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Travelling across Canada in June was a revelation. I have done it so many times over the decades, yet this time I was struck with how clean the cities are, how opulent. I looked through the eyes of a stranger. I ran across a multitude of hyphenated Canadians (as in Indo-Canadian, Chinese Canadian, Guyanese Canadian etc) in Vancouver, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto and even Ottawa. I ran into them in the corridors of the hotels where I was staying, in the restaurants where I had my breakfast, in every cab, at every counter. There were few of them in the forums I facilitated, except for Toronto of course; the contrast between the streets and the conference rooms striking me as never before.

Since the subject of many of my workshops was Diversity, I made it a point to speak to my hyphenated counterparts about their impression of Canada, their quality of life, their hope for their children and their own future. They spoke willingly when I explained that I lived part of the year in South Asia. Their story hasn’t changed much in 20 years. Sacrifice of one generation for the next. All the parents proud of the degrees their offsprings are accumulating at their expense. Some of the younger ones were speaking loudly of their frustrations, and made a point of announcing their imminent departure. Will they leave? Many aspired to a better life in their old days, having given up on the present. Almost all were denouncing the empty promises of their adopted country. “Why bring in the best to have us work in menial jobs?!”. Good question.

Their children have not yet made it in large numbers past the doors of the organizations that hire me.