Canada Letter: A TIFF Film About Film and an Immigrant’s Story

Canada Letter: A TIFF Film About Film and an Immigrant’s Story
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The film brings the Canada Letter its second contest. We’re giving away 10 pairs of tickets to a Sept. 16 screening at TIFF. Just fill out the form here to enter the sweepstakes draw.

A postscript: At least one photographer has come up with an imperfect way to still develop Kodachrome. And this year, a Kodak executive said the company was looking at the possibility of reviving the film.

Read: For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas

Enter: Canada Letter’s “Kodachrome” Sweepstakes

An Outsider Takes Power

Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s immigration minister, has an apt background. Catherine Porter wrote an evocative profile of Mr. Hussen that fills in the details of his extraordinary life. Working on it, she told me, gave her an insight into how the immigrant community, and refugees in particular, view his appointment:

Photo

Ahmed Hussen, Canada’s immigration minister, with members of the Vietnamese community who were celebrating the sponsorship of newly landed refugees.

Credit
Ian Willms for The New York Times

When the rest of the world was closing its doors to refugees, particularly from Muslim countries, Canada appointed a Muslim refugee from Somalia as minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship. The parliamentary archives confirm that Mr. Hussen is the first refugee to ever hold the job.

But to many immigrants and refugees I spoke to, Mr. Hussen’s appointment felt much more personal than symbolic.

“As a first generation immigrant, you have the sense you somehow don’t deserve to be in power,” said Harminder Dhillon, the Mississauga lawyer whom Mr. Hussen worked for right out of law school. Mr. Dhillon immigrated to Canada from India in 1988. “The entire story of Ahmed, it gave me so much joy and such a sense of pride to be Canadian,” he said.

Mark Persaud similarly described feeling accepted in Canada, in a way he hadn’t before arriving here as a teenage refugee from Guyana, despite his own success as a lawyer.

“It provides recognition that immigrants and refugees are welcomed into the fold and not be sidelined to deal only with side issues, but important issues,” said Mr. Persaud, who helped set up the Canadian Somali Congress with Mr. Hussen. “It’s a coming of age.”

I returned to Mr. Hussen to ask about why he didn’t talk about his own story. At first, I wondered if it was a political decision: Did he not want to be pigeonholed as a refugee politician?

Three weeks after we first met, Mr. Hussen phoned me from Rome in a chatty mood. He’d been ruminating on the question and he added another explanation: “You know what I think it was? It felt like being a beggar. And in my culture, a beggar is the last thing you’d ever want to be.”

Read: In Canada, an Immigration Minister Who Himself Is a Refugee

A Canadian Witness

More on photography. Larry Towell was the first Canadian to become a member of the prestigious Magnum photo agency, a cooperative whose founders include Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson. For The Times’s Lens blog, James Estrin caught up with Mr. Towell in Perpignan, France. There the Visa Pour l’Image photojournalism festival is featuring an exhibition of Mr. Towell’s photos from the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.

Photo

Demonstrators opposed to the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline from a current exhibition of photos by the Canadian Larry Towell

Credit
Larry Towell/Magnum Photos

The protests were eventually broken up by police. But for Mr. Towell, that may actually have been a positive outcome for the indigenous protesters.

“By dispersing them, they also dispersed them back to the communities where they are now developing more efficient strategies to have a say over what happens on their land,” he told Mr. Estrin.

Read and View: Land, Loss and Rebirth in Standing Rock

Trans Canada

There’s a new artistic director at the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, and the reporter Tim Grode found that he’s already shaking up the repertory theater company, which had been struggling with declining ticket sales.

■ Round Two of the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement wrapped up this week in Mexico City. Progress was underwhelming.

■ Canada has been discreetly running a refuge program for gay men and lesbians from Chechnya.

■ The Times’s popular 36 Hours travel feature made a stop in Vancouver, British Columbia.



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