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July 2003 - Nr. 7
Sybille Forster-Rentmeister2000


Dear Reader

Sunday, the 29th of June, we noticed that the city, Toronto, was very quiet, at least uptown, were we live. Were did all the people go? Of course, most people went out to the cottage or elsewhere into the countryside to enjoy our much anticipated summer.

We visited Unionville with its charming old buildings that house lovely restaurants and shops. A visit to the Austrian oriented Old Country Inn proved to be delightful with perfect service, perfect ambience and perfectly cooked steaks (Wiener Rostbraten).

Yes, there was the annual Pride Parade, but unless people had a personal interest in the subject, all the folks we spoke to chose to ignore that happening, especially this year, when the "Rainbow Community" can celebrate the inclusion of same sex marriage as legally allowed.

We are quite sure that some time somewhere in this universe there were guys that made other guys some perfectly wonderful wives, and that somewhere some women made some other women perfectly wonderful husbands. I am also sure that at any of those times there was controversy attached to the subject and such actions were frowned upon by some people, just as it is now. Various religious convictions do not allow people to condone such choices, but at the same time, they are also not condemned, at least not any more.

Thus we have reached in this country the time of true equality between all people, regardless of sexual orientation, well, almost.

Criminals are certainly often more equal than other citizens, have more rights, are being more mollycoddled than "regular" folks. And of course the colour issue is still an unresolved subject. So is the ethnic background of some folks. One can be of the "right colour", but from the wrong side of the railroad tracks, the wrong side of the ravine, the wrong side of the desert, the wrong side of the valley, the wrong side of a particular person, the wrong side of a philosophy or conviction; and that will automatically constitute trouble.

Ah, well, this is what keeps lawyers working, civil servants showing up for work, politicians promising and voters hoping and believing.

Ah yes, ethnic backgrounds and cultural persuasions: we just had another Caravan festivity in the city. Once upon a time there were over 60 pavilions. That was in the late 1970ies and early 80ies, and the German Pavilion Berlin on Sherbourne Street won awards. Yours truly was a heavy player at the time. It was also the time when I first started to write for the Deutsche Presse, only to move from there - after 2 years- to the Kanada Kurier for 6 more years. I paid my dues and then started, by popular request and after much surveying, Echo Germanica.

I did not think that we would be a viable community for more than another 10 years; and I guess I was not too far off in some respect. We are almost just as many people of German cultural background now, but the interests have shifted, we are even more integrated. And that makes Echo Germanica even more important than ever before.

Now younger generations are starting to take an interest in the community, but prefer to do it in English, as Canadians with a European background. Hallelujah!

This effort deserves to be rewarded and supported. Our younger generations are firmly entrenched in the Canadian way of life, no longer willing to look over their shoulders for things that happened in the past, and they certainly should not have to orient their future by a distant past, a past that is alien to them. They live here and now, in a global village, where differences between people are not noticed as much as they were in the past. Perhaps that is why the first national Day of Multiculturalism went unnoticed. This vehicle, likely created for upcoming elections as a platform, is a reinvention of something anchored in our Charter of Freedom and Rights for several decades already. And suddenly we need a national day of recognition for this?

It always worries me that such days are being proclaimed, because this signifies either that there was a lack of recognition in the past, or there is going to be such a lack that something needs preserving; in any event, it indicates always something amiss.

So while we celebrate our various birthdays, like the Nation’s and those of communities such as Brampton, we need to realize that we still have a very long way to go towards true equality of all contributing members of mankind. (Oops, politically incorrect, cannot be womankind either, but perhaps the word humanity will suffice). Perhaps one day it will be totally safe in this town, this country, to have a German accent. Perhaps we will even see people with a German accent on TV without them being asked to supply a ridiculing version of it. (I could tell you stories about that from my own showbiz days, and by the way, I always refused to sell wunnnderrrfulll sawsagez).

Eva Graffunder and daughter, Hannelore SteinmetzPerhaps one day we will not report tongue in cheek about things that can be prosecuted easily because someone does not like our point of view, perhaps one day all the weirdness of our behaviour will have evaporated into something wonderful and normal and acceptable and fitting for the survival of all. Perhaps then, when we look back at our long lives, like Eva Graffunder when she recently celebrated her 100th birthday, perhaps then we will not have any tales to tell of war and famines and terrorism and other manmade hardships.

Wouldn’t that be something?

  • Happy Birthday Canada!

  • Happy Birthday Brampton!

  • Happy Birthday Eva Graffunder!

Sybille Forster-Rentmeister

P.S.: Are you coming with us on our boat trip in August?





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As the editor of Echo Germanica Sybille reflects on cultural, artistic, political and daily events within the German-Canadian landscape.
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Sybille Forster-Rentmeister, editor, editor-in-chief of Echo Germanica, comments, cultural, artistic, political, daily events, German-Canadian, Toronto, Ontario, Canada,

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