Culture and identity in Mosaic Canada

Black History Month Special Feature 

By VICKLYN R. FLEMING, Special to Connect Weekly

Vicklyn Rose

Vicklyn Rose

Canada has been one of the world’s largest immigrant-accepting countries since the 20th century. Within the last fifty years, there has had an influx of immigrants from around the world adding a cosmopolitan flavor to most major cities within the country. Unlike the USA, whose goal it to create a melting pot, Canada encourages unity through diversity and prides itself on its multicultural “Mosaic” society.

When I came to Canada forty plus years ago, I was overwhelmed by the size, pace and newness of it all. I felt very small and unsure of my place in this new land. How am I going to fit in, who are these Canadians and what is expected of me?

As everyone knows, adapting to any new situation – much more, a new country – can be stressful. Luckily, there was a thriving Caribbean community, willing and able to support me through the process. I felt less at a loss, and more comfortable with the knowledge that such a community exists, making the transitional period so much easier. I did not have to abandon one culture for another. I was able to have both.

The early years really brought home the role that my inherited culture played a role in defining who I am, my identity and a sense of belonging. I realized that one’s culture is knowledge – history, customs, food, dance, art and self-expression. I soon developed an understanding and great respect for Multiculturalism, which I experienced as a platform for sharing and assumed that every Canadian felt the same way.

The need to identify with someone/something is deeply inherent in us all, and sometimes this need to belong can lead us to make poor choices of friends and activities. However, on the positive side; identity, the expression of culture, customs and pride (when all blended together) can give us self worth and acceptance of others. With positive identity comes confidence, and the knowledge that there is so much to learn and share with each other.

I believe our cultural uniqueness should not only be celebrated only on special occasions, such as Canada Day or Black History Month. But, that it is incorporated into the educational curriculum. When we learn from each other, we soon realize that fundamentally our fears, hopes, dreams and aspirations are the same.

I believe our cultural uniqueness should not only be celebrated only on special occasions, such as Canada Day or Black History Month. But, that it is incorporated into the educational curriculum. When we learn from each other, we soon realize that fundamentally our fears, hopes, dreams and aspirations are the same.

As the need for global awareness and understanding (now more than ever) seems to be detrimental to all of our existence… Here in Canada, we have the opportunity to make global change by example.

By working together, being opened minded, and realizing that we each have something to contribute, we will be doing our part in actualizing the goals of Mosaic Canada.

Lest we forget that apart from the Indigenous People, Canada is a mosaic of immigrants – regardless of the various circumstances – we are all here.

WRITER BIO: Fleming migrated from the Island of Grenada to Toronto, ON with her family in 1972. She later relocated to Vancouver where she made her home, until moving to Fort McMurray three years ago. With an extensive background in journalism – from print to videography, Fleming was also one of the judges for Juno Awards’ reggae category in 1997. When time permits, she volunteers with the local organization Some Other Solutions.

– Connect Weekly –