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Diversity in Canada

Los Angeles, Dec 05, 2023 Sanghera
Ramesh/ A.Gary Singh

Canada has been a model of intercultural harmony, inclusion, and diversity for others for almost fifty years. It was the first western country in the world to enshrine commitment to diversity within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982. In 1987, Canada passed the historic Multicultural Act. Since then, it has made diversity as one of the cornerstones of its policy. All along, Canada has considered diversity as its strength. Unfortunately, during the past few years, the conflicts around the globe have brought our policy of celebrating diversity under the microscope. Along with the First Nations, Canada was built by immigrants. Immigrants from all over the world have been welcomed to Canada with open arms. This country’s growing needs have prompted successive governments to steadily increase the number of immigrants. In addition to that, for the past few years, it has been welcoming hundreds of thousands of international students, temporary foreign workers, visitors, refugees, and others. Consequently, our population has just passed the 40 million mark.

                                Great strides in technology have turned our world into a global village. Any development, good or bad, has instant ramifications around the globe. It is very unfortunate that during the past few years, global conflicts have been rising steadily. The war in Ukraine, China’s growing influence in the world, the conflict in the Middle East, human rights abuses in many countries have also severely impacted Canadians. In many cases, these on-going conflicts imported from abroad have caused conflict between diaspora of those countries. This, in turn, has adversely impacted Canadian diversity, intercultural, interreligious harmony and relationships. For a long time, Canadians have considered this country’s diversity as its greatest strength. However, lately this diversity is beginning to look like a problem. Let us remember that immigrants have chosen to come to this country because of its multiple positive attributes. No body forced any one to come here. As such, every resident of Canada- be it a citizen, PR, student, refugee, temporary foreign worker or visitor has an obligation to respect its laws, traditions and values . We must embrace Canadian values of respect for different cultures, faiths, and orientations.

                                It has often been mentioned that Canadian laws are too lenient. Consequently, many unsavoury characters use/misuse them to their advantage. This may include recent arrivals as well as those who have been here for a long time. A lot of people use Canada as a place of convenience without any loyalty to the country.  It is very unfortunate that in some quarters Canada is considered as a haven for criminals and unsavoury characters. Thus, it is no wonder that some of the recent nationwide polling indicates that many Canadians consider our diversity as a cause for conflicts. Recent demonstrations and counter demonstrations in some of our cities support that view. Canada needs to be more proactive in dealing with people who cause disruptions and hinderance to our peaceful and inclusive way of life.

                                All of us must appreciate and support Canada’s policy of inclusion, mutual respect and harmony. We should focus more on Canada’s values , principles, freedom of speech, respect for democracy, as well as equality and respect for each other. Above all, we must learn to respect dissenting opinions and agree to disagree in a respectful manner. Our elected officials from local to provincial to federal levels have a major responsibility to ensure this. Furthermore, each one of us, regardless of our status in Canada, has a responsibility to ensure that we do our best in making Canada even a better place to live.

Balwant Sanghera 
(Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist)