Chinese-only sign reignites language debate in Richmond, B.C.
Corinne Ton That, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, April 23, 2014 9:13AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 23, 2014 1:25PM EDT
A Chinese-language advertisement at a bus shelter in Richmond, B.C. has reignited a debate over the language used on signs in the Vancouver suburb.
The ad, which can be seen from Steveston Highway, targets its message at the Chinese community in Richmond, where almost half the population speaks Cantonese.
“In a nutshell, it’s a good thing this bride used Crest because now her teeth are shiny white,” the ad says in its Chinese-language message. The company’s name is the only word that appears in English.
The toothpaste-maker said the ad is part of a Canada-wide ‘Oral Health Month’ campaign running throughout April, which includes ads in English, French and Chinese.
“We deeply value the rich diversity of Canadians and continuously strive to connect with all consumers in relevant ways,” Crest Canada spokesperson Victoria Maybee said in a statement to CTVNews.ca. “While the vast majority of our advertising remains in one or both of Canada's official languages, this unique ad was created to reach a new audience of diverse consumers."
But Richmond Councillor Chak Au says Chinese-only signs are disrespectful.
“They are not sensitive enough,” Au told CTV Vancouver, calling for signs in the area to be more “more inclusive and to be bilingual.”
Other Richmond residents agree. “I find it offensive, I’m a ninth-generation Canadian,” one woman told CTV Vancouver.
“How can I understand what they’re talking about or what they’re marketing,” said another.
Tensions over language have been building for many years in Richmond. Residents gathered more than 1,000 signatures on a petition last year, demanding that signs feature at least one of Canada’s official languages.
But Richmond city councillors rejected the call to crack down on businesses for using Chinese-only signs.
“I don’t think this problem will ever go away until we, as a community, have dealt with it by being more sensitive,” said Au.
With files from CTV Vancouver’s St. John Alexander