Originally published August 30, 2021 YorkRegion.com
Immigrants are the lifeblood of any growing nation. They inject new life, fresh ideas, different dreams, and aspirations into the culture.
Some people complain that immigrants come to Canada and refuse to learn about the culture. Instead, they stick to their communities to recreate where they came from. Those same people often demand that new immigrants learn about and adopt “Canadian culture.”
They are fearful that immigrants will bring cultural norms from their own countries and damage or destroy Canadian culture. They believe that these existing norms are what made their society great, and any change will lead to weakness.
The opposite is true. A stagnant culture will eventually wane, weaken, and disappear. While it is important for a country to maintain its core cultural values, it is also important for it to recognize, acknowledge and accept the cultural values of its immigrant population.
When we last left the story, Rob, a new Canadian immigrant, was about to leave the Toronto-Caribbean community. He felt the need to truly experience Canada, booked a train ticket and travelled from Toronto to Edmonton.
He spent most of that trip in the viewing car. There he was lulled into a state of wonder by the consistent hum of the train, punctuated every so often by its haunting whistle. Captivated by the spectacular Canadian scenery, he was beginning to truly understand Canada’s beauty.
For the next five years, Rob would make Calgary his home. During that time, he maintained a wide circle of friends from various cultural backgrounds.
Scottish philosopher Alexander Tyler of the University of Edinburg noted eight stages of the rise and fall of civilizations. In Stage 6, titled “From Complacency to Apathy”, he talks about the loss of passion and lack of interest in the things that once inspired or animated the civilization.
He notes that in that stage, many people don’t see a need to work to contribute to the common good; instead, choosing to scavenge on the achievements of the past. I believe that a vibrant immigration policy can prevent this from happening.
Immigrants are not a drain on the society’s culture. If there is an unobstructed exchange of cultural values and an acknowledgement of the worthiness of diversity, then the existing culture will thrive.