Canada well worth celebrating despite tensions over racism, alienation
July 1, 2021
By Vancouver Sun |
It’s been a rough year and a half in Canada, with emotions running high and negative.
And not only because COVID fears and restrictions have hiked the proportion of Canadians who say they’re depressed, anxious and feeling increasingly suspicious toward each other.
On top of the pandemic, Canadian news media have been dominated by hard stories about the unmarked grave sites of Indigenous residential-school students dating back to the 1890s, a horrifying car attack on a Muslim family in Ontario and a sudden COVID spike last year in anti-Asian hate crime.
Some politicians and activists have responded with cultural self-recrimination. They’ve torn down statues of Canada’s first prime minister, John A. Macdonald. Catholic churches have been vandalized. A city council or two have decided to not celebrate on July 1. On always-divisive Twitter, #CancelCanadaDay trended.
Going only from the headlines, you’d conclude Canada is unusually full of hate, division, racism and systemic racism (unconscious bias within institutions).
But, away from the high-profile accusations, what does the data suggest about Canada? And what do we learn from taking a more global perspective?
An Angus Reid poll this week captures Canadians’ unease. Thirty-four per cent believe “Canada is a racist country.” But a larger proportion, 41 per cent, believe “people who see discrimination where it does not exist is a bigger problem for the country.”
Do these poll results suggest dangerous fragmentation in Canada? Or healthy diversity of opinion? Or both? They certainly show we’re not monolithic, nor particularly cohesive.