Sign up today! CRRF Directions: Webinar – ‘The Power of Words’ 6 October

Join David Matas and myself in a discussion of the ‘power of words’ to shape discourse around citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism.

Sign-up: CRRF Directions: Webinar – The ‘Power of Words’ Tuesday, 6 October 11 am

Canadians Don’t Care About Multiculturalism

The marginal counter-narrative, selectively quoting from the CRRF poll (which on some of the questions related to multiculturalism is not supported by other polling):

Of great interest is that 64 percent agreed with the statement that “Canadian multiculturalism allows people to pursue certain cultural practices that are incompatible with Canadian laws and norms.” Translation: almost two-thirds of Canadians think that multiculturalism is a threat to Canadian society, with this high level of concern distributed evenly among all age groups and between the sexes.

In response to these concerns, only 6 percent thought we should “encourage multiculturalism” in order to address the problem—which placed multiculturalism in last place among all options. First place went to “enforce/impose laws on all Canadians/must abide by Canadian laws” by a large margin.

So when Anita Bromberg, the Executive Director of the CRRF, claims that “most Canadians agree that multiculturalism contributes to social cohesion, has a positive impact on ethnic and religious minorities, and makes it easier for newcomers to adapt to, and adopt shared Canadian values,” the CRRF’s own survey does not appear to support this interpretation. Quite the opposite.

The take home messages from this survey are undeniable, profound, and long overdue. Canadians do not value multiculturalism, and as such, the federal government should be moving to repeal the Canadian Race Relations Foundation Act 1991, defund the CRRF, and eliminate multiculturalism from its policy making efforts.

An example of the ‘last mile’ challenge highlighted by Doug Saunders in The last mile of equal rights is the hardest – The Globe and Mail.

Canadians Don’t Care About Multiculturalism.

Opinion: There’s no link between terrorism and multiculturalism – Jedwab

Jack Jedwab of ACS notes the many fallacies in Farid Rohani’s piece on multiculturalism and radicalization (Opinion: Multiculturalism should not be misused to justify divisions: Farid Rohani):

Yet Rohani makes a pernicious link between these heinous acts and Canadian multiculturalism. He establishes this false association by suggesting that the Canadian multicultural framework has seen “activists promote group traditions as having more importance than individual freedoms,” and suggests it creates an environment that enables terrorists to propagate their views. He further states that multiculturalism “is being used to create different groups that contest our tolerant democracy.”

It has been increasingly common for detractors of multiculturalism to make such claims without identifying the culprits. Rohani does precisely this and, regrettably, contributes to the spread of what he describes as “quiet intolerance,” the very thing about which he expresses concern. His observation will end up inviting unfair generalizations about minority religious groups that will fuel the divisions that he suggests he seeks to remedy.

Rohani implies that such things as forced and arranged marriages, honour killings and teaching of hate toward other religions or toward homosexuals or death warrants against apostates are also to be attributed to flawed communications about what pluralism and multiculturalism entail. In general, such things are far more prevalent in non-democratic societies that reject diversity and multiculturalism. The individuals who engage in such egregious acts for the most part wish to erode multiculturalism and replace it with a model of society that would limit individual freedoms and undermine intercultural harmony.

Rohani specifically singles out newcomers to Canada as being particularly exposed to distortion about our national identity and values. So what would he make of the fact that the killings in Ottawa and St-Jean-sur-Richelieu were carried out by individuals born and raised in Canada? Indeed, newcomers value the opportunity to live in our democracy and there is no evidence that they are more likely than non-immigrants to want to undermine it.

Opinion: There’s no link between terrorism and multiculturalism | Montreal Gazette.

Clear case of ‘multicultiphobia,’ to use Phil Ryan’s phrase.

Jedwab also cites the recent polling done for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation as supporting this view (report-on-canadian-values), as do most polls that I have seen.

Ottawa Conference Addresses Key Citizenship Questions – New Canadian Media – NCM

Summary of the recent Canadian Race Relations Foundation symposium on citizenship:

The focus of the symposium was clearly on the meaning of Canadian citizenship and the role of Canadian identity in the context of immigrants and newcomers to Canada. This was discussed in several sessions, such as whether new Canadians were “importing conflict” from other regions into Canada, if multi-faith based organizations were impacting positively on greater co-existence between different communities, the role of the media in reflecting diversity, and most controversially, the role of religion, most notably Islam, and the rise of extremism in Canada.

Divisions were clearly etched in this latter discussion, where there was both a call for greater awareness raising and education among both adults and the youth on issues of extremism and racial discrimination, as well as accepting the reality of a changing global security scenario. Law enforcement agencies such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police RCMP and provincial police forces have particularly been the focus of attention in trying to sensitize their officers in working with diverse and multi-faith communities in countering cases of radicalization.

From a psychological and human perspective, speakers suggested that violence should be seen as a function of human vulnerability and personal behaviour, rather than associated with a particular group or belief system. Almost all presenters belonging to various diverse communities had personal stories to share about their experiences in Canada with racial discrimination. However, it was clear that there is still far to go in bridging this divide.

The takeaway from the symposium was that change, especially positive change, takes time. For the 250,000 immigrants welcomed to Canada annually, the message from the government was one of integration.  But the message was not limited to only newcomers. Those born in Canada also need to be aware and understand the responsibilities associated with citizenship. For this, the work of both small community groups and large government organizations were considered to be equally important in creating a tolerant and secure Canada.

The panel I moderated, on the role Canadian values have in improving community resilience against extremism, certainly had a wide and diverse range of views from those who proposed cutting back immigration from certain countries to those focusing on social inclusion.

Ottawa Conference Addresses Key Citizenship Questions – New Canadian Media – NCM.

Canadian Race Relations Foundation | Awards of Excellence Call for Nominations

Call for nominations for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation Awards of Excellence:

Nominations are open for this years Canadian Race Relations Foundation Awards of Excellence for Best Practices in promoting harmonious race relations – but the deadline is fast approaching!

Canadian organizations from the voluntary, private or public sector may nominate themselves, or be nominated by others, and submit their applications no later than 9 a.m. on Mon., Sept. 22, 2014 via the CRRF website at www.crrf-fcrr.ca.

The prestigious Awards of Excellence recognize initiatives that build an awareness and understanding of Canadian values and identity that are reflective of Canadian diversity and respectful race relations.

“Our award winners represent organizations that have taken the ideals of harmonious race relations and social cohesion, and transformed them into successful, sustainable programs that can be reproduced,” said Albert Lo, chairperson, Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

“Winning this prestigious award, and being published by the CRRF, shines a spotlight on these thought-leaders, elevates their public profile and raises awareness of their important initiatives.  These exceptional organizations and agencies become part of a pantheon of other forward thinkers whose work has contributed to our international knowledge base of cutting-edge anti-racism research and practice.”

One award will be given for Best Practices in each of the following six categories: Aboriginal Peoples, community, corporate, education, government/public sector and youth initiatives.

Canadian Race Relations Foundation | Canadian Race Relations Foundation Awards of Excellence.

What’s wrong with this Canadian anti-racism poster?

While I agree with Todd’s views that we are a mix of identities, I think he goes too far in over interpreting the Canadian Race Relations Foundation poster.

After all, the poster is simply trying to say look at the person first, treat them equally and fairly, it doesn’t preclude further curiosity and discussion or ignore the various identities we have. And that no group is monolithic; one has to look at the individual and get to know them as a person, not a stereotype:

The poster is promoting confusing ideas about racism by telling viewers the only thing anyone should be concerned about regarding anyone is that they are “Canadian!”

But everyone in Canada has multiple identities.

They are shaped in part by being Canadian. But they are also shaped by their ethno-cultural background. They are shaped by being members of a religion (or not), by being female, by having roots in certain countries, by their economic status, by their familiarity with certain languages, by their family status and a host of other things.

Many factors make up who we are.

Multiculturalism should not be about assuming everyone is the same, ie. “Canadian.” That is not the end of our identities. But anti-racism groups like this act as if we should think and believe everyone is the same.

It’s dangerous teaching. They’re stifling curiousity. And what they are doing has potential to poison relations in Canada between people from different ethno-cultural-religious groups.

What’s wrong with this Canadian anti-racism poster? | Vancouver Sun.

Disclosure: I was an ex officio Board Member of the CRRF as part of my duties as DG – Citizenship and Multiculturalism