Apart from checking out home prices, best schools available and the grocery store locations, newcomers to Canada should also find out what your rights are and learn how to advocate for them.
That was what Syrian refugee Alhajabdullah did when his family arrived in Canada in Nov. 2015. “I studied all my rights and freedom in Canada, “ he said in an interview with the Globe and Mail. “I knew things are different here (with my home country Syria).”
Knowing his rights as a disabled individual has raised his awareness, allowing him to stand up for his own interests when circumstances arise. During the rush hours on a scorching summer afternoon, the wheelchair bound Alhajabdullah and his six-year old son were trying to get onto a public bus, only to be left behind by a slew of buses full of passengers. After 90 minutes of waiting and dripping sweats in 30-degree heat, and after the fifth bus driver turned down his request, Alhajabdullah decided to speak out.
He rolled in front of the bus and closed off his chair, creating a standoff. It was ended up with a man stepping off the bus and offering to take him and his son in a wheelchair-accessible cab.
“I had to give my boy this lesson,” he said. “No matter how sick or weak are you, nobody can rob you of your rights. This is Canada,” he said.
Yes, Canada is a country that values human rights and freedom. But for immigrants from a country with a large scale human rights abuse, freedom and equality are undervalued and even trampled by other priorities – such as financial wealth and economic freedom.
“I couldn’t care less about rights and that stuff… when you have money, you have everything, including rights，” a newcomer from China said.
But letting thirst for profits to prevail over rights and freedoms may have its ugly consequences. For decades, overseas Chinese, despite gaining tremendous wealth, have swallowed insults and discrimination silently in foreign countries. Failing to fight for equal rights, they were discriminated against and in some cases, even suffered devastating plight.
A social unrest erupted in 1990s in Indonesia that saw thousands of ethnic Chinese being killed and their shops, homes and families destroyed. More disturbingly, despite their significant contributions to the Indonesia economy for decades, Indonesian authorities, who assumed Chinese were the second class citizens and did not deserve the rights of protection, failed to provide security and protection to the vulnerable Chinese, leaving them at the mercy of the unruly mob.
While living in a country valuing human rights and principals of equal opportunities, Chinese professionals in North America feel being held back at workplace by discrimination and stereotypes. Many of them complain that despite having a high level of education and demonstrating superior technical skills in the profession, they are far behind their Caucasian peers in getting promoted and are very unlikely to make to the executive positions. Various studies have found that Asian employees struggle for full equality at workplace, and that failing to express their aspiration to the top jobs may have prevented them from getting ahead in the corporate leadership.
Alhajabdullah might have to wait much longer under the scorching hot weather, had he not rolled up in front of the bus informing everyone that he, as a disabled person deserved the rights to use transportation services as everyone else did, and that his rights cannot be ignored or trampled in this rights valued country. Likewise, Chinese professionals will continue to find their careers to be stalled, that they are bypassed for promotions and end up becoming disgruntled employees if they remain hiding silently under the shell of this rights-trampled hometown culture in North American workplace
我们鼓励所有读者在我们的文章和博客上分享意见。We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, and please keep your comments relevant and respectful. Visit the FAQ page for more information.