Embracing Diversity: Canadian Multiculturalism Day 2024

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It is no secret that Canada has a sordid past when it comes to both Indigenous groups and cultural minorities. Systemic racism still abounds in many arenas at the community, provincial and federal levels. Yet, according to the 2021 Canadian Census, more than 450 different ethnic or cultural origins were reported.  Looking back at other parts of the world, all 450 cultural groups seem to be getting along within our vast and varied borders. This could be partly because Canada was the first country in the world to adopt a multiculturalism policy. In fact, Section 3 (1) of the 1988 Canadian Multiculturalism Act indicates that the policy of the Government of Canada is to:

“recognize and promote the understanding that multiculturalism reflects the cultural and racial diversity of Canadian society and acknowledges the freedom of all members of Canadian society to preserve, enhance, and share their cultural heritage.

In plain language, this means we, as Canadians, aim to accommodate cultural and religious diversity and not discriminate against New Canadians or expect them to “assimilate into our cultural melting pot”. Regardless of skin colour, cultural heritage, and religious or philosophical beliefs, every member of the Canadian landscape deserves a safe haven where they can thrive and contribute to the Canadian economy. Embracing diversity does not simply mean non-discrimination but being socially responsible in accommodating and respecting differences.

Undoubtedly, Canada’s path to becoming a multicultural society is an ongoing and dynamic process. While significant strides have been made, challenges persist, and continuous efforts are needed to realize the principles of multiculturalism and inclusivity fully.  Celebrating multiculturalism while acknowledging and addressing Canada’s past and existing systemic racism requires a nuanced and proactive approach.  We need our government and decision-makers to recognize and openly acknowledge the historical injustices, including the mistreatment of Indigenous peoples and cultural minorities, as a critical step toward reconciliation. Furthermore, we need additional support to engage in truth and reconciliation efforts, such as those outlined in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations, to address the historical and ongoing impacts of colonization on Indigenous communities.

Here at Connect, we will continue to expect and demand that all levels of government advocate for and implement inclusive policies that address systemic racism and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in all aspects of society, including education, employment, and healthcare.  We will regularly evaluate and reflect on the effectiveness of initiatives to address systemic racism and promote multiculturalism, making necessary adjustments and improvements.

Celebrating multiculturalism is not about ignoring or glossing over the challenges but rather acknowledging them and actively working towards a more inclusive, equitable, and just society for all.

It requires a collective effort and ongoing commitment from individuals, communities, and institutions across Canada. It is also a day to honour the many cultural communities that help build a strong and vibrant Canadian society.  Multiculturalism Day is a chance to foster awareness and education about the histories, cultures, and contributions of Indigenous peoples and cultural minorities to counteract stereotypes and biases.  It is a day to encourage cross-cultural understanding and dialogue by organizing events, festivals, and community activities that celebrate diverse cultures and histories.  By celebrating multiculturalism, we acknowledge the value the intersections of various social identities, including gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation bring.  Celebrating multiculturalism fosters a sense of unity and solidarity among various cultural backgrounds. It promotes collaboration and understanding among humans, recognizing that common goals for equality can be achieved more effectively through diverse and inclusive efforts.

This year, on June 27th, let’s Embrace Diversity!