January 14, 2007
The Toronto Star
1 Yonge Street
Carol Goar's column "Equality, not multiculturalism" (January 12, 2007), which reports on Robert Jensen's presentation, points very much to the heart of the matter on the question of "diversity" and "Multiculturalism" - the question of acceptance and belonging. It is particularly significant among racialized persons. The un-stated - or more precisely, the un-reported - question among racialized persons is: What else do I have to do to be considered a Canadian?
The yardsticks of "Canadianism" continue to move for racialized peoples as being born in Canada and abiding by the principles of citizenship do not appear to be sufficient prerequisites to be Canadian. It has long been a sore point among racialized persons that they are constantly asked "Where are you from?" This suggests that whether they were born in Canada, with a longer ancestral connection to Canada than some of the askers, the idea that they could be "Canadian" is questionable.
The Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF), along with other anti-racism organizations, has long been campaigning bring back the discussion of racism to the table. Multiculturalism and diversity policies, while they may have good intentions, have not dealt effectively with exclusion. Indeed, the way multiculturalism and diversity have been practiced seem to reinforce the notion of "knowing your place." That you may continue to practice many of your beliefs or cultural traditions but it is not Canadian because it is not European.
Is it little wonder that racialized youth who have watched the exclusion and humiliation of their parents by Canadian institutions feel left out?
Ayman Al-Yassini, Ph. D.,