Monday, September 30, 2013

What a Mess O' Potamia!

My son wants to see the Mesopotamia exhibit at the ROM. I was planning to take him, and, by coincidence, there's a full page ad for the show in today's Toronto Star. That's how I learned for the first time that Mohammad Al Zaibak and Family is "Exhibit Patron" and the Canadian Arab Institute is its "Community Partner."
Who the heck is Mohammad Al Zaibak? Apparently he's a rich dude who sits on the ROM's board of trustees. He is also in charge of something called the Bay Tree Foundation, a private charity. In 2011 Bay Tree gave $12,000 to the National Council on Arab-Canadian Relations. That organization aims to
build ties between Canadians and the people of the Arab world in order to develop stronger relations and cooperation between them as well as an appreciation of their common values.
Values such as anti-Israel propaganda, a desire for Palestinian statehood and an unfounded fear of Islamic fundamentalism, apparently.

As for the Mesopotamia exhibit's "Patron," the Canadian Arab Institute, it bills itself as
a not-for-profit, non-partisan policy think tank committed to Canadian ideals of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. 
CAI was founded in 2011 by a steering committee of committed community leaders, academics, professionals and activists. CAI aims to generate new, original discourse that engages Canadian institutions and the public, helps improve understanding between communities, and articulates a Canadian Arab perspective on issues of interest.
Part of that, er, "perspective": the CAI is delighted to report that Arab immigration to Canada has hit a record high:
According to data CAI recently acquired from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, in 2010, Arab immigration to Canada reached an all-time high, with the arrival of 34,657 citizens of Arab countries[1], Arab immigrants represented 12.4% of the total immigration to Canada, second only to the Philippines (13.0%) and, for the first time, ahead of China and India (at 10.8% each), long the top two source countries of immigrants to Canada. In 2011[2], Arab immigration dropped slightly to 12.25% of total immigration, remaining in second place behind the Philippines.
Immigration data between 1960 and 2011 shows that more than half of Arab immigrants came to Canada in the 11 years between 2000 and 2011, and more than 75% came in the 20 years between 1991 and 2011. That this is such a new community which is steadily and rapidly growing has potentially profound policy connotations.
Such numbers  have significance to service providers (immigrant settlement, social services, etc.) and community organizations that seek to help integrate, represent and protect the interests of these groups.   They have implications to policy makers at various levels of government, agencies of government and civil society. 
No kidding.

I will probably take my son to see the Mesopotamia show. That doesn't mean, however, that I have to be thrilled about some of the folks associated with it.

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