October 25th, 2020

Assimilation or multi-culturalism?


By Lethbridge Herald on August 2, 2018.

I have been thinking about the new influx of immigrants into Canada. A lot of folk tell me it is the duty of immigrants to become assimilated into the larger culture. This is apparently what they call multiculturalism.
But, did everyone who came here, come here to assimilate?
In 2012, the Universities of Delaware and Virginia published a finding that 10,000 years ago, North America was populated by Europeans. These people, it seems, crossed the North Atlantic in boats. They supposedly lived here for 4,000 years until the ancestors of the people who are now called the First Nations arrived. Those newcomers didn’t seem to have been interested in assimilating, and conquered the Europeans.
After having done away with those, then indigenous peoples, they migrated south. This migration led to years of the new inhabitants fighting and displacing each other.
Some hundreds of years ago a new crop of Europeans, fleeing oppression in their home countries, arrived in North America. They came to practise their own religion and culture and were not really trying to assimilate into the existing ones. The French and English settlers in Upper and Lower Canada had no desire to adopt each others’ lifestyles.
The pioneers came, and “The West” was opened up. The indigenous populations were conquered, not joined.
Canada has welcomed a lot of people fleeing persecution. We have seen the Amish and Hutterian Brethren arrive. They had no wish to assimilate, they just wanted to be left alone to practise their way of life. In fact, one group of Amish recently wanted to leave Canada and move to the United States because they were forbidden to spank their children.
Around the turn of the last century we saw the arrival of the Sons of Freedom Dukhobors, fleeing persecution in Tzarist Russia. Most seemed to have settled in the Slocan Valley and openly resisted any attempts to assimilate them.
Now we welcome Muslim and Middle East refugees, who are seeking only to be left alone to practise their religion.
Canada has always practised multiculturalism. I think we should remember that forcing people to become part of the mainstream is the opposite of multiculturalism: which is people being allowed to exist in any way they choose, and left alone without being forced to participate in any other lifestyle.
Otherwise it would be called mono-culturalism.
Randy Van Zwol
Lethbridge

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