As you flip through the calendar, you can’t help but notice there are a lot of “recognition weeks.”
These are weeks (sometimes days, sometimes months) set up to recognize or raise awareness for special causes and events.
The week of Nov. 13 to 19 is one of my favourites every year— Multiculturalism Week in British Columbia.
Why celebrate multiculturalism? Multiculturalism is an everyday fact of life for British Columbians and Canadians.
But we should never forget that “everyday fact of life” is actually quite extraordinary.
We celebrate multiculturalism precisely because it’s an everyday fact of life for those of us fortunate enough to live here.
Because peoples from many cultures, backgrounds and traditions living side by side in harmony is something to celebrate. Because we have found that our diversity is perhaps our greatest strength. Because our everyday way of life so remarkable.
In many respects, it’s actually quite wonderful that this has become normal. You don’t have to pay close attention to international headlines to see just how fortunate we are.
To my mind, there are two main reasons to celebrate multiculturalism: the support for new British Columbians, and how it enriches and enlivens our communities.
Let’s consider what multiculturalism does for new British Columbians first.
Each year, B.C. welcomes more than 40,000 new immigrants from around the world.
One of the many reasons immigrants choose to move to Canada is that they can find communities that already feel like home.
That’s precisely why organizations like the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club are so valuable.
Last weekend, the Italian Club celebrated its 45th anniversary.
That’s 45 years of carrying Italian cultural traditions, promoting the Italian language and culture, through food, music, and wine.
The club was founded in 1966 by 21 proud Italian Canadians. In 1998, the Club purchased their current home, the Clubhouse, on Lawrence Avenue.
The Kelowna Canadian Italian Club is far more than just a social club.
They support cultural groups like the Italian Youth Dancers, and National Congress of Italian Canadians, but also support causes like the B.C. Summer Games, Variety Club—and raising funds for earthquake victims in Italy and Japan.
The provincial government is doing a lot to mark Multiculturalism Week, including the launch of The B.C. Peoples Book, and the Provincial Nesika Awards, which honour and celebrate British Columbia’s cultural diversity and indigenous communities.
If you’re interested —or even just a proud British Columbian— I encourage you to find out more at www.embracebc.ca.
I was proud and honoured on Saturday to help the Kelowna Canadian Italian Club celebrate 45 years making Kelowna an even better place to live —which brings me to the second reason to celebrate multiculturalism.
From different cultural perspectives down to new and exciting cuisines, it has enriched our cities and towns immeasurably.
Good food, delicious wine, and great company. Who wouldn’t want to celebrate that?
Steve Thomson is the Liberal MLA for Kelowna-Mission.