Comment - We are all Canadian

by Bill Jackson - The Regional
May 20, 2009

We all have a past and culture that stems from our ancestry and race, but first and foremost, we are all Canadian. If you live here, realizing that is the first step to harmonization, whether you're of Aboriginal descent, Caucasian, or Sri Lankan.

Maintaining various customs and beliefs is one thing, but denying others rights, freedoms and safety as Canadians to advance a separate cause is an entirely different matter.

That is essentially why some people have a problem with Tamil protesters blocking a highway in Toronto and Six Nations protesters blocking Argyle Street in Caledonia.

It probably won't be citizens who will block the road this Sunday in Caledonia. It will be the police.

For the past three years people have attempted to raise a Canadian flag across from the Douglas Creek Estates site, an act of patriotism that is permitted under Canadian laws, but disallowed by police here due to safety concerns - ie. bullies on Douglas Creek Estates that they won't deal with.

Whether you agree or disagree with people trying to erect a Canadian flag this weekend, most rational thinkers would have to admit that these flag raisers do have a point, one that should highlight a flawed policing policy that is at the root of dysfunction here in Haldimand.

Simply putting down road blockades to perceived differences doesn't cut it. There's a fundamental flaw with such thinking and Canadianism and assimilation is what's lacking. People accept diversity instead of embracing unity and equality. It's why people believe that blocking roads is a viable way to solving land claims and affecting national policy.

It's because people see themselves as different that they often infer special rights. And as long as we continue to condone such actions, how can we ever expect children to learn right from wrong?

Bullying takes on different forms, whether it's a child being made fun of on a school playground, a group of people blocking a highway in Toronto, or a group of people stopping construction in Haldimand County.

A well-known entertainer from St. Thomas who came to Hagersville last week and travels to schools across Ontario to speak out about the bullying issue recognized individuality, and imparts the message that everyone can play a positive role in society using their own character.

But that's secondary to the fundamental message that we're all in the same boat and all have equal rights, no matter where our roots may be, no matter what we look like.

Contrary to popular belief, she said that bullying is often a product of overstated self-worth.

A symposium this week in Renton that's being facilitated by Haldimand-Norfolk REACH and the YMCA of Brantford is called "Better Together: The Benefits of a Diverse Community," which is somewhat of an oxymoron. While people can be different from one another, community is together, collective in the context of social values and responsibilities.

According to a press release, one in five Canadians will be a visible minority by 2017 and visible minorities will account for 85% of Canada's population growth.

The symposium will allow leaders, professionals and citizens "to discuss how we are collectively responding to the changing community needs and how we can foster increased inclusiveness within our organizations and communities."

This must be done realizing that we are more similar than we are different, at least when it comes to the rights and freedoms we have all come to enjoy.