Wednesday, 23 September 2015 07:03

Acceptance more important than assimilation

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Anyone who is on social media — whether it’s Twitter, Facebook or some other forum — will likely have seen what we feel is a disturbing trend these past few weeks.

Some posts, especially on Facebook, are being lauded, shared and re-posted without really thinking about the ramifications of doing so, or the message that is being sent.
There are two camps of thinking when it comes to the subject of immigration. The topic has been in the news as of late mainly because of the Syrian refugee crisis and the sheer number of people who are fleeing that country in the hopes of finding a better life elsewhere.
One camp on social media is calling on the government to do more to allow additional individuals refuge in Canada.
At the same time, is the camp of people who believe Canada already accepts too many immigrants. They take that opinion one step further by posting images or sayings that would suggest those who do come to this country should fully assimilate into the “Canadian culture.”
People need to stop and think about what they are posting on social media, before hitting the share or like button. If they themselves are not “immigrants” to Canada, then they likely have more than one person in their newsfeed who is. Let’s be honest about this great country — the majority of us likely are “immigrants.”
Even Canada’s first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald was an immigrant, having been born in Scotland and only coming to Canada as a child.
It was the First Nations people who first occupied this country.Rather than make us assimilate to their culture and ways — as the cry has been of late by some people about new immigrants — Europeans instead came and turned upside down the Native way of life.
If it wasn’t for immigration, Canada would be a stagnating, poor country.
According to the Employment and Social Development Canada website, between 2006 and 2011, about 1.2 million foreign-born people immigrated to Canada.
Prior to 1971, the majority of newcomers were from European countries. More recently, immigrants are more likely to come from elsewhere including Asia (56.9 per cent).
Let’s face it, Canadians just aren’t having babies like they used to, so if the country is to remain a vibrant, thriving nation, immigration plays a necessary role.
According to the federal government website, “The proportion of Canada’s population born outside the country rose to 20.6 per cent in 2011, the highest since 1931, when 22.2 per cent of the population was foreign-born (meaning that a person at one time was a landed immigrant to Canada).”
What is it to be “Canadian”?
There are more than 200 different ethnic orgins in this country. Every child is taught in school that Canada is a multi-cultural nation. One of the reasons why is because in 1971, Canada became the first country to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy.
According to the Government of Canada website, “By so doing, Canada affirmed the value and dignity of all Canadian citizens regardless of their racial or ethnic origins, their language, or their religious affiliation. The 1971 Multiculturalism Policy of Canada also confirmed the rights of Aboriginal peoples and the status of Canada’s two official languages.”
The belief newcomers to this great country need to “assimilate” to Canadian culture is wrong. One of the best parts about being Canadian is that citizens can be their own person, take pride in their heritage and still have a sense of belonging.
The federal government’s website boasts another plus about multiculturalism: “With no pressure to assimilate and give up their culture, immigrants freely choose their new citizenship because they want to be Canadians.”
We want to live in a country where each person’s heritage and culture are recognized and where every resident wants and chooses to be “Canadian.”
Rose Sanchez is assistant managing editor of the Prairie Post (and an immigrant to Canada). Contact her with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor