Tag Archives: niqab

Maybe Canada is a melting pot afterall?

19 Mar

For as long as I can remember, we have used the word “mosaic” to describe the way people can keep their cultural beliefs and traditions when they come to Canada to live.
This is in contrast to our neighbours to the south, who have been referred to as the “melting pot” – a place where you leave your culture at the door and become American.

However, I’ve been wondering if we still truly deserve the description we feel so strongly (and maybe, to be honest, a bit superior) about. Here are a few things that “make me go hmmmm”:
The Quebec judge’s refusal to hear a woman’s case because she was wearing the hijab. And the lack of repercussions.
The Federal Government wanting to challenge the Supreme Court’s decision overturning a ban on the wearing of the niqab for citizenship ceremonies.
And this week, Ontario MP Larry Miller’s words: “stay the hell where you came from.”
– all examples of Islamophobia, by the way.

Maybe the only difference between Canada and the USA is that they admit that they want people to assimilate, while we still hold firm to the illusion that we are a mosaic that welcomes all people as they are.

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copyright 2015 Annemarie Shrouder
Speaker and facilitator on issues of Diversity and Inclusion.


The niqab and Canadian citizenship

14 Dec

I first heard Immigration Minister Jason Kenney on the radio on Monday night, talking about his decision that women wearing a niqab must show their faces during the citizenship ceremony in order. I couldn’t believe my ears when he used the fact that women are required to be unveiled when they participate in the Hajj. ‘Really Jason?’ I thought. ‘You’re comparing a religious pilgrimage to a citizenship ceremony?!’
I had to shake my head.

Surely there is some way to have women wearing a niqab verify their identity in private with a female before entering the room for the ceremony. Seems like a perfectly reasonable compromise to me. In fact, when I checked with a friend who is an Ontario Human Rights Commissioner, that is exactly what happens at airports.  So…?

When I read the article in the Toronto Star, I was stunned when I came across the following: “This is not simply a practical measure. It is a matter of deep principle that goes to the heart of our identity and our values of openness and equality,” Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Monday as he announced the changes in Montreal.

I don’t know about you, but to me, “values of openness and equality” mean that we recognize difference, acknowledge people’s needs, and find ways to make it work. That’s what diversity and inclusion is all about. This  decision is the antithesis of openness and equality.

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Copyright 2011 Annemarie Shrouder
author, speaker and facilitator on issues of diversity and inclusion

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