Wednesday, 30 June 2010

It's the Diversity that Makes our Country Great!

Canada's greatest strength has always laid in its diversity, yet it was only a few decades ago that Pierre Trudeau opened immigration to allow for true multiculturalism. Perhaps the wait was a good thing, because we are fortunate that rather than becoming a "melting pot" where cultural identity is lost, we have become a cultural mosaic in which we have grown into a globally minded national community. Tolerant is not the right word, because it isn't that we just "put up with" differences among our people, but rather that we celebrate the richness that such diversity brings.
Of course, there are those among us who think differently, and it is clear that we still have quite a long way to go before such ideals are a reality for every Canadian, but I would argue that although the going is slow, and we suffer setbacks now and then, that on the whole, we are headed in the right direction and I have faith that we will in fact get there, if not in my lifetime, then most definitely in the lifetime of my children.

And while I'm discussing diversity, it it worth mentioning that 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity.

If you're like me, when you hear the word "biodiversity" you immediately think of the Amazonian Rainforest. But I'd like you to turn your thoughts closer to home (assuming you live in Canada--if not, turn them northward for this post).

Canada is a vast country that has it all--tundra and rainforest, prairies and mountains, wetlands, lakes and ocean vistas. We have boreal forests that span the country and more fresh water than any other country on the planet. Unfortunately, we also tend to lack an appreciation for what we have, and have shown an alarming tendency to pillage it in the name of profits.

Recently though, there have been some very favourable signs of hope that we are starting to appreciate and value the land, waterways and oceans and the flora and fauna.

A significant conservation agreement was recently ratified by a group of forestry companies and environmental groups in order to protect a vast amount of Canadian boreal forest. This agreement means everything for the native caribou who now stand a much more favourable chance of recovering in numbers. It is also important for the innumerable other boreal species whose habitat will be saved.

If that wasn't enough for some of us, the Queen Charlotte Islands, now renamed back to Haida Gwaii, has been named as Canada's first Nat'l Marine Conservation Area Reserve. This is important because it is the first time Canada has created a protected area that spans both land and sea.

We may have a long way to go, but we're headed in the right direction!

Oh Canada, Glorious and free!
Boreal forests, old-growth pines, coastal rainforests--I stand on guard for thee!
Diversity, global vision, basic human rights--I stand on guard for thee!