False multiculturalism

We’re living in a country of “false multiculturalism.”

Immigrants no longer come to Canada to be Canadians, they come because they can be whatever they want and live in
Canada. We live in a society of hyphenated identities. It is rare to get a reply to the question of, “what are you?” with the reply, “I am Canadian!”

We do not define ourselves by our citizenship, but by our pass nationality or culture. Italian-Canadian, Pakistani-Canadian, and Afro-Canadian are some examples of our hyphenated-Identities.

There are many immigrants who have been here for many years, but are unable to speak English or French, and it’s very common in east Scarborough. Working in retail I have seen parents use children as young as six as translators because they are unable to understand anything I say, or communicate so that I can serve them.

“You do not need to speak English to live in Toronto,” a Chinese customer told me one day as I spoke to him.

The customer said many people from China immigrate to Canada with their family and live in heavily populated Chinese communities such as Markham or the Steeles corridor. Because there are plenty of services and resources available in Chinese or Mandarin, there is no need to understand English to get by.

The issue of Afro-centric schools is just another symptom of our failing multiculturalism. It is hoped that by the isolation of one group it can foster a better environment for success than when integrated.

For those who support the new program, it is a way to inspire students to succeed, to give them a sense of pride about themselves, and their cultural/ethnic communities. Those who are against the program see it as a return to a time of racialsegregation and the start of a slippery slope.

If we segregate black students others may ask, “Why not segregate Muslim, Jewish, Sri Lankan and other groups of minority?” To go one step further, why not have one for white students, who in some communities are the minorities?

Canadian society is a diverse one, and having schools that are as diverse as the society we live in teaches students how to relate to others from various backgrounds.

The isolation of one’s culture and ethnicity is not limited to just schools, we also see it in people’s choices of where they live. Many groups have created ethnic enclaves where their cultures are isolated from all others due to sheer numbers.

The problem is not that people gravitate toward those who have similar beliefs and practices, but that they tend to completely turn their backs on others.

Many people come to Canada because they have the freedom to assimilate into Canadian society and still be Indian, Chinese, West Indian and so on. It seems the slogan “I am Canadian!” really should now end with a question mark.

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Posted: Feb 15 2008 12:00 pm
Filed under: Opinion