Glad to Be on Prairie Side of Canadian Contradiction

By Elbakri, Idris | Winnipeg Free Press, December 3, 2013 | Go to article overview

Glad to Be on Prairie Side of Canadian Contradiction


Elbakri, Idris, Winnipeg Free Press


Almost a decade ago, my family and I made Canada our home, I have only doubted this choice on the few days every year when the temperature in Winnipeg went below -40 C.

Other than that, as our family settled, worked, as our children were born and as they grew up, as they attended public schools, as we bought a house in old St. Vital, and as our network of neighbours, teachers, doctors, and grocery stores expanded, we felt this was home. I have travelled to different parts of Canada, from Montreal to Victoria and up to Nunavut.

There is always this feeling of things being familiar yet new, inclusive yet unique. Whenever our family travelled overseas to visit extended family and friends, there was always that sigh of relief at the sight of the Canadian customs and immigration officers who greeted us as we landed back home.

I know Canada is not perfect and has its share of contradictions and injustice. Certain aspects of its history are troubling. I find myself crying when I hear stories of residential school survivors. The conditions of our First Nations in some parts of Canada are a national disgrace. Yet, Canada, as a vibrant democracy, has the power to reform and improve itself and extend its promise of human rights, equality and good-old Canadian politeness to anyone who sets foot on its shores.

Democracies, however, can and do regress. When people are gripped by the politics of fear, when they perceive differences as threats and when they are insecure in their own identities, they can allow things to happen that their moral compass would otherwise forbid.

One such regression is Bill 60, the proposal to ban religious symbols from Quebec's public sphere.

Any way you look at this proposed ban, it does not hold up to simple logic and common sense. If the aim is to liberate hijabi women from the oppressive veil, then this is the worst form of "white man's burden. …

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