Diversity & Discrimination: They Go Hand in Hand
Aden Bowman’s 2018 Multicultural Day was different from those in the past. This year’s compelling but bold difference was the school’s acknowledgement of diversity along with its equally relevant and yet-to-be-dealt-with counterpart: discrimination- specifically racism. I commend Bowman for this move, while recognizing that a single day is a mere step in the long walk ahead of us. Culture in a post-colonial society represents so much more than tradition: it symbolizes perseverance. Culture, which has been repressed through colonization, thrives despite assimilative forces.
This isn’t to say the warm and community-driven energy in the gym, everyone swelling with pride, excited to be exchanging cultures- can be denied, nor should be. It’s to say the smiles of the interracial faces plastered on diversity posters, are not ones that are necessarily worn with ease. Far too often, I see kids being ashamed of where they came from, where their parents came from. So with every “We are all Canadian” we preach, we must open our minds and turn our ears to immigrants, to people of colour, to Indigenous communities; it must be followed with a question: Do you feel Canadian? Because leaving the theatre after a beautiful dance program I still catch voices saying, “Canadian is just another word for white person”. Eurocentric entitlement to the title of Canadian stings with irony. So let’s get three things clear:
(1) ‘Canadian’ is a nationality. Everyone who lives here IS indeed Canadian.
(2) Learn the difference between nationality and ethnicity. For example, you may be Japanese-Canadian or German-Canadian. German and Japanese are your ethnicity in these cases, and Canadian is your nationality.
(3) In a debate on who makes up “real” Canadians, it would be First Nations People, not white people.
I think back to something said earlier in the week by a presenter at the Student Think Indigenous Conference at Nutana Collegiate: “In a colonized land none of us really have culture- instead there’s just a void.” To assimilate is to become one homogenous group of people, our differences washed away. Whether that will be for good is up to you. We live in an era of reclamation, as a result of our ancestors’ resilience. None of us came from nowhere, so I ask you to learn your personal history, your culture. Don’t accept a period as your past when pages of your people may exist.
You are where you came from, just as much as where you are going.
By: EMMA ZUCK