Field Reports of Toronto 2015: the Kensington Market Research Group
We went to Toronto from April 29th to May 10th in 2015 to learn about Multiculturalism in Canada. As a result we had a clearer understanding of how the Canadian multicultural policy functions in Canada, and we discovered that respect for people from different ethnic backgrounds underpins Canadian society.
The Respect students were organized into different groups to be responsible for making a presentation on the results of the fieldwork. Our group was the Kensington Market Research Group. The members included Kim Soie [Graduate School of Language and Culture], Lisa Nishiyama [Osaka School of International Public Policy], Ryohei Miyamae [Graduate School of Human Sciences], Miku Ogawa [ditto] and myself (Xie Zhen [Graduate School of Law and Politics]). We made a successful presentation entitled, “A comparison between Kensington Market, Toronto and Toyokawa, Osaka in understanding Kyosei”.
Here is a brief summary of the contents of our presentation:
Episode 1: Kensington Market
I saw many kinds of people and various aspects in Kensington Market. Here I want to introduce just one of them.
I met a Korean woman who sells vitamins and cosmetics in her own store. She came to Canada 20 years ago and first started a small corner store. Fortunately her store was successful and she earned much money and expanded her business. She opened another store near the first one and began to sell more things other than food, such as vitamins, cosmetics and so on. I heard that it was not easy to begin this kind of business because a large amount of funding was necessary. This is one case in which a migrant became successful in Kensington Market.
This case is a successful example and involves a middle class person. But not all the people in Kensington market are successful. There are some people hidden behind the surface, becoming victims of recent gentrification and urban development. I felt it was very important for the citizens of Toronto to pay attention to those who are suffering from poverty, abuse or other factors and the trip to Kensington Market underlined that importance for me.
The origin of Kensington market is a marketplace that was founded by Jewish immigrants about 100 years ago. As time passed and immigrants from different parts of the world started opening stores in Kensington market, it became representative of multiculturalism.
Although composed of various ethnic layers, gentrification by the government and activities by community groups against gentrification to protect the liberal and artistic uniqueness of Kensington market have led to a widening income gap within the area and marginalized some of the low-income working class people and those who have difficulty blending into society. Community activities are being carried out to help them, but it could be said that Kensington market reflects both the pros and cons of strong community ties and multiculturalism which primarily focuses on ethnic and cultural diversity.
Episode 2: Toyokawa
Toyokawa is a small town located in Ibaraki city, Osaka. It has suffered from the existence of social segregation. In response, the people living in Toyokawa have set a high value on a broad-minded education. Therefore they have become a “vulnerability-friendly” area. As a result, there are intercultural facilities such as the Korean International School and Osaka Ibaraki Mosque which is the first mosque in Osaka. Toyokawa is seen as a town co-existing with many cultures.
We have been participating in a community development project in Toyokawa, Osaka since March, 2015. In this project we are carrying out two sub-projects. One is the organization of public seminars for Toyokawa citizens. In the other sub-project, we have been building a community garden that will be open to everyone who lives in Toyokawa. The purpose of our project is to strengthen social ties through active participation in community development.
When I compare the two cases in Kensington market and Toyokawa in terms of community development, I encounter 3 aspects. Firstly, the original challenges, which each community had, are different. While Kensington market has cultural diversity and has developed over the years as a result of capitalism which has caused economic inequality, Toyokawa is a place which originally had inequality issues based on the social and economic gaps. However, accepting cultural or religious diversity is now a new challenge in Toyokawa. Secondly, in Kensington market, there is active participation by the residents for community development through civil society groups. On the other hand, in Toyokawa, the connection between residents is not so strong and they need to create a place where residents can interact and know each other. Thirdly, there is a different attitude toward diversity. Kensington market exploits multiculture for community development. The diversity among them is an attractive part of the market. However, Toyokawa doesn’t actively address the presence of diversity. It recognizes that there are differences within the community but does not act upon them.
The attitude toward diversity in Toyokawa is close to the concept of Kyosei. We think Kyosei is not the result of community development but just a situation. Kyosei describes the on-going process in which we respect our own diversity.
In conclusion, when you come to Toronto, you can understand how different multiculturalism is in Canada to Kyosei in Japan. These two countries deal with members of society and minority groups differently. They also have different immigration policies. There are good points and bad points in each but through our differences we can learn from each other and recognize the work that still has to be done. Furthermore, our experience of cross-cultural exchange in Canada has helped us to deepen our own understanding of the concept of Kyosei.