Sunday, March 1, 2009

Canadian, you sure about that?

When we discuss Canada today, especially in Vancouver BC, we talk about multiculturalism. How great we are to be so accepting, and how great it is to be a mosaic and not a melting pot. We bash the Americans a bit, and we touch up on the fact that we still need work to become a better society but we are on the right path. That's about the sum of it, we move on, all happy about how progressive we are.

I have come to realize that although that may be great, I am one who believes in patriotism. I believe in loving the country that has given me so much, loving the country that I have been educated in. Many people I know, don't like Canada, despite being Canadian citizens. They want to go back to their own land, although they have spent the majority of their lives here. I understand that to a degree, it makes sense. I am Kashmiri, I love where I came from. However, if Canada was under attack, would defend it. This country has given me everything that I know and love. But defending ones nation does not make a person a patriot it, it helps but it’s not the core. It is believing in its value system of Canada that makes one Canadian.

I feel that many Canadian citizens love Canada for its wealth, for its education and for its many of opportunities. They don't feel an attachment to the land and I resent that. If their country was so great why did they leave? If you have come for an education and are a permanent resident, that’s great, excellent. I have no quarrel with you; it’s the Canadian citizens that despise Canada that makes me mad. It is one thing to disagree with the politics and the policies. But if you hate Canadian culture, I resent you and what you stand for. To me, a Canadian citizen is one who can celebrate their own culture, whatever it may be. Be proud of their heritage, and respect others who celebrate their own. But when one hears a Canadian citizen say something along the lines of, "This culture is dirty, or these people are wrong and there lifestyle is wrong. Canadians have no culture, Canadians have no respect, and Canadians don't understand honour." I believe that person should not be a Canadian, they have no right to call themselves Canadians. The beauty of Canada is that I don't have to salute or fall at the feet of ministers. The beauty of Canada is that, even though doctors are respected for what they do, they have to stand in the same line as a construction worker. That is Canadian culture that is what it means to be Canadian. To be equal and to be the same is the essence of Canada.

The mayor of my town lives a few blocks away, she goes to work just like everyone else, she obeys the laws like everyone else. She stands in line and stops at a stop sign, just like everyone else. That is Canadian culture. A man can go the mosque and a temple and be unafraid. A man can wear a turban and a woman can shave her head, and walk with their heads held high, feeling no shame for who they are. That is Canadian culture.

Just because everyone is not the same, and does not follow your respect system, your judgment system, your style in clothes or your appreciation of music, does not mean they are wrong. If you are a person and you believe that Canada is a white nation, you are wrong. Yes, currently, it is dominated mostly by white people; yes our government favors white dominant nations. It is OK to be angry with them if you feel that is wrong, go out and vote to change that. But to have no love for your country and your fellow residents is wrong.

A friend once told me that patriotism leads one to believe they and their fellow countrymen are better than the people of nations. He exclaimed that this was wrong and people should not think that way. I agree and disagree. As Canadians we should try to be the best nation in the world, we should want to be better than other nations. That's what capitalism teaches us, that is what sports teams teach us, and that is what our parents teach us. Most Canadians, especially, the people of Vancouver understand that. Most people who watch hockey and their team to win the Stanley Cup, or want their team to win the at the Olympics understand that they are not better or have more rights than the loser. Just that they are better hockey players. The losers should appreciate that and try to be better themselves. The problem is when you suppress others for not being like you, wanting everyone to like your team and your sport.

Just like Canadians are allowed to have their own mosaic identities, so should the other nations of the worlds. Just because I think Canada is better than other nations, does not mean that Canadian's lives are worth more those of Non-Canadians’. I hope Canada saves both lives if it can, but I would expect it to save a Canadians first. Although, this is a different discussion for another blog. My point is that patriotism does not have to lead to racism or discrimination. As Canadians we should be able to understand that, being proud of our heritage does not mean having to disrespect others culture and backgrounds.

So when I hear comments as I posted above, it makes me very angry. When Canadian citizens claim this country is full of filth and they can't wait to go back to their own countries, it disgusts me. That person, that Canadian should not have citizenship, rather permanent residency. I mean to call them Canadian makes me laugh. I know it is hard to police that, I am not saying we should try to ask people how much they love Canada before we make them citizens. Or force them to learn English. In fact, I think English or French should not be a requirement for becoming a Canadian what-so-ever. I know it is impossible to change what is happening, I am just posting my thoughts of what I think.

I just wanted to put it out there, that some Canadians hate Canada for the freedoms they use but don't want others to claim. If a person can walk on a nude beach, another person or even the same person should also be allowed to wear a Burka. Neither should hate Canada because someone is exercising a right that they are enjoying but don’t want someone else to enjoy. So to anyone who is a Canadian citizen and does not love Canada for its rights and freedoms. You are wrong, I a fellow Canadian citizen respect you as a resident of Canada, I believe you have the right to your own opinion, but I disagree with you calling yourself a Canadian.

UPDATE: Just to make this more clear, or to give a better example. I see my self as Canadian, I am from Kashmir, But I am Canadian, I celebrate Kashmiri and Pakistani culture, but I am a Canadian. I have lived here most of my life this is what I know and love. You can even call me Kashmiri-Canadian. But if someone refers to themselves only as Kashmiri, Indian, Pakistani, Arab, Chinese, British, etc and they have lived here the majority of their lives. They have Canadian citizenship but they don't see themselves as Canadians. Or think of themselves as better than Canadians, it annoys the hell out of me.

*** Of course this is all based on what I define as a citizen or Canadian.

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