Multiculturalism and Reasonable Accommodation - It’s as Canadian as a Kilt or a Hijab

When you invite friends over do you ever serve food that their religion forbids them to eat. If you go to a wedding of someone of another faith do suggest they should be married in a “Canadian” church. If neighbours invite you to a cultural celebration do you complain about their foreign customs. Of course not, because that would be impolite and certainly not the Canadian way. That is essentially the spirit of “reasonable accommodation” practiced at the personal level.

So why does something that is so natural on a personal level become so controversial on a societal level.

Recent census results indicate that currently there are just over one million aboriginal people in this country. The rest of us are immigrants, or descendants of immigrants. We come from all over the world and we are what makes Canada the wonderful country that it is.

Certainly, due to history, certain groups have become more dominant and certain customs more ingrained in our way of life than others. For example we have a government based on the British Parliamentary system and Christian religious holidays enshrined in statute law. But we are also strengthened by adding the customs of newer Canadian to our way of life.

Canada is a multicultural country that is only strengthened by the many customs and cultures of the people that immigrated to this country to become Canadians. Multiculturalism means that not only do we allow immigrant groups to maintain their customs but also share them with them.

So what is “reasonable accommodation”. Leonard Stern, writing in The Ottawa Citizen, said it best:

Ode to a sales clerk

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