When I was a high school student in Mexico, some of our classes had to do with the different characteristics of our North American neighbours, so I had some understanding on Canadian multiculturalism. However, I was pleasantly suprised in my visit to Vancouver when I basically didn’t feel like a foreigner there, as they’re very much used to people of varied appearance and culture, and their approach tends to be curious and inquisitive rather than hostile or uneasy.
There were three instances where their approach to multiculturalism showed through.
- The first one was on TV, where you had an Islamic preacher in one channel and a Christian in the next, both speaking English.
- Then they had a report in the CBC about their transmissions of the Stanley Cup, a quintessentially Canadian sports event… in Punjabi. I wondered if the Finnish Hockey World Cup games would ever be broadcast in Somali or, God spare me ;-), Russian.
- Finally, there was the Terry Fox Memorial at BC Place. What struck me was not only the story behind it, but the fact that their advertising includes the face of a girl of slightly Asian features. Given that Finnishness seems to be rooted in ethnicity that was a very refreshing, and at the same time sad detail, as I thought that in the end it would be easier for people like me to be Canadian than Finnish even though I’ve never even lived there. Somebody has to be the pioneer, though ;-).