By Atlas Al
Vancouver is a special city for many reasons. One reason in particular is that it has one of the highest concentrations of Foreign Born populations in the world.
A common definition of Foreign Born (or non-native) is someone born outside of their country of residence. It can apply to immigrants or expatriates (usually, expatriates intend to return to their country of origin). Dubai is tremendously multi-ethnic because the majority of the population (a whopping 82%) is from abroad. Most of these foreign born people – most notably from India – will have to return to their native lands because it’s impossible for foreigners to apply for UAE citizenship.
Urban sociologists Lisa Benton-Short, Marie Price and Samantha Friedman wrote a paper entitled Global Perspective on the Connections between Immigrants and World Cities. In it, they developed the Immigrant Index that measures global human migration and immigrant concentrations around the world.
According to these researchers, one of the many variables that should be considered when determining global cities is its foreign born population. I, too, agree that a city’s Foreign Born population should carry some weight when configuring the rankings of global cities which may alter some of the current GaWC (Globalization and World Cities) rankings.
The chart below shows some of the data collected from the Immigrant Index:
|Rank||City||Country||Percent||Largest Source of Immigrants|
|1||Dubai||United Arab Emirates||82||India|
|6||Vancouver||Canada||39.02||People’s Republic of China|
To be considered a foreign flag, in my opinion, Vancouver’s Foreign Born population must have arrived in Canada before/after a certain age. Just because a person was born in a different country doesn’t mean they are that country’s flag. It depends how they think and act. Do they behave like Canadians or from the country they were born in? The younger the age of a foreign born person who moved to Canada, the more likely they will consider themselves to be Canadian no matter their physical characteristics. The older the age, the more they will identify with their country of origin.
Another variable to consider when determining flag status is accents. If they still have one, most likely they’re not a local. It doesn’t always work as a flag status indicator and some people are very good at smoothing out their accent, but it is something to take into consideration.
For example, my dad moved to the USA when he was in his mid-20s. He doesn’t like my jokes about how he’s now more American than French – even with his thick French accent – because he’s lived in the states longer than he lived in France. All jokes aside, he’s a French flag because he’s hard-wired as a Frenchman and he still maintains his French point of reference to the world even though he may have adopted some American attributes in thinking, mannerisms, and dress.
Flirt With Foreigners
A world event like the 2010 Winter Olympics – beginning tomorrow at the BC Place Stadium – combined with an already multi-ethnic population, will create a flagging “perfect storm.” Spectators, and locals alike, won’t be able to walk down the streets of Vancouver/Whistler without hearing a steady stream of accents, dialects, and distinct foreign languages.
This year’s games will have more than 80 participating nations with the USA, Canada, Russia, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, France, and Sweden entering more than 100 athletes each in various events. Because of the close proximity of the athletes’ living quarters, it’s safe to assume athletes from one country will fraternize with athletes and team officials from other countries, potentially hooking up and getting each other’s flags. With so many foreigners in Vancouver, Olympic athletes won’t be the only ones to have a chance to Flirt With Foreigners.
There’s nothing like spicing up an already global city with immigration and an event like the Olympics. I can’t imagine another metropolis outdoing Vancouver’s 2010 Winter Olympic Games to create such a fertile, flag-rich environment. Wait a sec… London is the Capital of the Flagging World. Summer Olympics 2012?
[Figures taken from Global Perspective on the Connections between Immigrants and World Cities by Benton-Short, Price, and Friedman.]