As Taber prepares to celebrate its second-annual National Indigenous Peoples Day at Confederation Park tomorrow, it marks another step in raising the awareness how much diversity rural Alberta actually has.
It is the second such celebration in Taber and comes on the heels of an Indigenous Foundation being formed in the area that is looking to make inroads into reconciliation in education, healing, program availability and a greater awareness of each other.
While still very much in its infancy, having only had a couple of meetings so far in its baby steps, the Indigenous Foundation has garnered support from the Town of Taber, M.D. of Taber, Taber Times, Safe Haven Women’s Shelter, Taber Equality Alliance, Horizon School Division, Taber Public Library, Taber and District Chamber of Commerce, members at large and Elders in the southern Alberta region.
Other recent initiatives like the Taber Police Service doing its Diversity SWOT Analysis which was a two-day focus group workshop conducted on and included individuals from the Taber Equality Alliance, Filipino Society of Taber, the First Nations-Metis-Inuit (FNMI) community, and the Low German Mennonite community has the police service itself recognizing the uniqueness of many of its citizenry.
Add on the recent celebration of Pride month and the Taber and District Learning’s Cultural Awareness Day, and it all amounts to something great in Canada, a nation built on similar values, yet featuring so much diversity that espouses those Canadian values.
Families that had been in Canada for less than 10 years were encouraged to attend TDCALA’s Cultural Awareness Day which featured professional development, a Taste of the World potluck, and a tradeshow of services and employment opportunities in our area at the Taber Community Centre Auditorium in late March.
It mirrored a very strong current trend with a recent study cited in the Globe and Mail showing approximately 20 per cent of current Canadians being foreign born.
So from National Indigenous Peoples Day which celebrates our earliest residents to our newcomers, Canada is a nation that thrives in its diversity and yet has always kept its base ideals that after survey after survey from many different sources, finds us in the top five, if not top three beloved nations on a world scale citing numerous different metrics.
“This is something we are able to do in this country, because we define a Canadian not by a skin colour or a language or a religion or a background, but by a set of values, aspirations, hopes and dreams that not just Canadians but people and the world share,” noted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a 2017 BBC article.
That type of attitude is making its way to rural Canada as well as Taber has shown in recent events, but there are still the holdouts who see this diversity as a threat with the wonderment of ‘why can’t they just fit in?”
Often spoken by people who simply want the comfort and security of the reflection they see in the mirror.
But as history has shown, that is a dangerous path to go on. Just ask the 150,000 Inuit and Metis children who were removed from their communities between 1840 and 1996, and sent to residential schools in order to assimilate them. Just ask elderly Japanese Canadians around the region how they were treated with that outlook during WW II.
With a nation that has such a large land mass and relatively small population in comparison to other nations, a protectionist attitude towards any outsider, be it interpretation of faith, skin colour, race, sexuality etc. is not how a nation is going to grow for the better.
Taking the time understanding our differences and embracing our uniqueness, sprinkling in the good and positive that every citizen can offer to strengthen Canada can help achieve the true reconciliation events like tomorrow’s National Indigenous Peoples Day hopes to achieve.
Only when we strive to get out of our comfort zone every once in awhile and recognize our differences do we find out at the best of our core that we are all truly the same in spirit.
Here is to hoping the southern Alberta region embrace’s National Indigenous Peoples Day and similar events that embraces all the uniqueness that is found in Canada’s borders that we can all learn from and enjoy.