The wind beats against a high telecom tower in Quebec. The camera finds a man on top of the tower, hard hat, safety glasses on. Several hundred feet or perhaps a thousand feet down, one catches a glimpse of forests and rivers snaking away, a small town in a bay in the distance, as when you see them from an aeroplane. Prosperous and orderly. The man is Asian and he has a smile on his face. The sound of subway trains are heard already and we find ourselves in the belly of the earth in Vancouver.
Latin American workers in 2006, hired temporarily, ploughing through the underground to set up the tube rail. I emphasize this is 2006. Not 1880s or before when mostly Chinese and some Indian workers were brought in to make the rail lines across Canada. These pictures are in colour. The workers wear luminescent safety gear and equipment. They are not the “coolies” we have seen, in sandals, with pick axes, in diffused black and white pictures from the past. But, the workers in the coloured pictures make $3:50 per hour, a balding, kind faced Union organizer informs us with great sadness. He goes on to say “These people are all gone. This tube line will be around for at least one hundred years. But these nameless people are gone.” He continues: “Our view of Canada is that we are a multicultural country. We do not exploit workers. We are shocked. This cannot be like what happened 140 years ago, when we brought in coolies, slaves!”
Well, welcome to the new Canada!