Is Collacott correct? It’s a timely question, not only for Canadians to consider, but also for Coquitlam residents to ponder as we continue to welcome new immigrants into our community on a regular basis and, more notably, also await the arrival of Syrian refugees in the coming months.
|Results from "I love Canada because..." mural.|
Canada’s diverse composition may, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently said, be “our strength,” but Collacott answers that diversity is not an unqualified good, in and of itself.
Looking at the question from a common-sense point of view, Collacott makes a good point. Consider the question this way: We may say that “variety is the spice of life,” but there are limits to the sort of variety sane persons will subject themselves to.
Whether it’s in our choice of what we wear (comfortable and warm in winter, not irritating and cold) or what we eat (nutritious and delicious, not poisonous and disgusting), we have boundaries.
Similarly, while we may say that we embrace diversity, most of us would not want to live in a truly diverse community filled with, for example, unrepentant members of Pol Pot’s murderous Cambodian regime from the second half 1970s. Or, of course, with unrepentant members of ISIS. (And, for the most comprehensive look at what ISIS is all about, please click here to see a story from The Atlantic magazine.)
When diversity works in Canada it is not because of the simple fact that the country accepts diversity, and neither is it because of the celebration of diversity; rather, it is because of the fact the new Canadians reciprocate with a commitment to fit into Canada. It’s called integration, and it’s a vital and too-often unacknowledged part of the Canadian success story.
|Coquitlam Canada Day activities.|
Consider, for example, the committee’s successful 2015 Canada Day display which was the subject of a report to council-in-committee on November 23. The display went beyond the usual “tell us where you are from” interactive display and, instead, asked participants to write a message on an “I Love Canada Because…” mural.
For the record, six top themes emerged – natural environment, people, values and culture, safety, family, and general satisfaction with the country. City staff also presented a word cloud, shown at the top of this blog, to illustrate the predominant themes. You can read the full staff report by clicking here.
The real import of the mural is not so much in the answers it found, but in the question it asked: Why do you love Canada? The question springs from an implicit understanding that diversity is a two-way street, that “We’ll accept you, but you have to buy into what Canada is all about, too.”
This represents a real and important maturation in the development of multiculturalism in our country. It’s not just about celebration of diversity. And it’s not even abut embracing the more advanced concept of “inter-culturalism,” which encourages cross-cultural understanding.
Rather, it is about identifying and celebrating those values that we hold in common—the values that are not signs of our diversity but of our unity. And that’s a good thing.