Now, I’m not a huge nationalist. I’m not a fan of the waving flag and blind patriotism. I mean, Canada is a darn good country, I must say, but at the same time, we are not perfect and too often that gets lost in a haze of red and white flags and national anthem singing. In order to move forward and continue improving, it isn’t useful to just say, “We are the best!” and leave it at that.
But, by the same token, Canada does do a lot of things right. One of those things is multiculturalism. Canada is often described as a mosaic while our neighbours to the south are described as a melting pot. I’m okay with the mosaic idea. I’m supportive of the idea of people coming to Canada from different countries and maintaining their culture and keeping true to their roots, while still being Canadian. I am of the belief that to “assimilate” as it were does not mean to toss out your past.
Now, the first time I was in Winnipeg for Canada Day, my family and I headed down to Assiniboine Park for the afternoon. As we wandered around, flagless, just enjoying the day, I was struck by how many “new” Canadians there were there, and how patriotic they were. There were flags, Canada T-shirts, hats, stickers, temporary tattoos, the works, and they were mostly on people who were clearly first or second generation Canadians. Wow. To me, that’s impressive.
Canada has become a refuge for people from around the world fleeing from war, injustice, poverty, political persecution, and instability. I truly believe that the vast majority of people are very grateful to have been accepted by Canada and given a place to live in relative peace and stability, just as my Ukrainian ancestors were. And, for the most part, I am of the opinion that people who come to Canada do adapt to a “Canadian” way of living, strive to learn the language (s), have a desire to be part of the community, and want to take advantage of all that Canada has to offer.
This is nothing new.
People have been coming here for generations now, whether it be Italians, Irish, British, Ukrainians, Chinese, French, Sri Lankan, Indian, Somalian, Filipino, or Jamaican, we have all come to Canada essentially for the same reasons and the same goals. Everyone wants a better life.
Unfortunately, a case such as Muhammad Shafia, who killed his female children out of “honour”, will grab the front page and make some Canadians scream out that multiculturalism doesn’t work. Well, honour killings really aren’t happening on a large scale in Canada. They are few and far between and that is part of why this case became so well known. But, the reality is, most people who come to Canada are not coming here to cause harm. They are coming to be part of the mosaic. They are coming to be part of Canada.
So, yes, there is something that we can look at and pat ourselves on our collective backs over. We are a multicultural country, and as far as I am concerned, it really does work for us, and has been working for us for a long time.