December 13, 2007 at 1:04 am Leave a comment

Multiculturalism is a key component of Canada. It is, arguably, one of the most defining things about our modern society, especially where the big urban areas are concerned. There are both strengths and challenges to contend with when so many cultures live in such close quarters.


On the positive side living in a multicultural society enables people to experience the wonderful variety of life styles and culinary delights that the world has to offer. You can, in a sense, immerse yourself in a different part of the world by making a fifteen-minute trip to a different part of the city.


On the negative side situations like this can bring up some tough questions. Yesterday, in Toronto, a young woman, a teenager actually, was killed by her father because, according to the media, she resisted wearing more traditional middle-eastern dress. Obviously killing someone over any situation, let alone how a person chooses to dress themselves, is horrible and should never occur in a sane society, but this situation does bring up some interesting questions regarding multiculturalism in our society.


Basically, there was a cultural difference within the family structure of this first-generation Canadian family. The father wanted his children – if I remember correctly it was reported that he had seven children – to dress in more ethnically traditional clothing. The youngest daughter, Aqsa Parvez, wished to dress the way a ‘typical’ Toronto teen dresses.


The father wished to retain his families cultural heritage.


The daughter wanted to ‘assimilate’ into the local culture.


Who, if anyone, was right?


Let’s put it frankly: Should immigrants make every attempt to embrace the culture of their new country, or should the strive to maintain attributes of their traditional culture? Is there a middle ground? If you were to move to a foreign country, would you strive to immerse yourself in that new culture? What of your original culture would you be willing to give up? What elements of your old culture would you defend and never give up on no matter what the external pressure you felt from your new countrymen?


Is it the fear of the unknown that drives us apart, or the excitement of learning something new that brings us together?


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