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September 10 2001

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September 10 2001

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Racial conflict

Having grown up in the only black family in a small British Columbia community, I can relate to some of the emotions expressed by Lawrence Hill (“Black + white . . . equals black,” Cover, Aug. 27). I, too, experienced feelings of racial isolation and disconnection, eagerly soaked up the rare ’70s sitcoms featuring black actors, and received mixed racial messages. However, as a young adult, I made the conscious decision to move to a city where I could be exposed to my black culture. Yes, I was initially teased by my newfound black friends for being “too white,” but I dealt with it. As a result, I now have a rich, wide social circle that includes friends of all races. I cringed when I read Hill’s reference to the “hopelessness of being black in a society that doesn’t love—or even like—black people.” I refuse to view my world in such a negative manner. My race has never made me feel hopeless. Andrea Shearer, Toronto

The excellent cover story pushes questions at us—some unexpected. Why was black U.S. immigrant Daniel Hill (Lawrence Hill’s father) made the first racially trailblazing chairman of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and not a native Canadian Indian? The same can be asked about Chinese-Canadian Adrienne Clarkson (whom I admire) as Governor General. Has anyone thought of a native Canadian for that position? Is our wonderful racial openness selective? Robin Mathews, Vancouver

It is a silly premise that people are divided into black and white. I come from Jamaica—where the motto is “Out of many one people”— of Irish, Welsh, Scottish, Portuguese, East Indian and African heritage. Despite my Sephardic Jewish-Protestant heritage, I was raised Roman Catholic. Racial mixing is as old as the world itself. The Caribbean and Latin America are made up of Amerindians, Mayans, Europeans, people from the Middle East and Asia. Africans arrived in North America about the same time as Europeans. When I lived in Jamaica, I was Jamaican and proud of the diversity of both my racial and religious heritages. Now I am Canadian and proud of my Jamaican heritage. I am only hyphenated when others call me so, but I figure that is their problem, not mine. Rosemary Kavanagh, Unionville, Ont.

Having an Italian father and a Ugandan mother has not created any identity crises in myself or my brother. We don’t mind explaining our background to others, as any truly complete person wouldn’t. Our ethnic background is just that: our background. But more than anything, we are proud of our beliefs and proud to be good wholesome Canadians. Joseph Pelliccione, Toronto

Thank you for giving me insights into other peoples’ experiences (“Mixed emotions”). Like news anchor Jennifer Mather, I was also called “chink” and other names on the school playground. My biological father was Chinese, but my mother and adopted father are Mennonite. I grew up in a small Mennonite community in Manitoba where everyone seemed to be tall, blond and blue-eyed. I certainly didn’t look like that and always felt different. I am still struggling to understand what it means to be Mennonite and Chinese. Karen Pauls, Halifax

The essays were about children of mixedrace parents, but the descriptions of the parents were sometimes not descriptive of their race, but rather of their nationality (Israeli, British), their province of origin (Quebec) or their religion (Jewish). My concern with such descriptions is that they further stereotype: nations, provinces and religions include people of all races. Margaret Leroux, Ottawa

Damming Belize Having spent several years in Belize, as well as in overseas donor programs, I found myself challenged by the debate in “Power to the people?” (Canada and the

CLARIFICATION

In “Tidying up ‘a mess’ ” (Cover, Sept. 3), National Capital Commission chairman Marcel Beaudry was referring to a section of Sparks Street— not the entire city of Ottawa—when he said it “looks like hell.”

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Omnipresent music

Good article from Richard Young about the Easy Rock music at his workplace (“And the beat goes on,” Over to You, Aug. 27). What I want to know is who decided that the general public needs to hear music at all times and in all places? Every shopping centre, grocery store, restaurant, waiting room, pub, foyer, elevator or public washroom and, woe betide you, telephone, churns out music, or what passes for music. When waiting for an oil change at the local Honda dealership, I found the volume knob and turned it down. At Safeway, I asked for and received earplugs, but the voice of Celine Dion could penetrate concrete. I am becoming the fastest shopper ever, just desperate to get out. Hasn’t anyone heard of peace and quiet, or Delius, Mozart and Smetana? Sheila Gair, Surrey, B.C.

World, Aug. 27). I’m inclined to favour relatively small dams and disfavour the enormous ones, so the one proposed in Belize would probably, on the whole, be beneficial. There’s no question that the need to import crude oil for their current energy needs is an enormous drain on a pallid, limited economy. The dam could eliminate virtually this entire cost. Moreover, it would bring light, literally, to many areas that still use candles and open fires and lack refrigeration. Measured against this, the disruption of a few people and the dubious disruption of a weird ecology are a small price to pay. One final thought: in my not inconsiderable experience with overseas donor agencies, the Canadian International Development Agency holds up quite well. So, yes, power to the people. Joshua M. Levine, Washington

A Macal River dam would electrify Belize

Belize is rich in forests, wildlife and Mayan buildings. My late brother (a former chief justice of Belize) loved visiting the land, and I am sure that he would turn in his grave if the dam construction takes place. No one appears to have looked into the future as to who would be maintaining this dam: I am sure the government could not afford to do so.

Ralph Malone, Niagara-on-the Lake, Ont.

The Canadian International Development Agency should not be involved in the development of a dam in Belize to alleviate poverty. Instead, CIDA should be concentrating on the areas that have a proven track record for reducing world poverty— that is, basic health care and nutrition as well as basic education, especially for girls. In 2005, by reallocating existing funding, CIDA will be providing monies for health and nutrition at a level of $305 million annually. Basic education funding of $164 million per year by 2005 could mean that an addi-

6 Maclean’s I September 10,2001

tional two million girls will be attending school. Increasing CIDA’s investments in health and education in Belize will have proven beneficial returns for the poorest people, as opposed to supporting the construction of a dam with the potential for disastrous social, economic and ecological consequences.

Tony Gvora, Victoria

My family was in the electrical development business in Newfoundland many years ago for about 40 years, and I can say, without doubt, that it was electricity, not politics, that brought Newfoundlanders out of their feudal existence. Stanley Marshall, CEO of Fortis Inc., who plans to build the dam, is right to stick to his guns and decry the selfish aims of a few glory seekers.

David J. Murphy, Topsail, Nfld.

High tech on the Rock

At our 12-bed rural hospital on a rock in the Atlantic Ocean, we issued pre-loaded Palm personal organizers to our medical staff more than a year ago (“Healthy communication,” Tech Explorer, Aug. 27). The take-home message: not all innovations happen in Central Canada.

Dr. Stephen Darcy, Bonavista Bay, Nfld.

Basic economics

Selective perception is evident in the two

letters (“Wearing ‘blinders,’ ” Aug. 20) criticizing columnist Donald Coxes statement that “the absurdity of the anti-globalist campaign is that no one and no group is actually in charge” (“Downfall of the elites,” Aug. 6). I believe that Coxe was referring to the absurdity of some antiglobalists in creating a meaningless dichotomy between the little people and the mega-corporations and big government in an attempt to define a target, but I suppose they need something to protest against. We must remember who ultimately drives these big, bad corporations to produce: consumers. I think that it would be beneficial for some of these anti-globalists to take some basic lessons in economics to understand the benefits and consequences of international trade.

Helen Chan, Port Coquitlam, B.C.

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