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Canada Celebrates A Unity In Diversity And A Diversity In Unity In Our 150 Year Anniversary

By Zile Singh, IFS

Ambassador(Retd.)

Canada Day,  also called the Canadian National Day, is celebrated on July 1 every year. Its old name was ‘Dominion  Day’, which was renamed as Canada Day in 1947.  It is the anniversary of Constitutional Act, 1867 that joins New Brunswick and Nova Scotia into single country.  July 1 is a national holiday in Canada.  Other significant events and breakthroughs on this day were: National Railway of Canada launched 1st national radio setup in 1927; the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation carried out its first broadcast throughout Canada in 1958;  the first telecast in colour was held in 1966; national anthem was also decided in 1980. Canada Day is celebrated with fireworks, concerts,  BBQ, sports, cultural events,  parades etc. in different parts of Canada.

The  Day is celebrated in Vancouver also in a very special manner.  Vancouver’s original name was ‘ Granville’.  In 1886 it was renamed to Vancouver for honouring George Vancouver, an English navigator.  Some other salient features of this city are: fourth biggest cruise ship port of the world,  third most livable region in the world because of its high quality of environment and climate, its Stanley Park is larger than New York’s central park and its aquarium is famous worldwide.

While celebrating the Day, among other things, the ‘Multiculturalism’, the ‘Unity in Diversity’ and ‘Diversity in Unity’ aspects of Canada naturally come to mind.  Canada is in real sense a multicultural country as it ensures that all citizens can keep their identities and take pride in their ancestry.  As more and more immigrants come to Canada searching for a better life, the society naturally becomes more multicultural and diverse.  At the same time the government is committed to a policy to achieve  quality of all in economic, social, cultural and political life.  Multiculturalism can lead to many great outcomes, including racial and ethnic harmony, which simply means that people from different cultures get along well together.  Canada takes the concept of multiculturalism a step further with the importance it places on individual freedom.

Diversity is Canada’s strength.  In one of his addresses, Prime Minister  Justin Trudeau said, “ Canada has learned how to be strong not in spite of our differences, but because of them, and going forward, that capacity will be at the heart of both our success and of what we offer the world.  Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is not about Canadians being nice and polite – though of course we are.  In fact, this commitment is a powerful and ambitious approach to making Canada and the world a better and safer place.”

One-fifth of Canadians were born elsewhere.  In Toronto, the largest city, more than half were born outside Canada. The country has shown that inclusive diversity is a strength that can vanquish intolerance, radicalism and hate.  Canadian policy refuses to see a contradiction between individual liberty and collective identity.  On the contrary, it has created a society where both thrive and mutually reinforce one another.  Here the cooperation and understanding among various religions and communities is exemplary. In times of adversity, all come together.

It is not that Canada has not committed mistakes in the past on account of ethnic and racial grounds, but it has recognized, accepted and rectified those wrongs by The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, The Multiculturalism Act, The Official Languages Act and welcoming Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists to practice their religion as they choose.  Refugees from politically ravaged countries are welcome into Canada with open arms.

Canada is a perfect place as far as ‘unity in diversity’ is concerned.  Despite its multicultural and multi-religious society, every individual is free from any form of discrimination and will have guaranteed equality under the law.  Canadian Bill of Rights of August 1960 was a bold step in the protection of human rights.  However, experiencing some flaws in the Bill of Rights, it was replaced by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982.  In addition to defending the individual rights, the Charter aspires to promote national values as a counterbalance to regional and sectional loyalties. While introducing the Charter, the 15th Prime Minister of Canada, Pierre Elliot Trudeau said, “We must now establish the basic principles, the basic values and beliefs which hold us together as Canadians so that beyond our regional loyalties there is a way of life and system of values which make us proud of the country that has given us freedom and such immeasurable joy.”

The Republic of India is an example of ‘Unity in Diversity’ in the world where people belonging to different religions, castes and creeds, speaking different languages, having different cultures, different modes of living, different clothing, different feeding habits, worshiping different gods and deities live together in harmony and believe to be

children of one mother -MOTHER INDIA.  Interestingly, Canada equals India in most of the above mentioned aspects.  But in some, it excels India when it comes to action at the individual level.

Someone has rightly said that “The beauty of the world lies in the diversity of its people.” In fact, appreciating diversity is important to our very existence. “There is a Law that man should love his neighbour as himself.  In a few hundred years it should be as natural to mankind as breathing or the upright gait; but if he does not learn it he must perish.”

Zile Singh is a former Ambassador(Retd.) of India and a Vipassana Meditator. He can be reached at zsnirwal@yahoo.ca .

 

 

 

 

 

 

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