When Hector Diaz decided to study English in Canada, he thought he was doing everything right. The thirty-three-year-old from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, had heard of people immigrating to the United States illegally, but he was determined to follow the rules. He was finishing a master’s degree in marketing and administration, and he hoped immersive language training would widen his career options. Juárez is just a hop over the border from Texas, but Diaz wanted an English accent without a drawl—something neutral and easy to understand—so he chose Canada, and then narrowed in on Vancouver. He’d heard stories of the city’s natural beauty, mild weather and kind people.
As a freelance theatre critic, my work sometimes feels like a return to Girl Guide camp, with counsellor figures cautioning me about where I should and should not tread. In April, I wrote a review of the Vancouver premiere of the play Dead Metaphor by Governor General Award–winning playwright George F. Walker, and the warnings turned to klaxons.
Indian American actor and writer Dipti Mehta is determined to make her voice heard, even if it’s not always the voice people have in mind.
In March of last year, after a violent spring storm, Sheila Williams took her long-legged Afghan hound, Saffy, out for a walk on the Wild Pacific Trail near Ucluelet, on the southwestern tip of Vancouver Island. Off the trail, at the end of an unmarked path in an unnamed cove, they found a white and blue rubber house slipper with Asian characters. Williams wondered if it could have made its way from the tsunami-ravaged east coast of Japan, and headed to an Asian supermarket to ask for a translation.
The eviction notice came in the middle of a long winter, on one of those afternoons when M just couldn’t warm up, no matter how many sweaters and blankets she piled on her shoulders. When they’d first moved in, Rhonda, the upstairs neighbour and sole avatar of their faceless landlord, had turned the basement’s darkness into a selling point. “Cool all summer,” she’d said, her thin hand with its chorus of twinkling rings sliding along an imaginary ski slope.
Around the time the kittens started going missing, I noticed a surplus of abandoned clothing in the streets. But maybe I’m mashing the two events together. It’s absurd that someone might think t-shirts hung from branches were a reasonable trade for those soft little lives.