Guidelines for Gatineau immigrants raises eyebrows
Published Monday, December 5, 2011 4:38PM EST
A list of essential values given to immigrants moving to Gatineau is raising eyebrows for some of the things it suggests.
The city's "Essential Values" booklet lists 16 tips and covers basics like democracy, justice, gender equality and freedom.
The part that's surprising many includes instructions not to bribe, commit honour killings or cook smelly foods.
"I think it's silly, is inappropriate and quite frankly useless," said Ayman Al-Yassini of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. "There's no use for it."
The guidelines come as the province is going through its reasonable accommodation debate, struggling with how to best include immigrants into Quebec culture.
The section on respecting others involves avoiding odours, such as those from cigarette smoke or cooking.
"It sends a message of either conform to our expectations or don't come here," Al-Yassini said.
Critics said the tips treat immigrants like they're children and are interfering too much with their beliefs, but immigrants CTV Ottawa spoke with said they're not offended.
"I don't find it offensive because these are cultural classifications that every society makes," said David Lopez.
"Some food I usually eat in the Philippines, I know that it smells bad but it tastes good," said Maricel Guerrero. "For my husband it's really hard to take the smell."
An agency tasked with helping immigrants adjust to the Outaouais region said the booklet is meant to help the roughly ten per cent of Gatineau residents who are new Canadians.
"I don't see the original thought to be racist or offensive, it's more an informative booklet," said Carmelo Marchese with Accueil-Parrainage Outaouais.
Nobody from the City of Gatineau was available to talk on Monday.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Karen Soloman