It is through celebrating our differences that we come to appreciate our similarities.
It is heartening to see both how well the new Smithers Multicultural Society’s (SMS) first event was received and just how diverse the community has become.
Multiculturalism became an official policy in Canada in the 1970s and 1980s both for philosophical and practical reasons, but it has also always been just a historical fact.
Some of that history is, of course, shameful, but the work of acknowledgement and healing continues.
In practical terms, as a country, province and community, we rely on immigration for economic growth.
Philosophically, we can be proud of the fact a good deal of immigration has occurred on compassionate grounds. Most recently it has been persons displaced by the conflict in Syria.
With immigration comes new expressions in culture: art, music, cuisine, sport, dress.
It is important that we celebrate these things because in getting to know our neighbours, what we find is that our differences are superficial.
Celebrating diversity fosters respect and open-mindedness for other cultures, but also highlights our common interests, unites and educates us. It broadens our perspectives and enriches our life experience.
We all, after all, want the same things: family, health, security, peace, love, freedom, acceptance.
However we perceive these things, they are the core of our humanity and transcend skin colour, ethnicity, nationality, religion or lack thereof, physical ability, intellectual capacity, age, sexual orientation, gender identity.
We are fortunate in Smithers to have both the diversity and a new organization to channel it into the public sphere.
Unfortunately, they came along at kind of a bad time, but adapted to an online presentation as so many did. The video is still available on YouTube (linked on the SMS Facebook page).
We look forward to the time we can all get out and celebrate our diversity together.