B.C. Liberal MLA the latest politician with mixed messaging for non-English media

Warning to all:
British Columbia Liberal leader Kevin Falcon says he supports supervised drug injection sites, but when member of the legislature Teresa Wat spoke to the audience of a Mandarin news show last week, she had a different message.
Wat, speaking on Phoenix TV’s Daily Topic Show, said “we are very opposed to so-called safe injection sites,” remarks she later said “accidentally misrepresented” her party’s position.

Source: B.C. Liberal MLA the latest politician with mixed messaging for non-English media

Chinese Canadian seniors left behind as many Chinese-language newspapers stop printing

Of interest:

As the world came to a standstill two years ago, they sat unread on dusty newsstands in empty restaurants and grocery stores.

Chinese-language newspapers, vital to the community, became largely inaccessible during the pandemic as people were restricted from visiting the places where they were distributed.

It’s part of why Canada’s largest Chinese-language daily newspaper, Sing Tao Daily, has stopped printing across the country. After 44 years of circulating in Canada, its last publication date is on Saturday.

“The Chinese newspaper is really, really important to a lot of my members, seniors,” said Liza Chan, executive director of the Calgary Chinese Elderly Citizens’ Association. “It’s a big hit to Calgary.”

It’s a trend throughout Canada’s Chinese media landscape.

In Calgary, a number of other Chinese-language newspapers stopped printing due to impacts from the pandemic, leaving just one locally-printed newspaper to inform the Chinese community — especially seniors who don’t typically get their news online.

Pandemic changed readership patterns 

Originating in Hong Kong, Sing Tao Daily was  distributed throughout Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver. The daily newspaper stopped circulating in Calgary in 2016, but its weekly publications — Canadian City Post and Sing Tao Cosmopolitan — are also ending their physical editions on Saturday.

While some Sing Tao readership returned after restrictions were lifted, Wong says it didn’t bounce back to pre-pandemic levels, which were already declining.

“We are noticing the change of the public in consuming their daily information and news,” said Wong. “We think that it is the right timing to change and move on to a new phase.”

It’s the same situation for Trend Media, formerly known as Trend Weekly. It used to be a free weekly magazine before it stopped printing and transitioned completely to an online platform in August.

“With the pandemic, more people in some ways are relying on information online right now. So less and less people are really paying much attention to the printed copies,” said publisher Danny Chan.

Chan says the high costs of printing were also a major factor, especially with a reduction in readers. He says all of the publication’s income would go to printing.

“I think the newspaper printing business is going all the way downhill right now because we can hardly make enough money to cover the printing costs,” he said.

He was also seeing a decrease in willing advertisers — the publication’s main revenue source. Most advertisers target readers under the age of 50 and now spend their money on online promotions, says Chan.

“Most of the readers of the paper publication are elderly. They don’t have that kind of spending power.”

Both Trend Media and Sing Tao will continue to publish e-books online. 

Other local newspapers in Calgary, such as Oriental Weekly, mention on their websites that they stopped printing indefinitely during the pandemic.

Chinese seniors left behind

As much of the world shifted online during the pandemic, Wong says seniors have become more technologically savvy and can learn how to find the news online.

But Liza Chan says that isn’t the case with the seniors she works with at the Calgary Chinese Elderly Citizens’ Association.

“There’s still a lot of seniors [who are] not able to access a computer or don’t have the ability to do it,” she said.

She says routine is important for seniors, and reading the Chinese newspaper each week is a big part of their routines — namely, Sing Tao’s weekly publications and Trend Weekly. But now, those are no longer an option.

A couple of other international newspapers are still distributed in Calgary, including Vision Times and Epoch Times, but there’s now only one locally printed Chinese newspaper in Calgary that seniors can rely on.

It’s limiting for seniors, says Chan, because that one option is in higher demand.

“When you have three different kinds, you can still get one maybe out of the three. But now you might not get any,” she said.

Last locally printed Chinese newspaper

The Canadian Chinese Times was the first local Chinese-language newspaper created in Calgary, back in 1981. Now, it’s the last one standing.

“It’s sad, actually,” said Jake Louie, publisher of the Canadian Chinese Times. “We don’t mind competition at all because that will give readers and the community more choices.”

“Now, we’re the only one left. So it’s kind of a feeling of loneliness, you know, in a way.”

The weekly newspaper, published on Thursdays, is targeted toward Chinese seniors and new immigrants who want to learn about the Canadian way of life and stay informed about what’s going on in Calgary.

About 12,000 copies are printed each week and distributed to more than 60 locations throughout the city. As the last Chinese newspaper standing, Louie says demand has soared.

“Our paper is going like hotcakes,” said Louie.

He says they once considered shifting to an online-only platform due to soaring printing costs and a decrease in advertisements. But when they asked readers their thoughts, the feedback was almost unanimous.

“‘No, I don’t know how to go online and I don’t have a computer. We really need physical printing papers so that we can get the information there.'”

Tony Wong, president of the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre, says Chinese newspapers play an important role in the community’s daily lives.

Reading the newspaper with his family every Thursday and Friday has become a ritual, he says. Not only does it help him stay informed about events in the community, but his wife searches advertisements for the best promotions and sales to share with her sisters.

That didn’t change during the pandemic. Instead, in the early days, his wife would make sure he wore gloves to pick up the newspaper. She would also spray his hands and the paper with disinfectant.

“I just pray that the Canadian Chinese Times will remain in print for many years to come. Otherwise, a lot of our lives will be in jeopardy,” he said.

Chan says she hopes the Canadian Chinese Times will consider printing more copies as demand increases so no Chinese Calgarians lose touch with the community.

Source: Chinese Canadian seniors left behind as many Chinese-language newspapers stop printing

Australia: Multicultural media is a strong engagement lever, not a gimmick

While from a multicultural marketing perspective, still valid:

In the land of public relations, everybody aims for tremendous reach. Most of the time, that means mainstream media. However, communicators often forget that the type of audiences you reach matter – the old “quality versus quantity” debate.

As a communicator, it confuses me when others in my field palm off multicultural media as insignificant. This outdated contention does a great disservice to the Australian landscape and means that crucial audience segments are not being met with messages.

Multicultural media can achieve something that mainstream media cannot. It provides and caters to a range of diverse voices and communities, and those with different backgrounds – such as migrants who now mistrust mainstream news – are more likely to engage with media appropriately tailored to the unique aspects of their lives.

The global pandemic reminded us that culturally, linguistically, and religiously diverse communities don’t engage with – or trust – media in the same way as other audiences. Australia’s history of mis-representation, racist and dangerous reporting has created widespread scepticism toward conventional news channels. Examples are never far away: consider the racialising of Melbourne’s “African gang problem”, where the media have consistently targeted and vilified the South Sudanese community, eliciting an “Apology of the Year” recognition by ABC TV’s Media Watch. Such media efforts create a dangerous potential to tarnish communities, encourage further discrimination and violence, and disastrously impact social cohesion.

Multicultural media has often been labelled a small initiative, lacking the style of mainstream reporting – it is underfunded, and usually run on a volunteer basis. It’s seen as a “cute” service for nostalgic migrants, as a means of segregating people into cultural ghettos of communication, or simply tacked on as a “nice to have” on communications plans.

However, this is a gross misrepresentation of the powerful force that is multicultural and community-focused media.

Media that is community-focused and community-centric is developed in an appropriate, respectful, and impactful fashion. Through mediums like print, radio, videos and online news, community initiatives are translated to the right audiences.

Community initiatives employing these mediums are used to discuss problems, and offer solutions faced by diverse communities, with adequate consideration for their cultural, linguistic and religious backgrounds and values. Through an array of opportunities, multicultural media allows you to connect meaningfully and effectively with different groups in a way that mainstream media cannot, or will not.

So, the next time you are planning a communications campaign, consider the following.

1. Australia is a country rich with diversity and culture, it is an oversight to not cater towards the many communities within our country.

Australia has a long history of multiculturalism and is now home to Australians who identify with over 270 ancestries. Over 7 million people identify as coming from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Over one quarter of Australia’s population was born overseas. This rich, culturally diverse population is one of our greatest strengths in illustrating successful and harmonious multiculturalism. Australia has one of the highest numbers of migrants in the world and the highest immigration rates – accounting for 30 per cent of the world’s population, the greatest proportion among western countries.

Multicultural media dates back to the 1800s in Australia: the first non-English language newspaper published in Australia was a bi-lingual German newspaper. Subsequently, there were radio commercials in the 1900s that led to the foundation of the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS). Their contemporary tagline, Six Billion Stories and Counting, reflects the value of SBS’s extraordinary efforts to the Australian multicultural media landscape for its cultural and creative diversity.

Today, the multicultural media landscape has expanded to over 100 community radio stations, in over 100 languages and media organisations from different cultural and religious groups, that broadcast news in print and online, in English and other languages.

2. Multicultural media is a tremendous opportunity for mindful and appropriate messaging.

Multicultural media channels have developed historically to become more mindful, influential, dynamic and pervasive in the Australian media landscape. It ensures that there is more authenticity in stories and media reporting.

Community-focused outlets and channels can facilitate a sense of belonging and social cohesion among first and subsequent generation-migrants, and drive further connection between migrants of CALD backgrounds and other social groups, especially in their local communities.

Over time, multicultural media outlets have taken matters and public affairs into their own hands, finding ways to tell their stories in their own words, empowering their community by speaking up for themselves.

Years ago, the narrative was only one viewpoint. Today, multiple viewpoints, perspectives and opinions are now shared across print, radio, video, and online, underscoring the importance of freedom of speech, and our privilege to have it in Australia.

By providing diverse and unique communities with trusted media, we can ensure that they don’t miss crucial information, while highlighting to the general Australian public that different cultures and communities face various issues – from systemic racism and discrimination – to limited access to vital resources.

3. Multicultural media fills in the gaps that mainstream media overlooks.

Through multicultural media, we are provided the opportunity to access untapped networks comprising organisations, initiatives and – most importantly – people. There are entire audiences rich in cultural diversity, background and history that aren’t consuming or appearing in mainstream news. Incredible stories are getting missed, important audiences are being ignored, and your campaign efforts are lacking a more well-rounded, inclusive and holistic approach to communications.

Off the back of the pandemic, it is unsurprising that Australians are gradually becoming more selective in their news, turning away from mainstream sources. Globally,only one in two people trust the media, with this metric in Australia experiencing one of the biggest drops over the last year.

It’s thus undeniable that community-specific media wields a unique power. Its unbiased, sincere, nuanced and grassroots reporting means that more Australians will opt for such channels. It offers a significant and meaningful contribution to the Australian media landscape.

As multicultural media continues to expand rapidly, the quality and content of these outlets has been noticed nationally in the last decade. The Australian government, in each state, has Multicultural Media Awards to showcase excellence in sharing stories and news in multicultural media outlets operating on limited budgets. The awards recognise the valuable contributions from multicultural media platforms that promote a united, harmonious and inclusive society.

Source: Multicultural media is a strong engagement lever, not a gimmick

Russia’s attack on Ukraine sparks outrage in Canada’s multilingual media

Useful overview:

In a dramatic shift, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine caused a complete pivot in ethnic media attention in the past week. While for many Eastern European outlets the war triggered vivid memories of the past, media across the board expressed outrage and concern over the attack and focused on responses from Canada and the international community.

The events in Ukraine are of particular interest to Canada for two reasons, as the Russian Canadian portal Russian Week put it in its commentary. For one, “as a smaller country sitting next to the world’s largest superpower, Canada has a massive stake in ensuring international norms and laws are respected to protect itself and global stability. Those include preventing one country from being allowed to invade or otherwise seize parts of another country. The fear is that ignoring Russia’s actions weakens this prohibition.”

In addition, “the fate of Ukraine is a personal matter for the more than 1.3 million Canadians of Ukrainian descent, many of whom still have strong connections to their ancestral land and are opposed to Russian interference in the country,” Russian Week wrote. “Because of its size, the Ukrainian community is seen as having significant influence, and it is demanding Canada support Ukraine.”

At the forefront of these demands, and of solidarity rallies and marches in Canadian cities, has been Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Chrystia Freeland, who is herself of Ukrainian descent.

“But not all the outraged voices are Ukrainian,” says MIREMS President Andres Machalski, whose father comes from Western Ukraine. “These demonstrations have been reflected widely in the ethnic media of all language groups in Canada.”

The Canadian Punjabi Post highlighted that Canada is home to the world’s largest population of Ukrainians after Ukraine and Russia, and that several Canadian political leaders are of Ukrainian origin. The paper sees Ukraine as a bridge between Russia and Europe, and “the collapse of that bridge is like inviting a major flood.”

The Tamil East FM radio reported that protests were held in Toronto, Montreal and other major cities in Canada to urge the Canadian government to undertake stronger action against Russia. Speakers at the protest condemned Russia’s action and expressed shock and dismay over this “senseless act” by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Punjabi Red FM radio in Calgary reported on the rally in Calgary and interviewed several participants, including a Russian citizen there to show his solidarity with the Ukrainian people and to send the message that ordinary Russians do not support their president’s “insanity.”

Russian Canadian media condemn the invasion of Ukraine

Obviously the most active discussion has been in the Ukrainian and Russian community media, but with a Canadian twist. The Russian website Knopka cited Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) Quebec branch head Michael Shwec saying that the whole world has a duty to rally behind Ukraine, as a failure to act would send a signal to other authoritarian countries and spell trouble for democracies across the world.

The Russian Torontovka quoted several UCC representatives who organized the protests in Montreal and Edmonton calling the events “an opportunity for people from the community to come together and raise awareness about Russian aggression in Ukraine” and to express their disappointment with the international response to the conflict.

MIREMS Ukrainian and Russian languages analyst Oleg Schindler says that most Russian Canadian ethnic media condemn the aggression and support sanctions against Russia. Yet, on Facebook pages of different media sources as well as different Canadian public groups, there is a strong verbal battle between the communities. It appears that quite a lot of Russians in Canada write comments in support of Putin’s invasion. The Ukrainian side accuses them of being brainwashed by the Russian narrative about “fascists” in Ukraine.

Eastern European outlets rally behind Ukrainians

Other Eastern European media in Canada were also deeply triggered by the events, says MIREMS Editor in Chief Silke Reichrath. Many of the outlets and their readers have long considered Russia an “uncomfortable neighbour” and vividly remember a past life behind the Iron Curtain. A Latvian protester explained on OMNI Italian News that having been occupied by the Soviet Union for years, Latvians understand the consequences of Russian aggression.

The Polish Gazeta featured the Polish-Canadian organization Konekt, which joined the Sunday march for Ukraine in Toronto organized by the UCC. Konekt stated, “what has been to our generation a nightmare from the past century has become an unthinkable reality for our Ukrainian neighbours.”

The Polish newspaper Goniec described how Latvians, Estonians, Lithuanians, Poles and others joined together in the protests to support Ukraine. The Polish Radio 7 Zycie aired a heartbreaking interview with a Ukrainian woman living in Toronto who worries about her family in Ukraine. The woman suggested donations to Come Back Alive, a Kyiv-based NGO, and thanked people in Poland for opening up their homes to those fleeing the war. The broadcaster has also launched its own crowdfunding campaign.

The Romanian Observatorul showcased in a long article how Romanians are rallying to help Ukrainian refugees arriving in their country, despite the sometimes difficult history of the two countries.

Echoes of Second World War and fears of another global conflict

The Jewish community has close ties to the Jewish community in Ukraine, which is the second largest in Europe and, by some counts, fourth largest in the world. The Canadian Jewish News has been posting podcasts of interviews with Jewish leaders in Ukraine: a rabbi spoke of spending Shabbat in synagogue basements for safety. Funds for Ukraine are being raised by the TanenbaumCHAT high school in Toronto and the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg.

One of the podcasts featured Ukrainian-Canadian Alti Rodal, a Ukrainian-Canadian historian and daughter of Holocaust suvivors. She has been running a group called Ukrainian Jewish Encounter to bridge the longstanding distrust between Jews and Ukrainians that dates back to the Second World War. Rodal said Putin’s claims to want to de-nazify Ukraine were absurd because Ukraine has a Jewish president and defence minister.

Some German outlets see spectres of a potentially nuclear Third World War. An opinion piece in the German monthly Der Albertaner reflected that Putin justified the invasion of Ukraine by saying he was restoring peace in the Donbas, which is reminiscent of Hitler justifying the invasion of Poland with the argument that he was retaliating for a Polish attack on a German radio station in Silesia.

Concerns about emboldening China

Chinese community media are clearly concerned that Russia is setting an example for China to follow with respect to Taiwan. A1 Chinese Radio host Mary Yang called Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “heartbreaking” and wondered if it was giving inspiration to Chinese President Xi Jinping to attack Taiwan.

Sing Tao Daily referenced Canada’s ambassador to the United Nations, Bob Rae, who said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could inspire other invasions if it is not stopped. Rae’s comments came as speculation was growing over whether Russia’s invasion would embolden China to invade Taiwan.

Mixed reactions to expected inflow of Ukrainian refugees

Many ethnic media outlets have also zeroed in on the prospect of a large number of Ukrainian refugees, as immigration is generally a topic of great interest to newcomer communities.

Russian Week featured Michael Bociurkiw, a Canadian security expert, who argued that many Ukrainians are talented and have multiple degrees, so they are exactly the type of immigrants Canada needs. OMNI Filipino News featured immigration lawyer Chantal Iannicielo, who pointed out that Ukraine is the only country in the region whose citizens require visas for Canada, so if Canadian authorities really want to allow people to leave Ukraine quickly, they should lift the visa requirement.

Countering foreign media reports that some people of colour fleeing the war cannot get through the Ukraine-Poland border due to the colour of their skin, an article in the Polish Goniec quoted Polish UN Ambassador Krzysztof Szczerski, who said that assertions of race- or religion-based discrimination at Poland’s border were “a complete lie and a terrible insult to us.”

MIREMS Chinese-language analyst Vivian Kwan notes that the Chinese media have traditionally held a more negative view of refugee acceptance in Canada, especially when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accepted a large number of Syrian refugees between 2015 and 2016. To that point, the Chinese website Van People quoted Trudeau’s statement that Ukrainian immigrants will be prioritized. The editor commented that Canada has a goal to recruit 1.3 million newcomers in three years, but the spots have all been reserved for “these people” (i.e. refugees).

Van People also reported on increasing animosity between Russian and Ukrainian residents of Toronto, who have been tearing flags off and damaging each other’s cars. “Other than history, one part of the explanation for this cleavage … is that people in both communities do their best to follow homeland news and media as well, perhaps out of concern for families there, and become polarized by the atrocities of war,” says Machalski.

Source: Russia’s attack on Ukraine sparks outrage in Canada’s multilingual media

Ethnic media provides added perspectives on “Freedom Convoy”

Useful coverage by New Canadian Media and MIREMS:

Over the last week, from Feb 3. to 10, various ethnic media outlets offered a wider range of perspectives on three hot-button issues that have dominated mainstream headlines.

From the so-called Freedom Convoy, to Erin O’Toole’s ousting as leader of the Conservative Party, to the Black History Month, ethnic media provided coverage that went beyond the usual suspects interviewed by the mainstream.

By elevating different cultural perspectives, opinions and narratives, ethnic media was able to provide coverage that offers a fuller understanding of the issues at play. NCM has worked with MIREMS to bring readers these added perspectives.

Polarizing ‘Freedom Convoy’

The top story in both the mainstream and the ethnic media was the ‘Freedom Convoy’ protesting against vaccine mandates and pandemic restrictions in Ottawa and provincial capitals as well as land border crossings to the U.S. The Romanian paper Faptu Divers, for example, supported the convoy in multiple articles and likened Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu for curtailing people’s freedoms, while the Polish paper Goniec reported that that community provided food for the protesters. The Polish Gazeta, on the other hand, focused on the harassment, racism and misbehaviour of the protesters. 

Both the Russian Vancouverovka and Russian Week highlighted comments by CBC host Nil Köksal suggesting that Russian actors are behind the protests because of Canada’s support for Ukraine.

Multiple features on OMNI TV News Filipino focused on the impact the protests had on members of the Filipino community, who reported being afraid to leave their homes because of the harassment from protesters.  

A feature on OMNI TV Italian focused on the racist messaging at the protests. G98.7 FM online radio featured responses from the Black parliamentary caucus to the public display of hate symbols, including the Confederate flag as a symbol for slavery.

Punjabi media focused on Punjabi truckers, who make up about a quarter of all Canadian truckers, and the hardships of the industry. OMNI News Punjabi featured some Punjabis among the protesters, who emphasized that they are against the mandates, not the vaccine, and object to protesters being silenced and insulted as extremists. 

Several other features on OMNI Punjabi focused on Punjabi truckers who are stuck on the U.S. side of the Canadian border by Coutts, Alberta and by Windsor, Ontario. These truckers had to reportedly live in their trucks for days without access to food or medical supplies and were unable to do their jobs, deliver their goods and attend to personal commitments back home. Several other features highlighted that the Punjabi truckers have other priorities. 

According to ethnic media reports, most Punjabi truckers are vaccinated, as vaccine coverage in the Punjabi community is high. Their priorities are around road safety, snow clearance, road maintenance, as well as working conditions and wage theft. 

In fact, the West Coast Trucking Association organized a separate protest in January to demand better road maintenance on B.C. highways, which has not been mentioned by anyone taking part at the ‘Freedom Convoy.’ One trucker started an online fundraiser to “Support Canada’s real struggling truckers,” which had raised $7,866 as of Feb. 9, according to OMNI Punjabi.

Chinese media on O’Toole’s ousting

Another top story was the Conservative leadership race. 

Coverage reflected the vote to oust Erin O’Toole, the selection of Candice Bergen as interim leader, the candidacy of Pierre Poilievre, and speculations around other potential candidates such as Premier Doug Ford, Mayor Patrick Brown, Peter MacKay and Jean Charest. 

However, the race took a particular spin in the Chinese media, where it was coloured by perceptions of the Conservative party’s hostility towards China. Erin O’Toole was perceived to be extremely anti-China, which may have lost the Conservatives several constituencies with a significant Chinese population in the last election, as Ming Pao Toronto reported on Feb. 3. 

Reports reflect that Chinese media were relieved and delighted at O’Toole’s ousting, because having him as prime minister would, in their view, further increase discrimination and hate against the Chinese diaspora, according to reports from Van People. 

And according to a report on Sing Tao Vancouver, Lin Wen, co-founder of the Canadian Chinese Political Affairs Council, figured that no matter who the new Conservative leader is, the Conservative Party’s China policy will not be changed.

Black History Month beyond the usual

Another topic that has more prominence in the ethnic media than in the mainstream has been Black History Month. 

In the mainstream, Black History Month was covered either from a bird’s-eye view of its significance, sometimes with reference to event listings, or with a focus on statements by political leaders, from the Prime Minister to local mayors. It also looked at ceremonies like flag-raisings and museum exhibits. Some contributions feature a Black author or a celebrity like Lincoln Alexander. 

The ethnic media, on the other hand, were more focused on issues of concern to and activities arising within the Black community. 

The radio station G 98.7 FM and OMNI TV reported in depth on the BE-STEMM 2022 virtual conference organized by the Canadian Black Scientists Network. The network has found that there are few Blacks in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) because Black students are not encouraged to pursue these areas in school. The network aims to open doors for Black people in Canada and around the world, as G 98.7 FM and OMNI TV Focus Punjabi reported on Feb. 4.

Another talk show on G 98.7 FM was devoted to a discussion on COVID with members of the Black Scientists’ Task Force on Vaccine Equity. According to the task force, the Black community is over-exposed to COVID because many cannot work from home, have to commute on public transit, work in customer service or care-giving jobs, and have underlying health conditions putting them at greater risk, such as hypertension, diabetes and asthma. 

School disruption was also discussed as something that wreaks more havoc for Black and low-income children’s learning than for other groups. At the same time, Blacks are under-vaccinated because they distrust the authorities, information is not communicated to them appropriately, and they are targets of racialized disinformation using specific triggers from their historical experience.

Ethnic media’s coattails

Often, ethnic media highlights issues of concern to a community that are either not reflected in the mainstream media or which are only picked up by it after they circulate in the ethnic media for a while. 

One such example was a story about the Hindu community in B.C. protesting against a new small business owner who is using an image of Lord Ganesh along with profane language in her logo. 

Community members, including about 40 organizations, are gathering signatures to have her stop using either the image or the wording, have approached local MLAs and MPs, held a protest at the Hindu temple, and are looking into legal action and mounting a PR campaign on social media. 

They feel this is cultural appropriation, Hinduphobia and racism, and they want a new law to protect Hindu culture. MP Sukh Dhaliwal attended the protest and said Canada is a diverse country and that we should celebrate each other’s culture and faith. He was going to approach the Heritage Minister and Prime Minister about this. 

The story broke on the indiansinvancouver.ca blog on Jan. 31 and then on the Desibuzz Canada news website on Feb. 4. It was only then that it was picked up by CBC Vancouver on Feb. 6 as a report about the protest at the temple and by the Punjabi station Zee TV on Feb. 8. 

Source: Ethnic media provides added perspectives on “Freedom Convoy”

Biden Is Reviving An Effort To Change How The Census Asks About Race And Ethnicity

Of note (as Canada continues its review):

President Biden’s White House is reviving a previously stalled review of proposed policy changes that could allow the Census Bureau to ask about people’s race and ethnicity in a radical new way in time for the 2030 head count, NPR has learned.

First proposed in 2016, the recommendations lost steam during former President Donald Trump’s administration despite years of research by the bureau that suggested a new question format would improve the accuracy of 2020 census data about Latinos and people with roots in the Middle East or North Africa.

The proposals also appear to have received the backing of other federal government experts on data about race and ethnicity, based on a redacted document that NPR obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. The document lists headings for redacted descriptions of the group’s “recommended improvements,” including “Improve data quality: Allow flexibility in question format for self-reported race and ethnicity.”

Stalling by Trump officials, however, sealed the fate of last year’s census forms. With no public decision by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, the bureau was forced to stick with previously used racial and ethnic categories and a question format that, the agency’s studies show, a growing number of people find confusing and not reflective of how they identify.

That has raised concerns about the reliability of the next set of 2020 census results, which are expected out by Aug. 16 and face a tangle of other complications stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration’s interference with the count’s schedule and the bureau’s new privacy protection plans. That detailed demographic data is used to redraw voting districts, enforce civil rights protections and guide policymaking and research.

The review continues under Biden’s OMB

The proposals, however, may be approved by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget under the Biden administration, which has been calling to change how the government produces and uses data about people of color and other marginalized groups.

“We are continuing to review the prior technical recommendations and public comment, and the extent to which those recommendations help advance this Administration’s goal of gathering the data necessary to inform our ambitious equity agenda,” Abdullah Hasan, an OMB spokesperson, tells NPR.

Hasan did not provide a timeline for the current review of the proposed changes to the government’s standards for data about race and ethnicity, which are set by OMB and must be followed by all federal agencies, including the bureau. OMB had previously planned to announce a decision in 2017, before the bureau had to finalize the 2020 census forms.

Other recommended changes include no longer officially allowing federal surveys to use the term “Negro” to describe the “Black” category. Another proposal would remove the term “Far East” from the standards as a description of a geographic region of origin for people of Asian descent.

Support from Biden’s pick for Census Bureau director

This month, Biden’s nominee for Census Bureau director, Robert Santos, pledged to lawmakers that, if confirmed, he would support one of the major recommendations, which would allow census forms to combine the separate race and Hispanic origin questions into one. A combined question, tests by the bureau’s researchers show, would help the bureau address the problem of increasingly more people leaving the race question unanswered or checking off the box for “Some Other Race”— the third-largest racial group reported in 2000 and 2010.

“The census director doesn’t have the authority to include any specific questions,” Santos said in response to a question from Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., during a confirmation hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “But I can use my own personal perspective as a Latino and use my research experience and my leadership position to work with OMB to make sure that the proper attention is given to that specific issue.”

An expert in designing surveys and currently the Urban Institute’s chief methodologist, Santos has written about the need for questions and categories on census forms to “evolve and adapt to ensure everyone is fairly represented,” including the Latinx population, one of the country’s fastest-growing groups.

“Racial and ethnic categories are social constructs, defined and designed by those who have historically held positions of influence,” Santos said in a 2019 blog post co-written with Jorge González-Hermoso, an Urban Institute research analyst. “The policy implications of using inadequate methods to collect data on identity are not trivial.”

During the hearing, Santos suggested that if OMB ultimately approves the proposed policy changes, the bureau may not have to wait until the 2030 census to use a combined race-ethnicity question, which Santos said could potentially be incorporated into the bureau’s ongoing American Community Survey.

COVID-19: Ethnic Media Lessons from 2020 for an Inclusive Recovery

Useful and informative summary and report:

Multilingual International Research and Ethnic Media Services presents its year long research into ethnic media coverage on the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 in the form of five articles. These articles were published or excerpted by New Canadian Media as a result of support from Canadian Heritage through its Digital Citizen Contribution Program. We would like to thank New Canadian Media for giving us the opportunity to write these pieces.

The white paper provides an overview of the lessons learned in 2020 from engaging with diverse communities in the fight against the COVID-19, which may useful in 2021 as the pandemic continues. In order to capture coverage needed to produce this white paper, we spent a year regularly monitoring over 800 ethnic media outlets across Canada in 30+ language groups.

The 30+ language groups/communities whose ethnic media we tracked include Arabic, Armenian, Bengali, Caribbean, Chinese (incl. Cantonese & Mandarin), Farsi, Filipino, German, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Jewish, Korean, Muslim, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Somali, South Asian, Spanish, Sri Lankan, Tamil, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu and Vietnamese.

The ethnic media outlets we tracked spanned the four mediums of print, web, radio and TV and were mostly based in the metropolitan areas of Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. These urban centres attract the most immigrants each year, thus resulting in a concentration of ethnic media outlets in Canada’s most populated cities.

The actionable intelligence gained as a result of our ethnic media research provides insight into the impact of COVID-19 on newcomers and racialized communities, who have been some of the most affected by the pandemic. Out of the 1,130 translated ethnic media story summaries we produced in 2020 for this report, 169 were focused on mental health, 193 on the economic impact of COVID-19, 350 on immigration and 118 on the culture vs. economy debate as a cause of the prevalence of COVID-19.

 Our white paper is divided into five pieces, four written by MIREMS Editor-in-Chief Silke Reichrath and one by MIREMS President Andres Machalski. The following are brief abstracts:

 1) Media Representation of Newcomer Communities with High COVID-19 Rates

This channel is extremely influential in the fight against social media disinformation among newcomers. It shows these outlets fulfill a very real need to translate government and expert messaging into culturally and linguistically relevant formats and in adding information from the grassroots. This channel is extremely influential in the fight against social media disinformation among newcomers 

2) Mental Health and Domestic Violence in the Ethnic Media

Stigma around mental health challenges is still widespread in newcomer communities and many newcomers are not aware of available supports through community organizations and settlement service providers, especially now that programs have moved online. In this context, ethnic media have a significant role to play in raising awareness around mental health issues, the impacts of the pandemic on different segments of the population, and the services available to them.

3) Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Immigration Communities

The ethnic media have fulfilled a valuable role during the pandemic in keeping their audiences informed about the latest public health guidelines regarding business openings and closures, and about benefits and aid programs available from the three levels of government. These outlets have raised awareness in general about how the pandemic is affecting the national and local economy, have featured charitable initiatives by the community, and have encouraged community members to support local businesses by buying local, particularly from smaller businesses. Recovery is only a matter of time, and ethnic media can be expected to do their share in reflecting community concerns and advocating for equity in the rebuilding process.

 Ethnic media have been instrumental in highlighting community initiatives to counteract the pandemic spread and in giving voice to grassroots opinions. It shows these outlets fulfill a very real need to translate government and expert messaging into culturally and linguistically relevant formats and in adding information from the grassroots.

  4) COVID-19 Impact on Immigration – Analysis

Over the pandemic year of 2020, the ethnic media has been instrumental in reporting on and clarifying government policy, processes and programs. Ethnic media coverage focused on the impact of COVID on immigration levels, border closures and travel restrictions, visa extensions for temporary residents stranded in Canada, work permit regulations, farm worker rights and COVID safety protocols, COVID-related accommodations for international students, modifications to the Express Entry draws, and the guardian angel program for front-line care providers. The ethnic media also documented the unique challenges different migrant constituencies face, reflecting the lived experiences of the various newcomer communities.

5) The Role of Ethnic Media in the War Against Pandemic, Pandemonium, Poverty and Panic

The ethnic media undeniably exists and is part of the communications fabric of our society, but it is one that is often ignored, despite its key positioning as a conduit to and from diverse communities. These outlets are essential to the central position diverse communications will play in restoring the social cohesion needed to overcome not only the COVID-19 virus, but its fall out. Canadian corporate and government leaders need to recognize the ethnic media as a key asset in the fight against COVID-19, which is at the same time a fight against social disruption, poverty, and mental anguish.

Source: http://www.mirems.com/uploads/8/1/4/2/8142628/covid-19_-ethnic_media_lessons_from_2020-_white_paper.pdf

Quebec: Un manque de diversité flagrant dans une publicité gouvernementale

Not surprising, but not acceptable, given that COVID-19 has a disproportionate affect on visible minorities given their overall lower socioeconomic status and more exposed work environments:

Où sont les Siméus, Touré, Obomsawin, Reyes, Saddiqi, Mansourian, Torres, Farhat, Tran, Kpadé?

Samedi dernier, le premier ministre François Legault et son gouvernement étaient fiers de nous présenter une nouvelle publicité réalisée en partenariat avec le Canadien de Montréal. « On est tous dans la même équipe contre la COVID-19 », peut-on y lire. « Fortin, Tremblay, Joseph, Sioui, Lévesque, Bergeron, Toulouse, Sauvé, Caron, Murphy, Boucher et Vaillancourt », peut-on y entendre. Le gouvernement caquiste nous présentait un lineup qui sonnait faux aux oreilles de plusieurs Québécoises et Québécois en raison de son manque de diversité flagrant. Et non, on ne leur donnera pas une tape sur l’épaule parce qu’un Joseph a été inclus comme un bon token noir.

Ceci n’est pas un caprice de « gauchistes », que les détracteurs des mouvements anti-racistes et anti-oppressifs de ce monde aiment dépeindre comme des pleurnichards. Les médias, le divertissement et le sport, en particulier le hockey, marquent les esprits et laissent leur empreinte dans l’imaginaire collectif. Le message pas-si-subliminal que fait passer cette publicité, c’est que l’on n’est pas dans la même équipe. Ce manque de diversité est un manque de respect envers les travailleurs de la santé racisés et issus de l’immigration. En juin dernier, un rapport de Statistique Canada révélait que, lors du plus récent recensement, réalisé en 2016, 36 % des aides-infirmiers, aides-soignants et préposés aux bénéficiaires au Canada n’étaient pas des Fortin-Tremblay-Sauvé-Caron, mais bel et bien des immigrants aux noms trop exotiques pour les oreilles de certains. Il va sans dire que, depuis le début de la crise de la COVID-19, les travailleurs racisés, parfois surqualifiés, ont été au front dans les CHSLD et les services essentiels, avec peu de reconnaissance outre les encouragements du type « J’peux pas t’aider, mais tiens bon ! ».

C’est aussi dans les quartiers les plus défavorisés de Montréal et dans ceux qui accueillent un grand nombre d’immigrants que la COVID-19 a fait le plus de dégâts. Alors que l’opinion publique fait le procès des groupes minoritaires pour les éclosions dans leurs communautés, on se voile les yeux devant les déterminants socioéconomiques qui les rendent inévitables. Des inégalités systémiques font que 21 % des Noirs canadiens connaissent une personne décédée de la COVID-19, contre 8 % pour les non-Noirs, selon une étude du Boston Consulting Group. Augmentation du taux de chômage, plus grandes chances d’attraper le virus — les personnes racisées souffrent davantage des effets de la crise sanitaire, selon l’Observatoire québécois des inégalités, et ce, sans compter l’augmentation des comportements discriminatoires et du racisme anti-asiatique. Vingt-et-un pour cent des personnes issues des minorités visibles vivent et ressentent cette exacerbation des incidents de harcèlement et d’attaques racistes.

Un coup de pub qui aurait interpellé toutes les personnes concernées aurait été bien plus efficace pour rallier nos troupes et atteindre nos objectifs de santé publique, mais le gouvernement Legault a choisi de faire autrement. Il reste à voir si cette erreur, quoique très gênante, n’était que de la maladresse ou le reflet du racisme systémique nié par le gouvernement. Quoi qu’il en soit, ne nous laissons pas distraire et continuons à revendiquer l’élargissement des critères pour les anges demandeurs d’asile. Une reconnaissance et un plan d’action concret contre le racisme systémique, dont cette publicité est un exemple, s’imposent.

Source: Un manque de diversité flagrant dans une publicité gouvernementale

Engage the ethnic press to combat vaccine hesitancy

Star has been featuring a number of similar op-eds, this being the latest:

In recent days, doctors across Canada have been calling for “culturally competent” campaigns to fight vaccine hesitancy. But we need much more than that.

In long-term-care homes, there have been reports of personal support workers (PSWs) refusing to be vaccinated — despite the fact they work in high-risk environments. Many essential workers, including PSWs, are from highly racialized populations.

Some of the worst COVID-19 hot spots across the country have been in population centres with high counts of new Canadians and immigrants.

Knowing that, you might imagine that governments would be placing public health announcements in as many ethnic publications as possible. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.

The Government of Canada only advertises in 11 languages aside from English and French. There are far too many outlets who aren’t receiving any government ads to share with their readership. As some doctors have reported from firsthand experience, the outreach to ethnic outlets has been, in some cases, non-existent.

When the pandemic hit, ethnic media was particularly affected. Most advertisers for ethnic newspapers, radio shows and TV shows are small businesses, hosts of events and conventions — all sectors hit particularly hard from the get-go.

Though some government assistance reached some members of the ethnic press, for far too many, the collapse of advertising was too much to bear. Many outlets weren’t eligible for any government assistance.

What that has meant is that outlets have closed, gone purely digital, cut their publication schedules, laid off staff, cut circulation or some combination thereof.

Day-to-day, this has meant less access to reliable and accurate news for new Canadians and immigrants. Non-English-speaking seniors, who relied on their printed ethnic newspaper to stay informed, have seen their access to news yanked away or reduced.

Even worse is that even if they are still getting a paper, it doesn’t necessarily contain accurate information from government sources — information that is going to be critical as we continue the fight against COVID-19 and misinformation about the vaccine.

While misinformation has spread, ethnic reporters have been laid off. We have tracked this — layoffs now reach as high as 80 per cent. Fewer staff means less news for the outlets who have managed to survive.

There is no magic bullet to fix vaccine hesitancy, but engaging the ethnic press will help in communities that need it. It’s not just about dollars — we need the government to send public health experts onto ethnic shows, press releases to be translated into as many languages as possible and regular government-led briefings for ethnic media.

And yes, we need to keep ethnic publications afloat and help them return to their pre-pandemic publishing schedules.

Canada’s Chinese language press isn’t just combating misinformation from Canada, it’s combating misinformation from around the world. The same goes for outlets publishing in Polish, Spanish and every other language under the sun.

The best way to fight fake news is with the truth. Ethnic journalists are ready to work to spread it in as many languages as possible.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2021/02/01/engage-the-ethnic-press-to-combat-vaccine-hesitancy.html

What an Inclusive Recovery from the COVID-19 “Economic Firestorm” Could Look Like: Ethnic and Mainstream Media comparison

Latest overview of ethnic media coverage and mainstream comparison, showing relatively small differences:

Paid sick leave, affordable childcare, reform of the Employment Insurance system, better-quality jobs and higher minimum wage are some of the elements needed to ensure an inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit visible minorities and immigrants the hardest, according to ethnic media coverage of the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Especially early into the pandemic, visible minorities and recent immigrants were more impacted by job losses, inability to meet financial obligations and essential needs than white Canadians and long-term immigrants or Canadian-born population, showed several studies cited in the media, as analyzed from May to December 2020.

The July Labour Force Survey (for the first time based on data disaggregated by race and visible minority status) showed that the unemployment rate was higher for South Asian, Arab, and Black Canadians, which Statistics Canada linked to higher representation of these minorities in hard-hit industries such as food services and retail. Immigrant women were also shown to be disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Questions around lockdowns

As the second wave of the pandemic brought with it new lockdowns (Toronto and Peel region moved into lockdown on November 23, and a province-wide shutdown in Ontario has been in effect since December 26), the media gave voice to those questioning the effectiveness of such measures in places where most infections happen in industrial and essential workplace settings, like the city of Brampton.

Mayor of Brampton Patrick Brown was one of the most often cited critical voices, who called the forced closure of small businesses “tinkering around the edges.” Multiple outlets cited Brown as saying that the lockdown in Peel Region was not likely to dramatically reduce the number of new COVID-19 infections in Brampton without other supports in place: better sick benefits, an isolation centre, and better access to testing.

He stressed that staff in factories and front-line workers lose their paycheque if they do not come to work, so many are forced to choose between going to work with symptoms and making the rent payment or putting food on the table.

In late November, Brown made headlines with an appeal by a group of Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) mayors to the province of Ontario for sick leave benefits for front-line workers. Brampton mayor called the benefits “a missing link” in the pandemic response. As reported, the mayors also asked the provincial government to sign an agreement with employers, reassuring employees that they would not lose their jobs or their salary if they tested positive for COVID-19.

Pressure for sick days came from many sides. A widely cited September report by the researcher ICES found not only that immigrants, refugees and other newcomers accounted for a whopping 44 per cent of all COVID-19 cases in Ontario in the first half of 2020 but also that many immigrants and refugees faced systemic inequities including lower pay and precarious employment without the right to sick leave.

The systemic inequities like the fact that many essential workers cannot afford to self-isolate away from their families need to be addressed, Regional Councillor in Brampton Rowena Santos said in an interview with one of the outlets in November, calling for better access to healthcare, higher quality jobs, sick days and higher minimum wage.

In late November, the media carried a message from Health Minister Patty Hajdu, who said the federal government was working with provinces and territories on sick leave. She admitted it was necessary to have low-barrier access to Employment Insurance (EI) for those working on the front lines, and that workers can be eligible for EI with 170 hours of work.

Calls for EI reform

Problems with accessing EI, especially by underemployed workers and expectant mothers for whom the pandemic-induced job cuts meant not enough working hours to qualify for benefits, prompted calls for the reform of the outdated EI system early on.

A Workers’ Action Centre activist cited in ethnic media in August pointed to the situation of the underemployed, especially restaurant staff and people in the tourism industry, who did not have working hour guarantees in their contracts and who may not be able to obtain a record of employment to access EI when the Canada Emergency Response Benefits (CERB) end. He also pointed to self-employed workers such as Uber drivers or people working in food delivery services

“She-covery” and the importance of childcare

Women, especially racialized women, are over-represented in precarious, low-paying jobs, so the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate economic impact on them, as demonstrated by various reports cited in multiple ethnic media outlets. A September report by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce entitled “The She-Covery Project” pointed out that women’s labour participation rate had fallen to its lowest in 30 years.

Reports that female immigrants, especially working in health care, were hit especially hard by the pandemic have prompted calls for policies instituting higher pay, paid sick leave, universal childcare and eldercare, and affordable housing.

Since mothers were usually the ones losing their jobs or staying home to take care of the children during the pandemic, the central role of affordable daycare in the economic recovery plans was stressed by the media and the policymakers alike, including in a slew of December media appearances by the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Ahmed Hussen. Hussen promised the federal government would create a nationwide childcare program, with details to come in the spring of 2021.

“Shop local” campaign to support small businesses

The struggles of small businesses, often owned by immigrants or visible minorities, also featured strongly in ethnic media coverage, with the newest lockdowns bringing renewed fears of severe economic impacts, but few solutions in sight.

The media stressed that while small businesses like hair salons were forced to close their doors, big retailers like Amazon were allowed to operate. One of the victims of the pandemic featured in October was a Black owner of a beauty parlour who was ineligible for government support, as she had opened her salon only in 2020.

The prospects for small businesses appeared bleak yet in August. Jon Shell, managing director at Social Capital Partners and a co-founder of the Save Small Business campaign, was cited as saying that “the recovery looks like it will be very weak for local community businesses, making additional cash flow hard to come by over the rest of the year. Many will not survive.”

Patrick Brown admitted back in May that the pandemic was an “economic firestorm,” and the small stores and businesses were especially badly affected. He called on Brampton residents to support them by shopping locally and ordering take-out food from restaurants in their neighbourhoods. A similar appeal by Ontario Premier Doug Ford was aired in October. The media also reported on Ontario’s NDP Leader Andrea Horwath’s Save Main Street plan, supported by the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce (CBCC).

The government’s commercial rent assistance program was criticized as ineffective: few landlords decided to participate, as that would have forced them to cover 25 per cent of the rent.

Coverage of other government programs addressed to small businesses was rather limited. Apart from announcements of subsequent extensions of the wage subsidy program, the Canada Emergency Business Account was mentioned only once in a collection of around 200 media clippings—in the context of the government’s recovery plan presented in early December by Minister Hussen.

Comparative analysis with mainstream media

The analysis of Toronto Star coverage was focused on the pandemic’s impact on small businesses. More than half of the articles discussing challenges faced by different types of businesses showcased those owned by immigrants and many told their stories of going through the painful process of closing down permanently.

A lot of coverage was also devoted to government measures and how businesses can access them, for example the Canada Emergency Business Account. Different polls and appeals from business advocacy groups and other stakeholders for the government to do more to help small business owners were also featured.

Like ethnic media, the paper discussed the unfair advantage during lockdown of big-box stores over small businesses. Unlike ethnic media, it also covered the spike in insurance premiums as one of the key factors that forced many businesses to shut down.

In terms of navigating the difficulties of the pandemic, the Star also presented various innovations such as ghost kitchens, a business incubator called District Ventures Kitchen, and other new approaches to doing business in food service. 

Insight from MIREMS media monitoring

Ethnic media “can be expected to become an important voice for ethnically inclusive recovery initiatives,” commented Silke Reichrath, Editor-in-Chief at MIREMS.

“The coverage showed time and again how newcomers often work in essential jobs, which makes them more susceptible to virus exposure,” she stressed. Sectors in focus that rely heavily on newcomers included the taxi industry, the hotel and tourism sector, meat processing plants, long-term care and health care.

Overall, ethnic media have kept their audiences informed about the latest public health guidelines about business openings and closures and about benefits and aid programs available from the three levels of government, Reichrath said.

“They have also raised awareness in general about how the pandemic is affecting the national and local economy, have featured charitable initiatives by the community, and have encouraged community members to support local businesses by buying local, particularly from smaller businesses,” she added.

Methodology: This ethnic media analysis is based on a selection of 200 summaries of articles and broadcast segments in radio, TV, print and web sources between May and December, 2020, with special focus on the last six months of last year. These summaries were found in 450 active ethnic media sources monitored by MIREMS. 

For mainstream media analysis, the ProQuest Databases Platform was searched using the keywords “business owners” and “COVID-19.” A total of 181 articles published in Toronto Star from July 1 to Dec. 31, 2020 were included for review.

Source: https://newcanadianmedia.ca/what-an-inclusive-recovery-from-economic-business-firestorm-of-covid-19-could-look-like/#ethnic-m