Adrienne Clarkson wrote a compelling article addressing an important issue in Canadian culture: we are not immune to racism. In an address made at a citizenship ceremony at Rideau Hall, Clarkson addresses the racist initiatives historically put forth by the Canadian government. Clarkson also discusses the growing issue that stems from our proximity to the United States and the problematic rhetoric surrounding it.
The recent attack on the Quebec mosque has appalled Canadians nationwide, yet has also forced Canadians to questions a fundamental value of our culture: are we as tolerant as we believe?
As a UBC student, my immediate community of academics and students promote tolerance of all cultures. In my experience, intolerance of different ethnicities or sexual orientations is considered socially taboo and thus hateful rhetoric is not commonplace. However my socio-cultural understanding is simply a reflection of my social surroundings and is in no way reflection of the ‘Canadian’ social climate.
Canadians residing in tolerant communities must recognize the multiplicity of views within our country. It would be problematic to suggest that racist ideologies are not held by Canadians and furthermore ignoring our countries historically racist legislation.
I hope that Canadians began to think critically about the necessary steps in combatting systematic racism. By recognizing the variety of views held in our country and creating dialogue around this topic, we are choosing to acknowledge our past and beginning to create a future where all cultures are tolerated.