A Winnipeg psychologist who has been vocal about the city’s multiculturalism says a tweet from a Transcona school is a step in the right direction.
The tweet – from Bernie Wolfe Community School principal Elizabeth Linton – showed students participating in Christmas, Diwali, Chinese New Year, and Kolyada celebrations as part of a campaign to “celebrate everything.”
“We’re working hard at Bernie Wolfe Community School @RETSDschools to #IncludeEveryone and #CelebrateEverything,” Linton’s tweet said.
That type of multiculturalism is exactly what Dr. Rehman Abdulrehman has been advocating for.
“I’ve been harping on this issue for a very, very long time,” he told 680 CJOB. “People don’t always reject it, but people don’t always follow through with it. And when it is, there’s a sense of tokenism on how it happens.
“This is gone beyond tokenism, this is the actual celebration of different holidays.
“This is beginning to celebrate everything at the same level. This is Canada.”
Abdulrehman said having diversity and practising multiculturalism are not always the same.
“The fact that Canada is an Indigenous country suggests we’ve always had that diversity here. Have we practised multiculturalism? I’d say we haven’t. We may have the presence of different people, but (it’s about) how much we pull those people into our culture and celebrate that.”
Adulrehman said in his role as a public speaker, he’s seen similar programs, but not to this extent. There have also been recent attempts at inclusivity by high-profile organizations, like the Winnipeg Jets and Manitoba Moose, who celebrated Indigenous culture at recent games by inviting local youth choirs to sing O Canada in both Ojibwe and Cree.
“I was excited to see that,” he said.
“Ultimately, this all comes down to a sense of belonging and ‘Who are we as Canadians?’
Adulrehman said Canada should be proud of being a diverse group of people and continue to “move from being multi-ethnic – just the simple presence of people – to being multicultural, where we pull in people, we pull in their cultures, and it all becomes a part of who we are.”
“What’s happening now is that any time it becomes tokenistic, any time it becomes patronizing, people from those communities are always the other, and as long we have the other, we have hate, we have discrimination, we have ignorance, and that’s where we try to resolve all of this, by making the other a part of us.”