Re: A personal ethnicity query.

Tom Byers (
30 Sep 1995 01:45:03 -0400

Regarding your message:

"I am repeatedly asked the question "What is your enthic
background?", and I do not know how to respond. I wonder if this is a
common problem for Canadian's of 4+ generation immigrants. This is a
great dilemma to me, because no one will allow me the concession that
I'm of Canadian Enthicicity."

Your situation can't be terribly uncommon, a mixture of German and English
great grandparents. My area of study is ethnic relations in Southeast
Asia. It is common to have hazy boundaries between ethnic groups there.
People often emphasize one or another ethnic affiliations depending on

My advice is not to let it be a dilemna unless some agency is excersizing
undo power over you. Like most of the rest of the world you have a choice
of ethnicities. You can even choose "Canadian" in spite of any idiotic
regulation against it. You can choose not to claim any ethnic
affiliation. No government has the right to restrict the way you describe
your ethnicity.

What happens when you try to choose the label "Canadian"? Have you had
submissions of paperwork rejected? If so, there is a real need to
complain to your elected representative. You could even take it to court
if you have the time, energy, and money. Easy for me to say. Good luck,
whatever course you choose.

Tom Byers