O Canada. O Dear Canada.
I have so much to thank you for. You opened your doors to my family when our homeland had rejected us. You were patient as we learned your culture, your rules, and your confusing government forms. You afforded us equal opportunities to engage in business, to further our education, to vote in democratic elections, and to pursue our ambitions. Most importantly, you let us celebrate our culture and express our worldviews openly and proudly.
In return for all that you have given us, please let me offer a small something to you: a small bit of advice. I am, after all, also afforded the right to contribute – am I not?
Your country is indeed diverse both in its geography and demography, but fear still exists. A dominant colonial heritage (itself the result of immigration) continues to permeate both the government and the public service. Diversity and multiculturalism have yet to step beyond the sharing of foods, the procession of traditional dances, and the implementation of secular policies aimed at encouraging tolerance and accommodation. Not enough.
Don’t be afraid, Canada. Don’t be afraid.
There is so much that we can learn from each other. Let us put our suspicions aside, cast away our prejudices, and abandon our fears. Let us be enriched by each other through the exchange of ideas, by visiting our foreign neighbors, by hearing the struggles of those who fought to land here.
Yes, we may come from war-torn, impoverished, or otherwise less privileged countries, but the images and sound bites you see on the news do not capture the complexity, the beauty, or the sophistication of our peoples – do not forget that most of us were building civilizations long before you were born. Our cultures are ancient. Our stews have been simmering for centuries.
O Canada. O Dear Canada.
We are not fools. We know how we can behave at times. Forced from our homes due to injustices beyond our control, we arrived gratefully at your doorstep. Many of us doctors, engineers, lawyers, professors, poets, artists, community activists, thinkers, writers, students, people…people…who would give anything to be home. Home.
Home is where we build on roots established by our ancestors; where we stem from a branch that has long existed, and that recognizes and appreciates our uniqueness and value; where we are supported and nurtured by many hands never worried about the future because we are grounded in our past.
Please don’t perceive us as pests imposing ourselves into your ordered lives, or like entitled children never appreciating the efforts of the Parent who labours day and night to create a home.
Your home. Our Home.