I make a lot of hay on this blog by pointing out negative things in Canada, the country I love. As a blog about race and racism (with some gay shit sprinkled in there for flavour), I go out of my way to find, illustrate and criticize things that happen here that are to the detriment of minority groups. Reading my writings here, some may walk away with the impression that I think that Canada is a particularly bad place to be a person of colour (PoC), a gay person, a woman, or member of another disadvantaged group. This is simply not true.
Part of the reason I am so passionate about Canada and the issues facing Canadians is because I recognize that our country has the overwhelming potential to model positive values to the entire world. Perhaps uniquely, Canada is making the experiment of multiculturalism work and has found a way to maintain a level of civility and understanding that transcends any kind of formal legal protection, but that has simply become a feature of our national identity. How could I approach such an important issue with anything less than my full attention and fervor?
However, all the doom and gloom that I cast around may serve to distract from the fact that Canada is a really amazing country:
Canadians are hard-working, great readers, the most tolerant people in the developed world, and enjoy more “positive experiences” than everyone but Icelanders, according to a new analysis of social trends released here Tuesday. “At 84 per cent on average, Canadians report the highest community tolerance of minority groups — ethnic minorities, migrants, and gays and lesbians — in the OECD, where the average is 61 per cent,” the report said. Residents of the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and the Nordic countries were among the most tolerant, while those in southern and eastern Europe, as well as Japan and Korea, were less tolerant.
This is something to celebrate – among countries in the developed world, Canada still stands out as a place where minority groups are, by and large, respected and tolerated. The kinds of racial strife and discord that seem to run rampant in many developing countries (particularly those in the Middle East and Africa) are completely foreign to us, and aren’t likely to degenerate to Rwanda or Bosnia levels ever. We should be happy about this.
However, and I cannot stress this enough, we should not be satisfied. It’s wonderful that we’re at the top of the OECD, but racial and cultural tolerance are not a competition. We are not trying to win the “world’s nicest people” award, at least we shouldn’t be. And while accolades are nice, it is dangerous to judge our successes by the failures of others – downward comparisons are a bitch.
While we are doing very well, we can still do better. By highlighting and discussing the issues that I do, I am trying my best to keep these conversations from getting swept under the rug of complacency. There are many areas to improve, and by doing so we can show the rest of the world how they can make the same improvements.
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Having walked an Indian guy to his car a couple of nights ago, to assist him against an impossibly racist bunch of school-age hoodlums, I must say I’m quite surprised to see Australia on that list. As positive as this article was, I find it generally depressing that we’re considered “one of the good ones”.