cocoon. It was also my first close encounter with Canadians who spoke only one of the two official languages... an eye-opening experience.

If you're familiar with the program, you're probably aware that in the 2012 federal budget, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the program will be eliminated. The reason?... the comparatively high per-person cost of the program when compared to other government initiatives targeted at youth.

Here are some facts the organization has been sharing in response to the announcement:
  • The yearly budget for Katimavik to have 1462 youth complete the program in 64 communities helping more than 500 community partners is $15,935,470. This amounts to a total cost per day of $77 per volunteer.
  • The volunteer work performed by the volunteers is valued at $10,749,518.
  • The direct investments by Katimavik groups in each of the 64 communities where the program takes place, is valued at $218,000 per community, for a total of $13,952,000.
  • In 2010-2011, 90% of Katimavik community partners indicated that the Katimavik volunteers' involvement improved their capacity to accomplish their daily tasks.
  • Last year, 91% of volunteers said that they would recommend the program to their friends and 88% said Katimavik was one of the best experiences of their lives.
It certainly was for me...