June 27, 2016 was National Multiculturalism Day in Canada.
You'll be forgiven if you didn't know about it. Not that it means much, but I had no idea. I suspect the same is true for many Canadians.
Canada was the first country to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy, back in 1971. Doing so promotes the idea that all Canadians are equal. It affirms the value and dignity of everyone, regardless of racial or ethnic origin, language or religious affiliation. Multiculturalism helps encourage racial and ethnic harmony and cross-cultural understanding.
As an official policy, that's great. The reality on the ground is different. Most cultures tend to stick together. While this is natural, it means there are still barriers to achieving that cross-cultural understanding.
Here are some ideas on how actively become more multicultural.
- Become friends with at least two or three people who are from a different religion than you. Chances are they'll be from a different ethnic group than you as well. The twelve classical world religions (alphabetically) are: Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism and Zoroastrianism.
- Choose to eat at small, ethnic restaurants. I like Wind, but it's not a true cultural experience in my opinion. Visit Kool Katts (Caribbean), Michinoku (Japanese), Spiice (Chinese), Duru (Korean)The Garden Restaurant (Greek), Passage to India (Indian / Pakistani), Afghan Horseman Kabob (Afghani), The Thai Dish (Thai), and any other non-chain restaurant that offers more authentic cooking. Learning about culture while experiencing new foods is great fun. If you're unsure what to order, ask the proprietors what they would recommend to someone who's never eaten that cuisine before.
- When you see a racial, religious or cultural stereotype, take some time to research whether it's actually true. It's easy for untruths and misinformation to be spread online. Take some time to educate yourself and others.