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Fostering Intercultural Harmony
Canada is considered to be one of the most tolerant
countries in the world

Surrey, Vancouver, Jan 24, 2012
Balwant Sanghera

          Canada is considered to be one of the most tolerant countries in the world. This is reflected nearly in every aspect of our lives. The demographics, especially in three of Canada’s major urban centres-Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver – have changed completely during the past forty years. They have now become very diverse and multicultural. Since this country officially adopted the policy of multiculturalism, it has never looked back. This change is evident in almost every elected and non-elected position in Canada.

                        All the way from the governor general to parliament, lieutenant general to legislatures to city councils this on-going change is visible. It further reinforces this country’s open and welcoming attitude to diversity. Certainly, this kind of approach has made Canada much richer. This, in turn, has greatly enhanced its image worldwide.

                        There is no doubt that quite a bit a has been accomplished on this front. However, a lot more still needs to be done. One area of major concern in this regard seems to be the growing number of ethnic enclaves. Prominent Vancouver Sun columnist Douglas Todd has been doing a commendable job   in highlighting issues relating to multiculturalism and diversity. Todd defines an ethnic enclave where one specific ethnic group makes up 30% or more of the neighborhood. He goes on to state that in 1976 there were only six ethnic enclaves in all of Canada. However, according to the latest statistics there are more than 110 ethnic enclaves in Metro Vancouver alone and 230 across Canada.
                        It is true that ethnic enclaves offer a sense of familiarity, belonging, security and comfort especially to new immigrants. However, in the long run, they limit their ability to integrate into the mainstream. In this context, it is important to recognize that all of us must make an earnest effort to reach out and integrate into the mainstream. Whether we have been here for generations or have just come off the aeroplane, we must learn at least   one of Canada’s official languages-English or French. Furthermore, we should make a concerted effort in reaching out to others.

                        Canada is a wonderful country. It is home to more than 200 different communities representing nearly every corner of the world. Canadians can be rightly proud of being citizens of one of the most beautiful, tolerant, inclusive and welcoming countries in the world. As its citizens, it is incumbent upon us to make it even better. Certainly, we should be proud of our heritage, including our mother tongue. At the same time, we need to be proud of being Canadian. Becoming proficient in one of Canada’s official language, in addition to our own mother tongue, should go a long way in fostering intercultural harmony and pride in Canada.

Balwant Sanghera
(Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist)                    










Balwant Sanghera

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