Sunday, April 05, 2009

Multicultural groups under attack again

This recent article in the Edmonton Sun makes me wonder if Canada will ever get a multiculturalism minister who understands the appeal to a lot of Canadians of the 'cultural" aspect of multiculturalism?

Not to all, granted, but to a lot of us.

Unfortunately, all too many of our politicians bend over backwards to mollify those to whom it doesn't appeal. So struggling ethno-cultural groups like the Shumka Dancers get the shaft.

Jason Kenney said Canada's minorities are strong and rich enough to support themselves and should compete with "old-stock" Canadians and other ethnic groups for cultural funding.

Very crafty way to cut off such groups at the knees. Unless, of course, there will be increased funding for these newly mainstream groups in these "old stock" funding sources.

And how likely is that. About as likely as those holding the purse strings to these "old stock" funding sources will ever appreciate and support minorities who became "strong and rich" using their own hard-earned resources, as Ukrainian Canadian cultural groups have had to.

This is a déja vu throwback to the Mulroney era, when a previous minister made a point of denigrating "3D multiculturalism" ... the Ds referring to Diet, Dance and Dress. (Now they are referred to collectively as "cultural diversity.")

Yet those very elements of multiculturalism are by far the most fun, interesting and appealing to mainstream Canadians. Yet for some reason, politicians seem to consider them "divisive."

Never mind that huge crowds of Canadians of all backgrounds are drawn to multicultural festivals, which are generally family-friendly events run by volunteers. (That's as in unpaid volunteers.) The costs associated with such cultural events and groups go to commercial vendors like rental facilities and government licensing departments. But that's beside the point, I guess. Let them eat cake.

What is particularly ironic is that this same minister recently created an award in the name of a Ukrainian pioneer in multiculturalism, which I blogged about in an earlier post.

The lip service multiculturalism gets is starting to get cacophonous. Possibly an ongoing attempt to divert attention from the raiding of the coffers that actually do support it?

It makes me wonder if perhaps our current multiculturalism minister is not among those of us who enjoy multicultural diversity, and is sacrificing it in order to pander to potential voters that can be counted on to vote in blocs.

The minister said he's spent countless hours travelling the country -- especially in his last position as secretary of state for multiculturalism and the Conservative Party's go-to man for all things ethnic -- and he believes what immigrants want most is to be "unhyphenated Canadians."

I wonder when, or if, he and his colleagues will ever come to understand, and accept, that a large number of native-born Canadians may actually be proud to be "hyphenated" Canadians. And that such pride emanates from an awareness and appreciation of cultural diversity that is leap years ahead of that of our political elites.

He said that doesn't mean he wants an American "melting-pot" model, but rather a "multiculturalism where we all share each other's backgrounds on the basis of our common Canadian values."

It might be an idea for Mr. Kenney and his colleagues to take a closer look at what is going on south of the border. Today's American "melting pot" is looking a lot more culturally diverse than the watered-down "mosaic" our country's political elites seem so committed to cultivating.


Anonymous said...

Bravo, Pawlina!
There was a study done at McMaster in recent years which proved that immigrant youth who continue to speak their language and maintain links to their culture actually adjust BETTER as new Canadians than those who abandon their culture of origin. The minister totally betrays his ignorance (and boorishness) with his disparaging melting-pot statements.
Vseho dobroho,

Pawlina said...

Unfortunately this minister is not the first, nor the only one, to hold such a view. The sad thing is that it is shared by many in the corporate, academic and media elite, as well as by many "ordinary" Canadians.

Hopefully more information like this will come forward and eventually enlighten those who cling to backward mindsets.

Thanks for your comments, Ksenia! :-)