Sunday, November 26, 2006

Cultural Mosaic

Canada has opened its doors to immigrants from many countries over the past century. The Europeans who came here after the world wars have blended in with other white races that arrived centuries earlier. Each new group has had challenges fitting into the cultural mosaic. During the Second World War, Japanese Canadians were interred in camps, and action that our government has now apologized for. In the 1960’s, I remember the Italians and Polish immigrants in Toronto being called “wops” and “pollocks” in a derogatory fashion. Over the past 30 years or so, there has been a large influx of Asian people, from India, Pakistan, Vietnam, China, and more recently, the Philippine Islands. The majority of these new Canadians are hard working, ambitious contributors to society, many of them anxious to carve out a better life for their children, often with great personal sacrifice. I admire their sense of family and community. We seldom see their elderly in our nursing homes, as the extended family usually supports the aging members.
Racial profiling and stereotyping has become more common since 9/11. The war in Iraq and actions of radical Moslem groups around the world has made some suspicious of people who may look different than “us”. I am fortunate to work with many wonderful people from many cultures. Several of the office staff at my community workplace are Filipinos. They are the most polite, gracious and hard-working people I have ever met. The photo show one of the doctors at the hospital, a lovely, devout and compassionate Indian lady. She comes from a large Roman Catholic family and several of her siblings in India have taken vows in the church.
Today, one of my friends from the hospital had a group of us over to her home for brunch. She and her family are progressive Moslems of Indian descent who immigrated to Canada as children from East Africa. Her husband cooked us a delicious meal including samosas and fragrant biryani chicken. They were congenial hosts and we all had a wonderful afternoon.
I do not have to travel outside of my city to interact with people from around the world. My family was once new to this land and I am glad to welcome others who want to join in making Canada a great place to live.

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