OPINION: Asian fishermen in Ontario still unfairly maligned

By: Jimmy Kakish

Canada’s almost always been considered a relatively safe place for minorities. Toronto is even often referred to as “the most multicultural city in the world.”

While that may be true, everything seems to change once you get to one of the country’s many tributaries. Fishermen of all kinds visit them frequently in hopes of angling salmon, brook and rainbow trout. But one group of anglers stands out–or blends in (which may be part of the problem).

These are the guys with the big lifted trucks. The Simms chest waders. The ones who end almost everything with “bawd” (as in Bud). The ones who are overly comfortable using Asian slurs like “gook” or “Nip”. They are the tried and true Canadian fishermen.

Not only are these words accepted by many on the river, they’re welcomed. It wouldn’t be a day of fishing where I go for sport around Port Hope and other locations 90 minutes from Toronto without hearing how “the Nips overfished this river and now we can’t catch any” or “those Chinks keep everything.”

Yeah. It’s the Asian angler–who has every right to be fishing there–that’s making you not catch fish. Not because you don’t know how to fish and couldn’t catch crap in a diaper.

For some reason, Asian-Canadians have been on the butt-end of racial trash-talk and attacks for as long as I can remember. Let’s not forget the racially-driven attack carried out in 2007 by some Canadian good ol’ boys near Sutton, Ont.

Trevor Middleton drove a group of teenage anglers off of the road after a 2 km midnight chase through winding, narrow lakefront roads in Westport, Ont.

Two people were ejected from the vehicle, including Shayne Berwick, who was left permanently injured from the incident.

Attacks like this plagued southern and central Ontario all summer and fall of 2007. In one of these events, a 13 year-old was even thrown into the water.

However, illegal fishing is a problem. Some of Westport’s fish sanctuaries –which are illegal to fish in–have been nearly fished out by midnight anglers.

Raymond Zee, the head of the Ontario Chinese Anglers Association told the Globe and Mail that some Asian people aren’t respecting fishing laws.

Locals are often frustrated because fishing laws are often not enforced. By the time the Ministry of Natural Resources shows up, they offenders are gone.

Oftentimes, some of the poachers do this in ignorance and without malice. They normally don’t need a license back home and there are only few fishing regulations set in place, which leads them to believe it’s okay to fish that way in Canada.

The key to solving these problems, though, is not prosecution.

It’s education and fishing law enforcement. We need more conservation officers regularly patrolling rivers. We need info on Ontario fishing regulations to be readily available to everybody in languages other than English. We need open discussions about these things.

Fishermen don’t want to voice these things for fear of sounding racist. Some Asian parents are afraid to take their children fishing. Both of these things shouldn’t be happening.

Fish were put on earth for everybody, not just for hicks in big trucks. A fish caught in Canada yields the same joy as a fish caught in Asia.

Stop being greedy and don’t be a clown. If the rules are followed, everything will be just fine.

Related posts

Leave a Comment