The New Not Normal

 

I’m spending this month in a series of group counselling sessions for management people past forty who are “in career transition,” as the euphemism goes. In general, it’s been pretty helpful. I’m terrible at networking and cold calling so it’s helping me with that. They say 80% of jobs out there are not advertised so networking is how you get them.

But an interesting thing happened yesterday. We’re in the suburbs of Montreal and as a group, I’d say about 30% of us are immigrants. If I was in the city’s core, I imagine that percentage would be higher.

One participant made a comment, beginning with “When I came to this country…” and when he finished the moderator said (I’m paraphrasing because it was in French, mostly):

“OK, here’s a thing. On Friday, in the United States, they are going to inaugurate an IDIOT. Because of this, on both sides of the border, and I’ve lived in Boston and Montreal, there are bigots who think it’s now ok to discriminate against immigrants. You may want to focus on your experience and education and not your background. When you’re talking about your background to an employer, just say I have a PhD. Or, I worked for Coca-Cola. You don’t have to say my PhD is from Spain or I worked for Coke in Colombia. That can come later when they find out how really great you are.”

Now, this moderator was an older guy so maybe he was erring on the side of abundant caution but it surprised me that he suggested that. Last year, Canada welcomed 25,000 refugees and only the most conservative of our politicians suggest heavy restrictions on immigration. But perhaps he has good reasons for suggesting it. Canada is not immune to this kind of dog-whistle, anti-immigration rhetoric and some of our own politicians are taking a page out of Trump’s book.

It’s a frightening and sad thing to imagine something as banal as employment counselling can be poisoned by this new political atmosphere.

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2 thoughts on “The New Not Normal

  1. I’m not surprised at all, really. Only that someone said it out loud in a crowd.

    It IS like that here but most people outside of large cities keep a lid on it. (yes, I mean rural and less populated areas…)

    Someone a few years ago was in my presence complain about immigrants so I said “Like my father?” and he was quick to reassure me he didn’t mean people like ME. So I said “you mean we’re fine because we’re white then?”.

    He left soon after. 😀

  2. I notice people are getting explicit in their criticisms of immigrants and now there are good and bad groups. Good are Europeans and certain Asian countries they have written down on their hand and bad is everyone else. And, apparently, they think that’s a totally cool thing to voice in public and not be smacked down.

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