Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Multicultural Equality?

Living in a multicultural environment can sometimes be hard. We have to learn to respect other cultures and integrate these people to our society. Unfortunately, these differences can cause conflict among us, since what is different sometimes scare other people. Fortunately, in general, Canada’s government and people are usually very comprehensive and welcoming. As I said before, it can be difficult to share our land with people who have different beliefs and culture, but it also creates a mesh in between the population. Some think we are too accommodant, other think we are not enough. Where is the line we most not cross? When will it be too late? When will we have lost our own culture?

Many experts say that the debate around reasonable accommodation started a few years ago, in early 2007, in the province of Quebec. This polemic took place in a wealthy neighborhood in Montreal named Outremont. This neighborhood is mostly inhabited by Jewish orthodox people who did not like to see women, lightly dress, training, at the local YMCA. When the community asked for clouded windows, many people who were not involved in this conflict before stood up and claimed that it was outrageous. The media got involved then the government and it finally led to the to the Bouchard -Taylor commission.

Reasonable accommodation is something that refers to Canada’s human’s right chart, indeed, as we can read in the first paragraph of article 15, people must not be treated differently according to their culture, ethnic group, religion or sex. What about voting? It is also our right to express our political opinion in a democratic country, but must the rules change because someone has a different culture? How do we establish equality when we are all different? A woman wearing the Burqa or the Nikab has the right to vote without showing her face since 2007. Should it be acceptable in our society that we call a democracy and where everyone is treated equally? Other stories like that happened too. A man had been forced to go out off the pool to let some islamist extremists swim, a paramedic had to go out of an ambulance because he was eating a pork sandwich and at the HEC a corridor was blocked because people were praying during the rush hour. The more we will give the more they will take. We all make an effort to make these people a part of what Canada is, but they have to be indulgent too and respect this cultural cohabitation.

Religion is between you and God. Religion is something that concerns ourselves and ourselves only and should never imply somebody from the exterior and surely not someone who does not even practice this same religion. Indeed, recently, people practicing the Sikhism religion asked permission to wear the Kirpan, a religious symbol, in public schools. The Kirpan is as small knife worn at the waist by Sikh boys. Is it normal to authorize young boys to wear a weapon on them? Furthermore, how can Canada be a lay society if there is still catholic sign in parliament? Being fair with everyone begins with equality and that is not something I would call equal.

There are more than 3.5 millions immigrants in Canada. We all need to live with our differences peacefully. Surely it is not a simple thing, but according to me, the solution is to communicate and respect each other. People need to learn how to live with their religion without affecting others. Reasonable limits have their limits!

Words by Leila Sediri; photos by Laurence Desrosiers

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