Ethnic Media: Gateway to Canada

“When it comes to audiences, people pay attention to media who pay attention to them,” says Minelle Mahtani, Associate Professor of Geography and Journalism at the University of Toronto and President of the Association of Canadian Studies. “Given mainstream media's long-standing pattern of misrepresenting and under-representing immigrants, it should come as no surprise that ethnic media is attractive to newcomers who appreciate their attention to accurate reporting on their community.”

You may have already discovered that ethnic media can be the focal point (the heart or centre) of your community. Often these media are distributed where members of your community gather, such as a restaurant, your place of worship or local grocery store. When you need important information or have a question, you may even be able to contact these organizations directly – in your language of comfort – and get the answer.

To present a selection of views on how newcomers may benefit from Canadian ethnic media, I invited comments from across the country. Renato Zane, Vice President & General Manager of OMNI BC, offered a most comprehensive list:

“Any medium that can interpret life in Canada in the same language of a person who has recently arrived to this country provides a valuable service. Newspapers and websites provide news in the immigrants' mother tongues (first languages), and this is critically important in the early settlement phase for any new immigrant. These media also link new arrivals to the larger immigrant community already here through the sharing of information about social and cultural events and through the advertisements for goods and services.

“Radio stations provide live programming and music, allowing newcomers to receive important information and also to connect emotionally with artistic recordings, to feel ‘at home’ as they are adjusting to their new home. Television has the ability to do all of the above through targeted programs… enhanced by the addition of video, of images of the community in Canada.”

Not only do Canadian ethnic media provide you with a link to your community as outlined above, they benefit you and the country by helping you learn about life in Canada and what it means to be a Canadian Citizen -- something to think about on your next visit to your favourite medium.

If you think Canadian media should be doing a better job of reflecting and/or reporting your community, there are ways to change that simply raising by your voice. Go here to find out how.