A term associated with dual and/or multiple expressions of identity alongside national identification, "hyphenated Canadian" identities are now an important part of our diverse ethnic landscape - and we owe it to the efforts of the very same individuals who regarded such multiple identities as a source of division.
Keeping relationships within a culture can be convenient, comfortable and maybe even somewhat expected of you -- but it also makes it easy to keep one's culture alive. Our parents had a clear blueprint for passing on their traditions, something the growing number of culturally mixed couples like us simply don't have.
It's been shocking to watch news of the Brexit vote in Britain, Donald Trump's promise to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. and the ongoing threats and violence against ethnic minorities in many parts of the world. I'm not a political or social scientist, but my training as a biologist gives me some insight. Within ecosystems, species diversity provides greater flexibility to adjust to disturbances. Around the planet, ecosystem diversity has enabled life to flourish under different conditions.
These days you don't hear a great deal of praise for the American melting pot. Perhaps it's because there is a growing realization amongst Americans that historically the melting pot was more virtual than real. A frank look at the evolution of the race relations across America's history throws the melting pot idea into question.
The yearning desire I had to visit could not be explained. But stepping foot onto West African soil started to make things clearer for me. Upon arriving, I was instantly overcome with the feeling that I was home. I had last visited Ghana as a child many years ago, but the people, the culture, the way of life, even the very smell, brought up feelings of nostalgia.
This past week, the Toronto Ward Museum initiated the "Dishing Up Toronto" program with three walking tours in Toronto and its suburbs. Immigrants served as guides and shared their stories and the stories of their neighbourhoods. Rather than use inanimate displays for their history lessons, the guides introduced audiences to their culture through visits to local hotspots and by sampling their favourite dishes.
On Canadian multiculturalism day the Prime Minister's multicultural message was bang on. Justin Trudeau declared that "Our roots reach out to every corner of the globe. We are from far and wide, and speak over 200 languages. Our national fabric is vibrant and varied, woven together by many cultures and heritages, and underlined by a core value of respect.
The sixth annual Indian Summer Festival is fast approaching, and arts and culture lovers all over our city are gearing up for what promises to be the most intellectually stimulating ten days of the year. Taking place from July 7th to 16th, the festival combines a range of events featuring thinkers, artists, and leaders from Canada, South Asia, and beyond into a program that promises to be enlightening, entertaining, and inclusive.
The growth in the visible minority population has seemingly changed the nature of the vertical mosaic and the portrait of inequality in Canada. The question that preoccupies researchers is whether the upward mobility experienced by most European origin groups can be replicated by non-European immigrants and their children.
I've wondered what to do about Canada's literary scene for some time. If you follow literary events closely, you'll see a lot of white faces on the lineups and in the promotions. In a multicultural country like Canada, that kind of oversight is a significant problem publishing professionals and festival organizers can't afford to ignore.
Visiting Canada on a European Parliament membership technicality with no federal or provincial parties willing to engage given her bigoted views (and possible stench of sulphur) has not prevented her from criticizing Canada's policies on immigration and multiculturalism. The terror attacks in Brussels have only added more ammunition to a sharp tongue already loaded with nationalist, nativist and jingoistic diatribe.
Multiculturalism, as a comprehensive communal doctrine, came to be the right answer for the nation of Canada to create its unique, coherent and inclusive society which guarantees equality, freedom, fairness and reverence to all its citizens. The various cultures, religious doctrines, social values and ethnicities merit equal respect.
Although the term multiculturalism has remained broadly popular, its application has been the object of ongoing controversy. At the center of the debate is the issue of whether identities are in inevitably in conflict. That, for example, individuals must choose between their ethnic attachments and their Canadian identity.
Instead of asking our parents to change, why don't we change the situation that caused our parents to change -- poverty? Poverty in Sri Lanka has left many children on the streets scavenging for food, or should we say crumbs. What if I told you for $20 you can buy change -- change in the form of a future.
I acknowledge that good, well-meaning people who genuinely care about Syrian refugees can have perfectly valid concerns about the security risk of bringing in tens of thousands of people from a war zone. It is as large an undertaking as it sounds. So, in light of Canadian political leaders playing on Canadians' concerns to spread fear and disinformation, I decided to research how Canada screens, accepts and settles Syrian refugees. It is my hope we can dispel fear and confusion with facts, reason and compassion.
What is most telling is that even given the divisive and downright xenophobic campaign the Conservatives have run thus far, they are still within striking distance to form government. This carefully crafted U.S.-style Republican narrative has set Canada on an extremely dangerous course, and one that only Canadian voters can steer back to the right path. From "old stock Canadians" deserving of greater government benefits, to the ridiculous niqab debate, to the absurd hotline dedicated to reporting "culturally barbaric" practices, the Conservatives are pulling no punches in their quest to mobilize their voter base.
There are a range of reasons people have asked me about my background and reasons I'm curious about yours. Maybe I've traveled to your country of heritage and would like to share my experience; I'd like to visit one day and would welcome your insights. We shouldn't have to pretend not to see skin colour, hear accents, or recognize features. No, we're not all the same -- but why is that the goal?
The Harper Conservatives have focused their time in power on dividing Canadians and creating fear for their own political benefit. We have seen countless examples of this from groups that have questions about criminal code legislation being called "soft on crime," to the use of terrorist propaganda to stoke fear when talking about political rivals (just look at the latest online Conservative attack ad against Liberal leader Justin Trudeau using material from jihadist propaganda), to the politicization of citizenship ceremonies and the meaning of citizenship as a whole.