Confronting terror with history and diversity

Jagmeet Singh Speaking After Confrontation with Protester - Sept 6, 2017

A people without the knowledge of their past, origin and culture is like a tree without roots” — Marcus Garvey

Radical elements want to insulate and isolate themselves from people they consider outsiders. They spread hate and intolerance through misinformation. These outsiders they say cause all the problems. They are rapists, drug dealers, terrorists and mooches. They don’t share our values, they look different, they smell and they eat different food. This misinformation leads to horrible acts of terrorism like the recent killing of 50 Muslims in New Zealand.

The people committing acts of hate and terror including their supporters and apologists have no understanding of history. Canada was built on immigration and continues to be. Our country would not exist otherwise.

People crossed the Bearing Strait over 40,000 years ago and flourished until 1497 when John Cabot “found” the land we now call Canada. Samuel De Champlain set up a French outpost in Acadia and brought with him the first recorded black man in Canada, Mathieu de Costa. The French established colonies and outposts, Coureur de Bois (runners of the woods) mingled with local indigenous tribes, their offspring called Metis. French rule was sub planted by the British and a large Black Colony was established in Nova Scotia after fleeing the 13 colonies during the war of Independence.

Scots started to arrive in large numbers in the 1770’s. Chinese stared to arrive in Canada in 1858 during the Gold Rush and helped build the Canadian Pacific Railroad. Sikhs arrived in the late 1800’s and settled mostly in BC. Muslims started arriving in the mid 1850’s. Doukhobors arrived in 1899 fleeing from Russian persecution. South Asians, Italians, Germans, Portuguese, Spanish, they all came to Canada to make a better life for themselves and their children. They contribute to the vibrant fabric we now enjoy.

Prior to the 1970’s, immigrants from European countries accounted for over three-quarters of those coming to Canada. Today, over three-quarters of immigrants to Canada come from non-European countries, often defined as visible minorities. This growth has changed the nature of the vertical mosaic and the portrait of inequality in Canada.

We all share a similar journey regardless of when we or our ancestors arrived on this land. Understanding the history of Canada and it’s deep mosaic of cultures, races, colors and creeds is essential in combating the lunacy of intolerance and hate.

In 2018, Brampton Focus created Harmonize.ca to counter the negative stereotypes of immigrants in Peel Region and to share their history. The project was in response to a number of troubling incidents, including a protester at a Jagmeet Singh event in Brampton, an email interaction between a Brampton City Councillor and resident, and provocations with students regarding religious accommodation. In all of these situations, immigrants were being scapegoated as trying to change the values of Canada and taking the country backwards.

The story of immigrants in Canada is the story of success. The vast majority of newcomers come to work hard and raise families that contribute to our society. Watch the stories of 9 successful Women in Brampton that we recently profiled.

Are you interested in sharing the story of your diaspora group? Are you a member of a community that is disadvantaged or oppressed? Contact us to get your story shared on Harmonize. You will help to dispel myths and show the value of our diversity.

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