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Canadian Mosaic-A Flower Garden

Surrey, Vancouver, Jan 10, 2009
Balwant Sanghera
President, Punjabi Language Education Association

Canadas model of multiculturalism is a great credit to this country. This nation of 34 millions welcomes close to a quarter million new immigrants from around the globe every year. Currently, Canada is home to people belonging to more than 200 different ethnic communities. As a matter of fact, there is hardly any culture or country that is not represented here.
The Canadian mosaic is like a flower garden. The beauty of a garden lies in the diversity and colours of its flowers. In the same way, the beauty of Canadian mosaic lies in the wide array of cultures, languages, customs and traditions that immigrants new and old bring to this nation. They greatly enrich and enhance the notion of being a Canadian.

During the past few years, the immigration trends in Canada have shifted from Europe to Asia, Africa and South America. For immigrants from most of the European countries, it has been relatively easier to integrate than their counterparts from other parts of the world. The new immigrants face a number of challenges of different nature. In addition to facing an entirely new environment, they have to deal with a number of other issues. These include identity problems, language barriers and lack of professional opportunities. Moreover, due to a number of reasons, some of the new immigrants may not be fully aware of the vast array of services and resources designed to help them along.

According to the latest statistics, China and India are the largest contributors of immigrants to Canada. Both of these communities, at more than one million each, are fairly well established here in Canada. Consequently, new immigrants from either of these countries can manage easily without learning any of Canadas official languages-English and French. This, in turn, may be a hindrance to their integration into Canadian society. Lack of English and/or French is likely to encourage these new immigrants to stick to their own familiar environment and communities rather than reaching out to others. These are some of the concerns that need to be addressed both individually and collectively.

It is incumbent upon us all, whether we have just come off the aeroplane or have been here for generations, to learn at least one of Canadas official languages, English or French. There are numerous government supported and community organizations helping immigrants learn English and French. Learning a new language becomes a lot easier if there is the will to learn. It opens up new and wide horizons for the learner. At the same time, it empowers an individual to reach out to others rather than always sticking to ones own community at all times. Certainly, we should be proud of our own heritage and language. However, at the same time we should also make every effort to become proud and productive members of Canadian society. The beginning of a brand new year is a great way to start this process. Happy New Year !




Balwant Sanghera
President, Punjabi Language Education Association . He is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist in British Columbia ,Canada.