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Too frequently, public debate on immigration revolves around the negative effects of immigration’dilution of domestic culture and the many immigrant cultures’instead of on its positive effects. Immigration creates diverse societies in which different cultures collide and create something new. This is the most exciting part of having a heterogeneous society rather than a homogeneous society. We should celebrate these collisions, not fear them. It might be difficult at times to have another culture challenge your cultural norms and assumptions, but it is rarely harmful. From challenge comes growth.
For instance, the different cultures that exist in Vancouver influence newcomers in many ways. This does not mean newcomers completely lose their culture in the face of these new cultures. On the contrary, newcomers keep their cultural practices and understandings and combine them with the new ideas and cultures they come across. Rather than losing their original culture, newcomers build on their culture and gain new perspectives that they might not have otherwise seen.
Immigration enriches domestic culture in the same way. Instead of Canadian culture becoming diluted and lost, as we hear posited far too often, it becomes more understanding and more diverse. Just as much of the immigrant’s original culture stays with them, so do the worthwhile underpinnings of Canadian culture as well. On top of those underpinnings, though, we build new ideas of what Canadian culture can be. In Vancouver, for example, you can spend a weekend going to a hockey game on Friday, shopping and eating at the Punjabi Market on Saturday, and then spend the afternoon at the Richmond Night Market on Sunday. I would take that over homogeneity any day.
Culture is not a static thing. It is ever-changing. That does not mean that we should not try to conserve some of our cultural traditions that we hold dear. Tradition can be one of the best things about life. But when we try to keep our cultures from changing or growing at all, we do ourselves a great disservice. Certainly, change and growth are not always easy processes. The road to cultural understanding and fusion is slow and fraught with tension, strife, and many other difficulties. But not many things really worth doing in life are easy.