Happy Canada Day! Last week's Ottawa Citizen Ask the Religion Experts question asked, "What does Canada mean to you?"
WSO's Balpreet Singh's response is below. Answers from other faith perspectives can be found here.
To me, most of all, Canada represents how diversity, acceptance and freedom can come together to create a society that is the envy of the world.
Canada is a refreshing oasis of diversity at its best. The recent census results showed that one in five people living in Canada is a visible minority and there are now several municipalities where visible minorities are in fact the majority. But all across Canada, regardless of our differences, we live together as friends and neighbours.
While many critics in the rest of the world have called multiculturalism a failed experiment or simply unworkable, Canada has shown how it can and does work.
The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which enshrines the “preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians,” is itself the reason why. As Canadians, the Charter establishes a set of common values that we all can agree upon.
As Canadians, we believe in the rights protected in the Charter such as freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and freedom of association. When the rights and freedoms of any Canadian are challenged, we as Canadians have a strong tradition of rising to the collective defence.
The recent controversy over the banning of the turban by the Quebec Soccer Federation illustrated to me the best of what Canada is. Even though the ban affected a small group of Sikh boys in Quebec, the support they received from all across Canada was phenomenal.
I was particularly moved by the examples of the Montreal family whose children decided to withdraw from soccer until their Sikh friends could also play and that of the soccer team from Brossard which donned head coverings in solidarity.
That solidarity and friendship played a major role in lifting the ban so Sikh children in Quebec could once again join their friends on the pitch. And that solidarity and friendship is what truly makes Canada great.