Volume 5, Issue 7, July 2006
NICE PLACE THIS CANADA!
I am currently chair of the Mayor’s Committee on Community and Race Relations in St. Catharines and our committee had the opportunity to host a Citizenship Court on Canada Day at city hall. A special thanks to Rochelle who chaired the day and the rest of the committee for a great event.
There were 31 people who received their Canadian Citizenship. They hailed from all parts of the world and the interesting thing that was pointed out by Judge Robert Morrow was that they all chose to come to Canada.
The ceremony and the range of the new citizens renewed my faith in Canada as the best country in the world to live in. I constantly hear people complaining about the government, high taxes, graffiti, busy highways, crime and sometimes really nothing except to complain. The gratifying thing is that in Canada, everyone has the right to say just about anything they want about the country, the government and its people without getting shot or going to jail.
During the ceremony, everyone in attendance was encouraged to say the Oath of Citizenship, so along with the new Canadians, many of us raised our right hand and repeated the Oath of Citizenship in both official languages. Quite a feeling!
The judge reminded those in attendance that he understood that while many chose to leave their country of origin freely, many had no choice but to leave or be killed. Try and get this concept imbedded deeply into your mind. Can you imagine having to take the members of your family (young and old) and sneak out of your home with just the cloths on your back and make your way to a strange country just so you and your family can survive?
The lesson in this edition of the Caravan is simply not taking this country for granted. Look around you and see all that you have and all that this wonderful country has to offer. There were no armed guards or tanks present during the proceedings even though the mayor and politicians from every level of local government were there. There was only one RCMP officer, not even police for security. That is because we are and feel safe in Canada.
Look around and see how you can get involved and how you can make Canada a better place to live, work and play. The next time you see a newcomer, congratulate them for choosing Canada and welcome them as your neighbour. Keep in mind that except for the First Nations People, we and our forefathers were all newcomers to Canada and it was the freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom to be who you were meant to be that welcomed all to these shores.
As Judge Morrow said, “Unlike the U.S., Canada is not a melting pot and Canada is truly multicultural and Canada celebrates and values the different cultures that make up the Canadian mosaic.”
Nice place this Canada!
By Pierre R. Ouellette Hon.B.A., LL.B.
“Civilization is to be judged by its treatment of minorities.” – Mahatma Gandhi
When the worth of a person is called into question because they do not share our appearance, our social practices or our beliefs, then the stage is set for inequality and injustice. The need for laws to counter this behaviour and to protect rights grows out of the value we now place on creating and maintaining a society free from discrimination. As a result the protection of human rights has become arguably the global issue of the century!
Policy and legislative responses such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Canadian Carter of Rights & Freedoms and Ontario’s Human Rights Code, demonstrate a growing commitment to the equitable and humane treatment of all people. Human rights law in Canada and in Ontario provides protection for members of specific groups. These laws are in place in order to assure the right to full participation in our society.
The Ontario Human Rights Code confers upon everyone in the province equal rights and opportunities without discrimination in such specific areas as jobs, housing and services. The Code’s goal is to prevent discrimination and harassment because of race colour, sex, handicap and age, to name just some of the many grounds. I propose to take a closer look at the workings of the Code in upcoming editions of Sidebar. To that end I invite you to send me whatever anecdotes or questions you may have in the area. I will try to incorporate or address these in my upcoming presentations. You can email me directly at Pierre@CooperativeAction.com .
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