The Montreal Tribune
THE ETHNICITY OF MONTREAL
Page Editor Conrad David Brillantes
The ethnicity of Montreal began with so many different stories between the French and the English. Whichever is right really doesn’t bother me. These days it became a city of multi cultural people representing all five continents of the world. It’s a lively city despite the politics of prolonging the life of a language that sits right in the middle of an ocean of the dominant English.
But, that’s not this column is going to talk about. I will concentrate more on the different cultural communities that inhabits the city, which is more colorful than the boring politics of the Separatists and the Federalists.
I invite the leaders of the different ethnic communities to share their stories with us so the world would have a chance to see how they function well and had the chance to better themselves both in economics and politics without persecution of any kind, a real democracy in works.
In opening this section, I am posting here a letter from one of the leaders of the Filipino community. For comments please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE VOICE OF THE NEW CANADIAN
This is a running installment in an ongoing series planned by The Montreal Tribune that is intended to give voice to Montreal's immigrant community.
This series is intended as a forum wherein people from foreign lands can express their views on Canada, Quebec, Montreal and their broader outlooks on life.
Through running a series of such points-of-view, The Tribune hopes readers will expand their own views and broaden their philosophical horizons.
Danny Kuldip, shown here in front of his store on Liege West and Champagneur streets, sees hope for society through God, conscience, and astrology
By Martin Stone
Danny Kuldip, Pisces with Cancer rising came to Montreal in 1975 from Alness Village, Guiana, South America, seventh of the 10 children of Indian descent couple Jai Jagat and Betlen Kuldip.
He started a corner-store business specializing in exotic foods, and has watched it steadily grow over the years.
A poet at heart, the 44-year-old visionary has some strong, if unusual, ideas about what ails society and what some of the cures may be.
The Tribune interviewed him in his Park Extension neighbourhood to capture part of his take on life and the world we live in:
"I believe the main problem of this society is that people of conscience don't go into politics," he said. "They don't look for political positions. They don't become lawyers or judges. The way they are acting one would think they are waiting for the second coming of Jesus Christ.
"Me too, I would like to see Jesus Christ. But, the way I look at it, if you don't go for politics, you cannot change the law. Most people of conscience don't even vote unless its very important. The people that goes for politics are the people that maybe want early retirement, good salary, to look good in a tie.
"If I was in a position to do something about it, I would make it a law that no politician shall wear a tie.
"But, you cannot blame them. Because the people of conscience don't go, someone has to go. What I have seen, for example, very often you hear someone say, ‘Hey, you're a nice person, you have heart, you have a brain, you have common sense, you ought to be in politics.' But the person says, ‘Oh no, I can't go into politics. Politics is corruptive. If I go into politics, I'm going to be like them. I'm going to end up being corrupted.…'
"But, I say to these people, they are nothing but a chicken. A chicken means someone who has heart, they have a brain, they have common sense, but they don't have guts. They don't have courage.
"People say that most politicians are corrupted, in general, but these people that go into politics, were corrupted before they got there. They were wolves when they went in, but they put on the clothes of a sheep. But, when they are in, then you will see the wolf.
"The solution? Well, we have to make sure it is in the media. Then the people of conscience will come out ... have a meeting or something. Once they see you are blaming them, they will come out. Their consciences will bother them if they don't come out.
"Let me point out that it would be next to impossible for just one person with a conscience to stand up and fight such evil.
"One thing I suggest people with conscience should do, would be to change the laws. For example, the first thing I believe they should change is the system of the bible in the courtroom. Any criminal who goes to court, they give them a bible to swear on. I believe that if these people were afraid of the bible they wouldn't be there in the first place. I have an idea that would change the system. We need to put a picture of a loved one for them to swear on."
The Tribune asked Kuldip, if he thought it possible for human beings to be self-governing, with no man-made laws, no police, no politicians?
"Yes, its very possible. There are two ways. The way of God. I believe that if we humans would only try to fear God, this earth would be like heaven. The other way, I would introduce astrology. In school, that would be a high priority. Astrology teaches you so much. It teaches you that people are not bad. They are just different. It teaches you there are different strokes for different folks. It teaches you that one person's meat is another person's poison.
" I know the church is against astrology. Seventy-five percent of the world is against astrology.
"The church is trying to teach people how to live with God. No offence, but people don't know how to live with people ... now they are trying to live with God. "Astrology teaches you we can have peace on earth. In the world we are living in, maybe 98 percent of the people are married to the wrong people. How many times have you heard on the news that some person loses his cool and shoots his wife, and then commits suicide. It's not their fault. They are living with someone they don't have anything in common with.
"For example - it's like a cow being married to a dog, and they are living in the same house. Apart, they're okay. But under the same roof, who is going to compromise?
"Lets say the dog gave the cow his best bone. Cows don't eat bones. The cow is going to throw the bone outside and kick the dog. And, the other way around, let's say the cow was at home and she gave the dog her best grass. The dog is going to throw the grass aside and bite the cow. Its not their fault. If they introduce astrology to society there will be peace on earth.
"Violence against women would be a thing of the past. Stress would be a thing of the past. Racism would be a thing of the past. Racist people grow up in a house of racism. If you come from a house of love, you will give love outside."
To help better explain his thoughts, Kuldip likes to use parables:
"You don't have to look for God," he insists. "You don't have to go to church to pray for God. One parable, about the Good Samaritan, says some robbers beat him up. The chief priest was passing on the same side of the road, and when he saw that, he crossed and went on the other side. And soon after that, a highly respected man from the village was passing, and when he saw that, he too crossed and went on the other side. After that, a stranger from another place was passing and when he saw what was happening he came over and helped and took the guy to the inn.
"From that, a wise person will find a word of wisdom: ‘I expect to pass through this world but once, so any good therefore I can do, or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now, let me not neglect it. For I will not pass this way again.
Another of Kuldip's favourite parables is about humility:
"There was this guy who goes to church everyday. He was in front of the altar, praying, saying God look at me. Look what I do. I do this. I do that. I come to church so many days a week. I give so much of my money to the church. I don't eat this. I don't eat that. I fast. I'm not like the other people. Then a sinner came next to him. He opened his shirt and beat on his chest. And he said, ‘Oh, please God, have mercy on me.' Who do you think God is going to show mercy to? The one that goes to church everyday? The one that fasts all the time? Or the sinner who is being humble?
"It's the sinner. Why? Because, they say, if you make yourself great, God is going to pull you down. But if you make yourself humble, God is going to lift you up.
"If you try to keep those two parables in your heart, and try to live by them, you don't have to go look for God. God will be looking for you!"
The Tribune asked: Why do you blame 100 percent of the problems of society on the people with conscience?
"I will say it in the form of another parable," Kuldip replied.
"There were once two boys in school. One was a bright student. One was a dunce. So at exam time, the dunce kept getting 10 out of 10 wrong and the bright student kept getting 10 out of 10 rights. One day the professor is doing the marks for the dumb student and he sees something strange, the guy got one right. So the professor lifted his chin and he's happy for the guy. So the professor told the guy, ‘Oh, you make your professor proud today. You got one right, I'm happy for you.' He gave him a pat on the back and told him to keep up the good work.
"Now he starts the marks for the bright student and he sees one wrong. He gets mad, turns red. The hair stands up on his head. The professor told the guy, ‘Your professor is very disappointed in you my boy. You got one wrong.' So he told the guy to bend over and he gave him 10 strokes on the butt. So the guy wasn't too pleased about that. He said: ‘Professor, look what you're doing. It doesn't make sense. I got one wrong and you beat me. And my boy here, he doesn't know anything, and he got one right, and you give him a pat on the back. Why is it like this professor?'
"The professor sat down and explained it. ‘Why I gave the guy a pat on the back is because he knows nothing, but he's trying. So now he'll try harder. But you, on the other hand, you know better, and in my book, if you know better you should always do better.'
"That's why I blame people with conscience. The dunce children represent the politicians. But they're trying, and if they do something okay, society gives them a pat on the back, hoping they will try harder.
"And the bright students are the people with conscience. They know better. That's why I'm blaming them. There are a lot people who have ears but they cannot listen. They have tongues but they cannot speak. They have feet but they cannot walk. They have hands and they cannot move them."
To end the interview, Kuldip recited one of his inspirational poems:
The human mind
There are many different kinds of people in this world
Those with the smallest minds - they have ideas to lie, to murder, to steal
You could call them the evildoers
Those with small minds are nearsighted, narrow-minded
They love to talk about people, those gossips
They don't think before they open their mouths
Those with normal minds speak about daily events
You could call them the average person
Those with above-normal minds speak about ideas, development, invention
Those are the ones that would like to improve the standard of life for the people
Those with great minds talk about fate, peace, love, unity
You could call them the God-fearing ones
Which mind is yours?
Post 9/11 ordeal at the U.S. Border
By Tokunbo Ojo
In my several years of traveling around the world, I have never been subjected to the humiliation and animalistic treat I was given on May 24 at the U.S.-Canada border. Apart from questioning the authenticity of my Canadian passport, American immigration officers D.R. Moore, J. Wilson and C.A. Racine – held me for over two hours, seized my mobile phone, and prevented me from contacting the Canadian embassy ort immigration Canada.
As long as I live, this horrible ordeal shall remain fresh in my memory. Having dropped off my soccer clips for Montreal Gazette sports editor Mark Tremblay, I joined the 8:30 P.M. Greyhound bus heading to New York at Berri UQAM, Montreal. When we arrived at the Canada – U, S, border at 10:04 p.m., everybody on the bus reported to the American Immigration Center. Immigration officer Moore signaled to me to come.
“Where are you going tonight?’
“New York, “ I said.
“For business or what?”
“To see a friend.”
Where do you live?”
“Where were you born?”
“Why are you smiling?” he asked.
“Do you know this is being videotaped?”
“Yes, I know.”
“So, this is not funny.”
He scanned my passport and asked:
“Have you always been living in Canada?”
“Yes, pretty much?”
“Do you live anywhere else?”
I lived in Nigeria for a while.”
“For how long?”
“For about 15 years or so.”
“That’s a significant amount of time. Do you have any other IDs?”
I gave him my Quebec driver’s license, my Canadian Association of Journalist’s membership card, my investigative Reporter and Editor’s membership card, and Washington D.C. Library of Congress membership card. He jumped up and walked swiftly to a computer at the other end of the room.
He asked immigration officer C.A. Racine to come over. As she got closer, he whispered something to her. Looking at my passport and other Ids, she asked.
Do you speak French?”
“If you were born in Montreal, how come you don’t speak French?”
“Well, I lived outside the province of Quebec for a while.”
“So did you (go to) school in Canada?”
“Yes, I did.”
Having ransacked my wallet, she took my mobile phone and went to join D.R. Moore.
“Why this?” I protested. “I passed through this same border two weeks ago when I sent to present a paper at MIT.”
“It does not matter the number of time you have entered in the past,” another officer answered.
They searched my bag and could not find anything incriminating. I was taken back to the bus, where the seat where I sat was thoroughly searched. Nothing was found. I presume that was the end of it. I was wrong.
The bus driver and the rest of the bus were told to continue their journey, while I was kept at the immigration center. An officer named J. Wilson took my fingerprints and mug shots. And at the back, Moore and Racine were giving out my passport number and driver’s license details over the phone.
Ninety fruitless minutes later, Moore announced to Wilson, Racine and the other two, “They don’t have any information on him.”
“What are you parents’ names and date of birth?” he asked me.
Back on the phone, he repeated my father’s name. Still nothing.
I’d had enough by this point. Since they had already seized my cellular phone, I demanded the use of a phone to call Immigration Canada or the Canadian Embassy in New York.
They denied the request ad told me to go and sit down.
“No, I am not going to sit down. I need to call my embassy now.”
Moore, Wilson and two armed officers pounced on me. They struggled to put me on the seat, but they could not overpower me. Emotions were running high; the memory of Ahmadou Duallo, who was shot 41 times by four New York police officers in 1999, flashed through my mind. I hadn’t been able to say a final good-bye to my family, so I allowed them to have their way.
After almost three hours I was informed I could not enter the U.S.
“You are not cooperating with us,” Racine said.
“Not cooperating with you?” I gave you all the information you requested…”
“Sorry sir, we can’t allow you to enter…”
“Well if that’s the case, can I have an official form to make a complaint about your act of unprofessionalism?”
“Sorry sir, we don’t have the forms here. Call them in New York.”
Editor’s note: Tokunbo Ojo is a Montreal based freelance writer of black ancestry. Posting under permission by Jim Duff, Editor-in-Chief, The Suburban, Quebec’s largest English Weekly Newspaper
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