I cannot guarantee the experience anyone else will have in Vancouver. The collection of events in my experience here have been utterly unexpected and unique and formed with the privilege of being bilingual, white and male. There is an endless variety of people gathered together in this city, interacting and communicating in almost random patterns, which makes it impossible to summarize one multicultural experience.
Cherish the events that include everyone.
The first thing that must be acknowledged is the stolen land that we all share, the unceded territory of the Coast Salish people. In order to properly celebrate multiculturalism here we must recognize the implicit attempt colonizers had in removing the original culture of this area. Any movement forward will have to begin in decolonization. Listen, respect and empower Indigenous voices. It is only from here that we can move on.
Every day as individuals in every action we take adds to a greater collaborative culture here and now, which brings with it an essential responsibility to always listen, give voice to each other and to celebrate the uniqueness of what we all share.
I first moved here five years ago the summer after graduating from high school. Since then I have had the privilege of working in an almost concerning number of different jobs. From scrubbing greasy dishes at the famed White Spot to helping light Hollywood actors. These jobs have given me the chance to meet an incredible array of different people. People from all walks of life and from across the world. All brought together here and participating in the western culture of work.
Sometimes grabbing a beer after our shift, we have been able to share stories of our cultures and backgrounds. Although rarely do we get to actually practice our cultures with each other and create something unique. In fact, from what I gather, most of my coworkers do not have time to even practice their own cultures at home. This can become toxic. So much time is devoted to their job that the culture of work has replaced the heritage they call their own.
It is in opportunities outside of work that I have been able to share in the amazing multicultural experiences Vancouver likes to boast about. Latin rhythms filling up cafes and restaurants with music so contagious you have to dance. The sacred and community-
oriented experiences of Indigenous ceremonies. The generosity of families and the spectacle of the parades on Chinese New Year. These are the things I cherish most. These are the events that make living here as beautiful as it can be.
Take a moment. Devote time to participating in things that bring people together. Cherish the events that include everyone. If I had to give one piece of advice it would be to try and attend anything and everything you are invited to. If you are not invited to anything, go and find it! There is an endless amount of things happening in this city all the time.
I want to challenge the readers: devote added time to the communities we share, help celebrate other cultures and be proud of your own. Don’t let your work distract you from what is most important. If you employ someone, give them the support to take time off. If you work constantly, take what time you can to give back. There is strength in diversity. The more perspectives we share, the more solutions we know. Everyone plays a role. Do not underestimate yours.