Published articles

Mixed Unions in Canada

Cinnamon wore a sari for part of her wedding festivities

A study of 16 ethnic groups in Canada has discovered that marrying outside of ethnic lines means better pay and more power.

The study completed by Leger Marketing Poll for the Association of Canadian Studies in March 2005 demonstrates mixed exogamous couples command substantially better incomes than their non-mixed endogenous union counterparts.

According to latest figures released on April 20, 2010 by a Statistics Canada study based on the 2006 census about 4 per cent of all couples in Canada are mixed unions. The reasons for these results might rest in diversity and access to different communities which could create a completely more complicated understanding of self.

“I think I make better Chicken Korma Curry than my wife. She says I am more at ease in following her cultural traditions than she is. Honestly I never felt I had the transitional phase of adapting, it just fell into place,” says Jerry Chan, an accountant at a Vancouver firm. He met his wife Fatima Ahmad, who has a different ethnic background, at a fund raiser for a local charity.

According to the 2006 Statistics Canada census, 5.9 per cent of married and common law couples in British Columbia are mixed race unions making it the province with the highest percentage of mixed unions in the country, higher than the national average of 3.9 per cent. Trailing in second and third place respectively are Ontario (4.6 per cent) and  Alberta (4.2 per cent).

Once prohibited through legislative measures and looked upon as taboo through social norms mixed marriages are a growing trend in BC.

Does the Vancouver born Chan think he fared better financially, by marrying outside his ethnic group?

“Absolutely, we both enjoy six figure incomes. I don’t think I shared so many commonalities with any girl till the time I met Fatima. My parents emigrated from Mainland China and were slightly surprised when I informed them of my decision. But they were happy to see I found the right person.”

Ahmad’s family initially questioned her decision to marry Chan.

“Jerry picked up the language, the jokes and traditions so quickly that they [the parents] feel he is more the son then I am the daughter of the family. Now they think we’re a heavenly match made in Metro Vancouver,” says Ahmad with a laugh.

Mixed race unions not unusual for BC

This is not surprising as BC has a long history of interracial mingling University of British Columbia sociology professor Renisa Mawani’s work on the history of mixed race unions in the province Colonial Proximities: Crossracial encounters and Jurdicial Truths in British Columbia 1871-1921 examines how mixed unions are not a new phenomenon but that society’s view of them has evolved. She traces the history of how mixed race peoples treated as a threat to pure race are now considered a successful part of a multicultural society.

For example, the merging of two cultures brings a unique understanding of the institution of marriages and unions. Even the ceremonies become more vibrant.

“Anytime I hear the couple is from two different cultures it gets me excited as there is room to get even more creative. The more diverse the cultures the more interesting the ceremony,” says Angela Girard, a wedding planner at Reflection Events, Vancouver.

Girard says there is no ‘one glove fits all’ rule available for mixed race wedding ceremonies. Does she find it is easy to bring everyone together on common ground?

“There are rarely occasions when I have run into an impasse. The whole marriage scene is about love and compromise. If the [couple] can get past the first step amicably the path for the future will be easier,” Girard says.

According to another study by Leger Marketing Poll for the ACS 74 per cent of the respondents would not oppose their children marrying outside the racial group, compared to only 14 per cent who were resistant to mixed marriages.

“Our daughter will have a choice of growing up as a whatever she may choose to be,” says Cinnamon Bhayani , a new mother. Bhayani, a Metis French Canadian, is married to Kenyan Galib Bhayani whose family background is Ismaili. The two met while they were working at the Vancouver International Airport (YVR) in Richmond.

Cinnamon and Galib: Celebrate their mixed union

Ethnicity was never an issue for the Bhayanis. They had other commonalities to consider in their decision to solemnize this union such as their love for photography and travelling.

“Galib showed me these photos of the Galapagos Islands that he took on a visit there that were breath taking. This drew me to him as we had similar interests. It started as a friendship at first.”

Both families were very supportive of the union.

Is love enough to conquer all battles?

“Absolutely not,” says Danielle Wong, a Vancouver mother of two daughters both with partners outside their racial group.

“My eldest married a Canadian of East-Indian descent. They met while they working both freshly out of University. Love conquered all but not the little things such as deciding menu items on a combined family dinner. It took a lot of adjustments for each,” Wong says.

The younger daughter is married to a psychiatrist whose parents emigrated to Canada from the Philippines??? . They met in university.

Wong says she is proud of what her daughters have achieved. One daughter is a beauty consultant and her son-in-law is a doctor working in Vancouver, They live affluent lives and have fulfilled their dream by overcoming the mixed marriage hurdles.

For Ahmad “, As long as your partner has the right personality traits – colour, gender, race or culture fade away. The only things that matter are ambitions, passion and the urge to live life to the fullest with the one person you desire to be with.”

life, Published articles

Vancouver: Greenest City on Earth

Mayor Gregor Robertson announced his green plan which intends to make Vancouver the greenest city on earth by 2020. To achieve this goal a list of guidelines has been set out. One of the suggestions proposed is to reduce water consumption by 33%. This announcement made headlines in local papers which caught my eye. Our team consisting of Brandi Cowen, Aaron Tam, Brent Wittmeier and myself set out to find the truth.

The style of this news piece is futuristic. In this broadcast you will see the what happened in the process of filming it and the challenges we had to overcome to put it together for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy and let me know what you think.

life, Published articles

Supersizing your hand bag: a health hazard

Attention fashionistas with avant- garde accessory sense. To be seen without your Prada, Gucci, Coach or Guess bag is considered a fashion faux pas and the consequence for this is an unceremonious departure out of the elitist sisterhood sorority.

Are over sized handbags a health hazard for spinal injuries ?? Our fashion police consisting of five feminist investigative journalists ( Amanda Ash, Faiza Zia Khan, Katie Hyslop, Megan Stewart and Sarah Stenabaugh) set out on a “fact or false” mission on the effects of heavy handbags on the female spinal cord.

The video is featured on the title page of the August 2009 issue of THE THUNDERBIRD. Enjoy our brainchild.

Supersized fashion maybe bad for your health

life, Published articles

The Cobalt Vancouver

My article on The Cobalt Vancouver has received surprisingly immense readership. Here is the link:

The Cobalt Vancouver struggles through

The Cobalt has served as the home of extreme metal music for several years on the West Coast and its status quo has been threatened by noise complaints of the neighbours. City of Vancouver’s by-laws dictate the bar has to follow proper protocol to reduce noise pollution.

Seemingly traight forward solution, complicated background. Read on…

life, Published articles

Italians reclaim heritage in Vancouver

Here is the piece I wrote for The Thunderbird.

Ladies enjoy an evening at Roma Hall playing cards and doing what women do best- chatting !!
Ladies enjoy an evening at Roma Hall playing cards and doing what women do best- chatting !!

It took over a month and countless trips to research this article. I am extremely grateful for the generosity of all the vibrant and amazing people I interviewed for my article.

Thank you very much for talking to me for endless hours and tirelessly posing for the photo gallery. A very special thanks to Rino Bellini, President of Roma Hall in New Westminster and his lovely wife Linda for introducing me to these larger than life characters .

I would have never come across these lovely personalities without your cooperation. Now they remain infinitely chronicled in this piece of writing.

I would also like to acknowledge the participation of Caelan Griffiths, Curator of The Italian Cultural Centre in Vancouver for taking me on an eye opening journey down the historical avenues of Italian immigrants.

I remain eternally thankful to everyone for your graciousness, patience and participation.

Read on:

Photo Gallery: