The View from The Niagara Guide

General observations and musings on how we can make Niagara a better place.

Blink, and You Miss It

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, June 28, 2016

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.
Whether or not you (or I) knew that yesterday was National Multiculturalism Day is really not important as long as we're doing our part to foster understanding among all people.

Here We Go Again

Mark Kawabe - Friday, June 24, 2016

The British people have spoken and have voted to leave the European Union. 52% of the population have chosen the uncertainty of leaving vs. the uncertainty of remaining. The one thing the two sides have in common is fear.

The fear of staying in the EU, with its perceived bureaucracy, ability to impose rules on its member states and unaccountability was enough to convince a majority of Britons to vote to leave. The fear of economic uncertainty was an major factor in why almost an equal number voted to stay.

The start of the plunge at the top of a roller coaster

With all the uncertainty, one thing is certain: change is scary, but it's less scary if we seem to be in control. 52% of voters felt they would have more control over their futures by not being part of a larger entity. Thinking we have control over a potential outcome helps reduce fear.

The media headlines today are fear-provoking. They always are and they always will be. Fear is how the media get our attention and make their money. If there's one thing you have control over, it's your ability to recognize that despite the challenges you face, there are some things you control and some things you don't. Control what you can, then deal with whatever else comes your way to the best of your abilities.

We're on a big roller coaster. There's a build up, we go over the precipice and then are thrown around more loops, curves, swoops and hills. Ultimately though, we wind up in the same place as we were before, a little shaken up, our equilibrium thrown off, our hair a mess, and slightly changed for the experience.

Enjoy the ride as best you can and remember: we're all in this together.


National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism

Mark Kawabe - Thursday, June 23, 2016

On June 23, 1985, 329 Canadians died when Air India flight 182 was destroyed by a bomb. To this day, this event is the largest mass murder and act of terrorism in Canadian history.

June 23rd was declared a National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism. Flags should be flown at half mast to honour both the victims of the bombing of Air India flight 182 along with all other Canadian victims of terrorism.

May we remember and honour appropriately.

National Aboriginal Day

Mark Kawabe - Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Totem PoleToday is National Aboriginal Day in Canada. To be honest, this is the first time I've heard about it. I suspect I'm not the only one in that boat. It's the 20th anniversary of National Aboriginal Day, so I've been in the dark for 20 years. Thank you Candy Palmater on CBC for enlightening me.

On June 21st, we are invited to learn more about Indigenous history and culture and to build stronger relationships based on mutual respect and understanding.

A quick scan of the Ontario government's website shows that tonight, Niagara Falls will be lit in the colours of the Medicine Wheel (yellow, red, blue and white) to mark the day. The Canadian Government's website lists a number of events happening around the country. The only Niagara events I could find marking the day in the top 30 results in Google is a display of Aboriginal art at the Grimsby Public Art Gallery and a picture from Ontario Power Generation's Instagram account - and the mention of the lighting of Niagara Falls in the Ontario Government's news release.

It can be argued that Canada would not be Canada were it not for the assistance of Aboriginal soldiers during the War of 1812. I don't think the intervening years have been kind to Canada's Indigenous peoples. We collectively owe them a debt of gratitude for their contributions to the founding of our country, and I think we owe it to ourselves to repay that debt with more compassion and understanding of Aboriginal concerns nation-wide.

Happy National Aboriginal Day! Here's hoping for better relations between us all.


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