A sense of belonging and tranquility

Vancouver’s multicultural scene can make you feel as if you’re walking around a foreign country for a few moments. As a Mexican immigrant who moved to Vancouver 13 years ago, I constantly find myself trying to decipher what language other immigrants are speaking while out on the street. Sometimes I guess correctly, other times I have no idea what language that is. But regardless of the language’s origins, those foreign sounds take me to a foreign land, but the thing is, it’s not a foreign land. It’s where we live, Vancouver.

Vancouver’s multicultural nature has fostered great acceptance and tolerance between people and cultures, and while a place with zero discrimination doesn’t exist, Vancouver has been one where I’ve witnessed the least discrimination and the most respectful interactions between cultures, and whenever discrimination does happen, such matter is usually resolved efficiently and is seen as completely intolerable. And it gives me great peace of mind and pride to live in a city where discrimination and intolerance towards other cultures is addressed with efficiency and taken with seriousness as it should be. It seems that Vancouver’s multiculturalism has paved the way for not only accepting the unknown more easily but also for respecting it. This can probably explain why, when I first moved here, I didn’t feel totally out of place. The fact that there were other people in situations similar to mine, gave me some sense of tranquility and belonging. The scene in Vancouver makes you feel as though your own culture belongs to this big circle of cultures. Needless to say, that doesn’t mean that you’re going to automatically click and belong to all of these different cultures and people.

Sometimes, it might even feel like so much of everything could also make you feel left out, and although this might sound contradicting to what I had mentioned earlier, providing a sense of belonging, there can also be that other side to it. It is rather unsettling to sometimes experience mixed feelings towards the community we live in, but the fact is that there’s no such thing as perfection, even in a city where everything seems to run smoothly and people are said to be the nicest in the world.

The many colours of friendship.

Although being from different backgrounds doesn’t guarantee instant friendship between foreigners, it is a gift that the Vancouver scene provides us when we do find and create bonds with people from varying cultures. I personally have had the joy to meet and foster great friendships and connections with people who come from different walks of life and parts of the world; and although a tendency to gravitate towards people from the same culture as our own can sometimes prevail as immigrants, (even I have sometimes been guilty of this), when you do open yourself to learning from different cultures around Vancouver, you get the amazing opportunity to absorb traditions and customs other than your own.

This is extremely enriching and unique to Vancouver since if it weren’t for its multicultural nature, perhaps it wouldn’t be so easy to experience and live so fully a variety of customs, beliefs and ways of life. These can be experienced while trying out new and delicious food from a multitude of countries (given Vancouver’s vast selection of multicultural restaurants), going to festivals dedicated to a specific culture or region, or simply by observing the way in which people from different backgrounds behave and interact with one another.

This being said, the most valuable thing that Vancouver has to offer is the possibility to better yourself as a person. It fosters much more empathy and tolerance for what we see as different, and it allows us to analyze situations from perspectives other than our own, Vancouver shows the world that we shouldn’t be afraid of the unknown, but that our lives can be much richer when we embrace it.