| Distributed by CroatianWorld
Building our mosaic
Recent immigrants to region boost minorities to 10% of population
Wednesday January 22, 2003
Immigration Since 1996
Jonah Fong is a recent immigrant to Canada from Taiwan. He has also lived in Germany.
WATERLOO REGION -- Jonah Fong is making our community a more colorful place.
The Taiwan native is among 14,305 people who have immigrated to Waterloo Region since 1996.
His arrival has helped boost the number of visible minorities who live here to a high of 10 per cent.
But the region remains a long way from the ethnic diversity of other communities, according to 2001 census findings released yesterday.
Visible minorities now make up 13 per cent of Canada's population and 19 per cent of Ontario's population -- the latter is almost twice the local rate.
Fong came to Canada in 2000 after living a few years in Germany, in part, seeking a more tolerant community for a mixed-race couple.
He is married to a German woman. They found they were not easily accepted as a couple in either of their native lands. Not so in Canada.
"The country is more tolerant to different cultures," says Fong.
Still, there have been headaches. "It's not easy. It's a struggle for immigrants," says Fong.
His struggles to improve his English have helped keep Fong from resuming his career as a physiotherapist, after his training in Taiwan.
Instead, he delivers newspapers and works as a personal trainer, while doggedly pursuing the Canadian licensing he needs to work again in health care.
His wife, Melanie, has found work in the insurance industry, but has yet to be persuaded that Canada is the best country for her.
They were surprised it was hard to find a family doctor. Fong remains irked that they are charged higher car insurance and could not immediately borrow money, because their foreign driving records and credit histories were discounted.
The couple has had to relocate twice to find pleasant, safe and affordable housing. But they have now purchased a new Cambridge townhouse that's bigger than they could have secured in overpopulated Taiwan.
And Fong says Canada has met his expectations of tolerance.
"I don't feel like I'm being treated differently here, which is really good," he says. "This is something I'm really happy about."
The census found that the region's largest visible minority group is 11,355 South Asians. Blacks are the next largest visible minority at 7,390, followed by Chinese (5,935) and Southeast Asians (5,530).
Eastern Europe has supplied the biggest bloc of immigrants since 1996, the census found.
Almost a third of all recent immigrants to the region -- 4,400 people -- hail from Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Romania, Poland orCroatia. China, India and Pakistan have supplied the next largest groups.
Germany, the country that helped populate much of the region, has sent only 285 immigrants since 1996, two per cent of the total.
The census found that 22 per cent of the region's population is foreign-born, virtually unchanged from 1991.
This is the fifth-highest percentage among 27 urban areas in Canada.
English, German, Scottish and Irish are the region's four largest ethnic origins, after Canadian.