Monday, June 21, 2010

Casting back

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest Confucius

My son, who is a musician and I had a conversation about discrimination the other day, which arose when two of the other older musicians who participates in the open mike program that my son goes to talked about his experiences when he first came to Canada in the mid 1950's.The two people one a man and one a woman talked about how they were made fun of, because of their accents, when they arrived at school. The intolerance continued for both until they graduated in the mid 60's. In the conversation with my son, he talked about when he went to school in the mid 80's and that he did not notice any discrimination or racism in his school. I am sure it was there, but I also believe that by the 80's Canada was a more tolerant and open society.

Both my grandparents on my mothers and fathers side (cousins can correct me if I am wrong) were immigrants to Canada, my grandfather on my mothers side was born in Romania and came to Canada when he was 14, my grandmother on my mothers side was also born in Romania and came to Canada via the States when she was 5 or 6.  My fathers parents were both born in the United States.

I remember my mom's cousins having slight accents but did not think too much of this as family is family and people are accepted. A few years ago I learned that when my mother went to high school in Regina from her home town, she was made fun of because of her accent. So she made up her mind to lose the accent and to not speak Romanian again outside of her home. When we were growing up and elder aunts and uncles came over, everyone spoke English. I was not aware it was because of my mom's rule that in her home you only spoke English.

So discrimination that my mom felt when she left the small community of like minded speakers, and he immigrants to Canada felt in the 50's  existed into the 60's. In the 60's Pierre Elliott Trudeau, started to help Canadians reflect  on the fact we were a multicultural nation and we should embrace this ideal.through his policies. His policy of multiculturalism changed the very face of Canada and created a country whose peoples are internationally recognised for their understanding and acceptance of peoples from other countries and cultures. Something I am glad that my son grew up understanding and accepting people for what they do rather than the colour of their skin or their accent.

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