We have nothing to fear regarding multiculturalism

In his letter damning Canada’s concept of multiculturalism, Don Munro wrote that many other cultures practise “stupid traditions, persecutions, radical religions and unstable politics.”

Re: letter to the editor: Let’s dump multiculturalism, April 9.

In his letter damning Canada’s concept of multiculturalism, Don Munro wrote that many other cultures practise “stupid traditions, persecutions, radical religions and unstable politics.” He maintains that citizens with diverse backgrounds should celebrate their ethnicity in the birthplace of that culture and not in Canada.

Contradictorily, you allow that some cultures like “Ukrainians, Scottish, Germans, etc,” have traditions that would be just fine to celebrate right here in Canada. Hmmm . . . you seem to be quite an ethnocentric and intolerant fellow, Mr. Munro. I wonder if your remarks are based mainly in ignorance or in fear.

You give the impression that you are proud of Canada’s policies of equality, respect and fairness but do not appear to think you need to actually practise them.

Frankly, I love the diversity of Canada’s citizens, just as I love the diversity of the Canadian landscape. I feel blessed to live in a country that understands and respects all people’s differences and protects their rights no matter who they are or what cultural group they fit into.

Intolerance, such as you are suggesting, breeds oppression and marginalization. All we have to do is open a couple of history books to see the consequences of these acts.

Do I need to remind you about Canada’s history of intolerance and oppression? I’m sure our First Nations citizens have not forgotten. I cannot see how being exposed to another culture will make me less Canadian, in fact, I think it makes me more so. In Canada, I have celebrated a Cambodian New Year, enjoyed numerous First Nation dances, opened presents on Ukrainian Christmas, and attended many other festivities that were born in countries my ancestors were not.

While I love hockey and camping, these activities don’t make me Canadian. Loving my country and its citizens make me Canadian.

By experiencing what other cultures offer, I feel more knowledgeable, understanding and less fearful. What does make me afraid — and dare I speculate, may be Munro’s main concern — is when prejudice, power struggles and divergence from world human rights make the journey to Canada.

Since we have had these problems since day one, I cannot see how relinquishing another’s cultural traditions will alleviate them. It hasn’t yet, anywhere.

Canada is unique in the world with our multicultural approach and has become a model to the world in our policies and practices. We have even received a Nansen Medal from the United Nations for our country’s work, the first time an entire nation has been given this recognition.

We should be proud of what we have accomplished so far. We have taken a proactive and unparalleled approach in an increasingly diverse landscape and created stable social and political systems that we are envied for.

Diversity is a reality in Canada. It has been since its creation. By understanding it, we won’t be afraid of it.

Patricia Helmer-Desjarlais


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