November 19, 2018

BY SARAH VEENSTRA

Is the niqab debate unveiling something greater than the temporary removal of a headdress? We think so.

In recent weeks, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper struck a cord with Canadian citizens by asking that niqabs be banned for public servants and those taking citizenship ceremony oaths.

Non-Muslim Canadians are also weighing in, arguing the niqab could be used by terrorists, and not just by Muslims who are using it as a declaration of their religious beliefs and a way for women to be modest.

As Canadians, we define ourselves as multicultural.

It’s the one commonality that Canadians can agree upon to define our culture; that we have more than one (besides hockey, beer and your local Tim Hortons.)

We pride ourselves on being different from those with whom we share a border; we are more worldly and more accepting.

We condemn the United States for being a melting pot; taking all who enter and churning them into small soldiers with a united front.

Multiculturalism by Canada’s definition is the equal celebration of racial, religious and cultural backgrounds.

However, the theory may be better executed than the action.

According to Statistics Canada’s 2011 data, we have over 200 ethnic groups in Canada, making up 22.1 million people, just over two-thirds of Canada’s population.

Yet, do those 200 cultures interact with one another?

Do we live in segregation? Toronto, for example, is easily the most multicultural city in Canada, yet many of these immigrants live in Chinatown, Little Italy and so on. Arguably the millennials may be the first generation to obliterate this segregation.

According to Environics Analytics, they’ve grown up alongside the highest number of visible minorities Canada’s ever seen – 25 per cent. Can this acceptance be attributed to an abandonment of religious beliefs?

Environics Analytics found a second highest number for Canadians – 31 per cent don’t affiliate themselves with any religion.

Yet, what does the millenials’ laissez-faire attitude mean for multiculturalism? Are millennials finally able to make Canada a true multicultural country or are they doing what we’ve fought against from the beginning?

The real question is, is the removal of the niqab a step forward or backward as a country and culture?

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.

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