Growing up in Vancouver I heard the term “multiculturalism” a lot. I was taught that Canada, as a whole, is a multicultural country, a “mosaic” of peoples from many different places. As a kid, that seemed pretty obvious. People are all different – some were born here, some were born across the country and some were born across the globe. It didn’t really seem special in any way –
it was more of a fact of life. You’re always going to have a variety of cultures where you live. That’s something that people respect and enjoy.
Now, of course, I know that’s not the case everywhere, but it still seems kind of weird to me that it isn’t. Reading about some of Canada’s past immigration policies, such as the head tax on Chinese immigrants, they seem wrong to me. When Canada announced they would be accepting Syrian refugees into the country I almost wanted to say “well, duh.” Accepting other cultures and people just seems like the right thing to do, because having lots of variety in people, culture, ways of thinking and viewpoints makes for a different, more dynamic and more exciting place to live, and that’s (to me, at least) a good thing. And I still haven’t even explored everything the city has to offer!
Since I began writing for The Source, I’ve written about dozens of events that I’d never even heard of before: a large variety of places and events that sound interesting and exist here because of Vancouver’s (and Canada’s) multiculturalism. I live close to Commercial Drive, and I’ve been to Italian Day on The Drive multiple times, where thousands of people come out to walk along the road, listen to music, eat food and simply enjoy themselves. It’s an annual tradition and one that accepts any Vancouverite that simply wants to have a good time and celebrate Italian heritage on Commercial Drive in Vancouver.
Italian Day on The Drive is just one of many celebrations that occur in this area. There are dozens and dozens of festivals and celebrations for the huge collection of cultures, ethnicities and beliefs that inhabit the area, with each of them drawing crowds that contain not just those people who “belong” to that culture, but to people from all walks of life, who want to experience what those around them can share. The opportunity for people to express themselves and celebrate who they are means that there is the opportunity for others to do so with them, bringing people together, no matter how “different” they might be.
Each city has its own culture and its own dynamic or personality that sets it apart from other places. Vancouver’s culture is a blend that I haven’t yet experienced to its fullest, but I do know that I like it. I won’t claim it’s the greatest city in the world, because I don’t think that’s something that can really be measured or that I have any interest in debating, but I will say that it’s a city (though of course it has its faults) I am happy to say I live in, a city filled with multiculturalism. And that’s crucial, because if we want our mosaic to be the most beautiful it can be, we’ve got to let everyone leave their mark on it.