Yesterday was the 149th Canada Day, which to some extent could be considered as a prelude to Ottawa 2017 that will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Canadian Federation throughout the year 2017. Several events and activities were held across the country. And to no surprise diversity was the hot topic at Parliament Hill.
Despite a thunderstorm watch for Ottawa, Canada Day at Parliament Hill was impressive. An inconsiderable number of people were present to show up their Canadian pride, proudly wearing the country’s colours red and white and waving the Canadian flag.
Around Parliament Hill the euphoria knows no boundary. Groups of family members and friends were everywhere looking for a chance to participate in all activities, taste food truck, and catch a glimpse of government’s officials. Some TV reports mentioned that there were people from across the country and outside Canada coming to celebrate the country’s dominion in the nation’s Capital.
Despite heavy security, a long line of people patiently waited for their turn to get inside Parliament Hill after having their purses or bags searched and physically scanned for metal by a screening officer. There seemed to be a frenzy of excitement that compelled people to get near the stand and around the security lines for a chance of selfies with officials or just to capture them on camera.
Security was so tight that coming out before the end of the ceremony took 10 times longer than coming in. Maybe, just maybe catching the event on TV is not such a bad idea. Bottom down, it was a beautiful display of diversity in terms of the gatherings. The Prime Minister speech had captured the essence of yesterday’s Canada Day in two words “extraordinary diversity“, which we are going to reflect on through the rest of this blog.
“You know when I look at today I see the one thing that makes Canada a unique country in the world. I see an extraordinary diversity“. – Justin Trudeau (CBC News – Politics)
However, how do you define ‘extraordinary diversity’? Who is included in such diversity? Who’s left out? Here’s the PM’s address for more closure.
Justin Trudeau Speech at Parliament Hill from The Pearson Centre
Just like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau mentioned in his speech at Parliament Hill, Canada is one of the most diverse countries on Earth. And yesterday, diversity could be seen in the gathering at and around Parliament Hill. So Many Canadians from different parts of the country, different languages, different backgrounds and different skin colors openly showed their Canadian Pride.
However, diversity bears more than just ceremonial and political representations. True diversity is inherent to every social, cultural, and economic sphere of a country, particularly one that describes itself as multicultural such as Canada.
To be fair much progress was seen at the Canada Day 2016 on the Hill. The ceremony started with the acknowledgement that the event was being held on Algonquin Traditional Territory (indigenous land) and the Chief of the Indigenous people was also recognized. Although it is ironic since the land is now own by the Canadian government, Trudeau did mention: “the first step to true reconciliation is learning more about one another“.
At least, talking about unacceptable past and current living conditions of indigenous people in the Canadian land does not seem to be so taboo anymore. It means a step closer to diversity, it means taking responsibility, it means hope that Canadians and indigenous people will be able to work together towards mea culpa and forgiveness, towards understanding, towards a brighter future for all.
However, some indigenous people “chose not to celebrate Canada Day“.
“Every day, we are forced to live with the continued theft of our land and resources—the broken treaties, the staggering number of missing and murdered sisters, the genocide of our peoples and the refusal to recognize our place in this nation”. – Killa Atencio (An indigenous woman)
But, frankly this confirms the idea that an honest discussion is underway with the hope that it will lead to healing and better living conditions for indigenous people in Canada.
Multiculralism works hand in hand with diversity
Just like some indigenous people, other Canadians felt not included in Trudeau’s diversity address at Parliament Hill. Some single fathers for instance felt they were left alone as the speech considered only single mothers. And so do some people from the middle class. Another thing that was not clear enough in PM Trudeau’s address was cultural diversity. There was a tremendous effort for diversity, for equality in the PM’s speech though.
“We are a country where everyone is equal, regardless of our sexual orientation or our sexual identity”. – PM Justin Trudeau
However, representation is key. We all know there’s a lack of representation of people of colour in every sphere in Canada, leading to discrimination and many social and economic barriers. It’s time that these issues find their ways in the government political agenda. It would have meant a lot to clearly hear that equality also includes everyone regardless of their skin color.
There cannot be true multiculturalism without cultural, social, political, and above all economic integration of all inhabitants.
The hope is that starting now cultural diversity and economic equality for all will be part of social and political discussion. Therefore, by next Canada Day, the 150th birth of the nation, true social and economic inclusion for all regarding their backgrounds will be part of the speech and the political agenda. The hope is that everyone will feel included in a United Canada.
Canada Day 2016 in image