Since he immigrated to Canada almost three decades ago, Neil Bissoondath has consistently refused the role of the ethnic, and sought to avoid the burden of hyphenation – a burden that would label him as an East Indian-Trinidadian-Canadian living in Quebec. Bissoondath argues that the policy of multiculturalism, with its emphasis on the former or ancestral homeland and its insistence that There is more important than Here, discourages the full loyalty of Canada’s citizens.
Through the 1971 Multiculturalism Act, Canada has sought to order its population into a cultural mosaic of diversity and tolerance. Seeking to preserve the heritage of Canada’s many peoples, the policy nevertheless creates unease on many levels, transforming people into political tools and turning historical distinctions into stereotyped commodities. It encourages exoticism, highlighting the differences that divide Canadians rather than the similarities that unite them.
Selling Illusions is Neil Bissoondath’s personal exploration of a politically motivated public policy with profound private ramifications – a policy flawed from its inception but nonetheless implemented with unmatched zeal.