Who gets to be a part of Canadian history, asks Arab-Canadian writer
Christine Estima wonders if immigrants are getting the credit they deserve for their contributions to Canada
Writer Christine Estima felt her blood boil when Coach's Corner co-host Don Cherry complained that he thought immigrants don't wear poppies on Remembrance Day.
"You people ... you come here, you love our way of life. You love our milk and honey. At least you could pay for a poppy," said Cherry, on the Nov. 9, 2019 edition of Coach's Corner, a hockey commentary segment of Hockey Night in Canada.
The implication, as she understood it, was that non-white Canadians aren't conisdered a part of Canadian history, and aren't invested in it.
"He didn't have to clarify what he meant by 'You people,'" said Estima. "I've heard that racist dog whistle my entire life."
The comments hit especially hard because her grandfather, a Syrian, fought for Canada in the Second World War, suffering hearing loss and living with shrapnel embedded in his body and post-traumatic stress disorder. Estima felt like Cherry was treating her family as newcomers, when she could trace her family back at least a century in Montreal.
After she voiced her objections on Twitter, Estima was interviewed by journalists, some of which Estima thought, sounded surprised that such a history was even possible.
These conversations prompted her to take a deeper look into her family's life in Canada for an article in Maisonneuve, called "Living Legacy." What she found in her search made her wonder how the contributions of Arab immigrants have escaped Canadians' attention.