Celebrate our cultural differences

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Public Forum: Shaheen Ashraf

The melting pot?

Celebrate our cultural differences

What a beautiful country we live in. One just has to walk out of the house to see the different faces of people.

We all intermingle and make this country of ours unique. We come from all over the world to make a wonderful life here. We give and we get. What an opportunity! It was this opportunity that brought my family of six (my husband, my four children and myself), here 31 years ago in 1976 (René Lévésque was leading the Parti Québécois). Yet, my children went to an English school, as both my husband and I had done our schooling in English. We flourished in this multicultural environment. Never did we see discrimination of any kind. We were free to choose how we dressed, what we believed in, etc., etc., as long as we were good citizens. This is exactly how I grew up in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), amongst all kinds of religions, never having the feeling of being different, celebrating and respecting each other’s beliefs. This is what made me comfortable here in my new home. Fast forward to 2007, things have changed. Someone asked me just the other day, “Why do you think discrimination is happening today?” For instance, take the Hijab/soccer issue, take the Hijab/taekwondo issue. Take the Hérouxville ‘reasonable accommodation’ issue, to name a few. I had no answer for him. It seems just yesterday that we were all happy about being here and intermingling in this society, keeping our beliefs and our cultures intact, yet embracing the culture of our adopted country. Let us not destroy this beautiful melting pot of ours. Let us celebrate these differences and keep a dialogue going. — Shaheen Ashraf, a Pointe Claire resident, is a member of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women.

Organizations: Parti Québécois, English school, Canadian Council of Muslim Women

Geographic location: East Pakistan, Pointe Claire

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