Starting in 2003, the Canadian government began an annual tradition of honoring the country’s rich mix of cultures by designating June 27 as Canadian Multiculturalism Day. This June 27, mark the tenth anniversary of this national celebration by learning more about the diverse groups of people who call Canada home. How many of these activities can you fit into the day?
1. Start the day with a steaming bowl of pho.
Immigrants from Vietnam make up one of the largest non-European groups in Canada. Pho, a fragrant rice noodle broth served with fresh bean sprouts and basil leaves, is traditionally served for breakfast at roadside stalls in Vietnam. An affordable and filling meal, it’s now available all over Canada.
2. Pick up a book by one of Canada’s internationally recognized writers.
Discover the work of the Chinese-Canadian writer Wayson Choy, Indian-born author Rohinton Mistry, Jewish writer Mordecai Richler, or Sri Lankan-born author Michael Ondaatje. All have explored themes of multiculturalism in their work.
3. Watch a hockey game in Punjabi.
“Hockey Night in Canada,” a weekly broadcast by two Indian-Canadians, offers colorful commentary on N.H.L. games in the Indian dialect of Punjabi. The show has made the Canadian national sport accessible to older Indian immigrants, as other sports commentary shows are conducted in either French or English.
4. Try a new cuisine for lunch.
Ethnic food joints are abundant around Canada. Even many foods now considered traditionally Canadian have multicultural roots. So what’s lunch going to be – Nova Scotian donair kabob, a rappie pie, or maybe a Jiggs dinner?
5. Pop in a CD of First Nations traditional music.
Celebrating the cultural diversity in modern Canada requires recognizing the importance of song and dance to its original inhabitants. The indigenous people of Canada have created music from drums, rattles, clappers, and flutes for thousands of years. Music is sacred to First Nations people, but early European settlers forbade them from practicing their musical traditions. Their descendants in Canada today continue to use readily available material like wood and animal hide to build drums, animal horns to create drumsticks, and gourds to make rattles.
6. Browse a public movie collection online.
The National Film Board of Canada produces and distributes films on an extraordinarily diverse range of subjects in collaboration with filmmakers from all regions of Canada, including Aboriginal people. From documentaries to animation, the films explore social issues in Canada. Best of all, the NFB offers an online “screening room,” which allows the public to access more than 2,000 full-length movies over an Internet connection.
7. End the day with a Caesar (or three) and poutine.
Created in Calgary in 1969 in honor of a new Italian restaurant, the Caesar cocktail is rarely recognized outside Canada. It’s made with vodka, tomato juice, clam juice, Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce, and usually served with lime and a celery stick in a celery-salt-rimmed glass. If necessary, dive into a plate of poutine to forestall any queasiness. This Quebecois fast food, made with French fries smothered in beef gravy and sprinkled with cheese curd, is believed to counter the effects of too much drink. It’s also a quintessentially Canadian food, a pile-up of cultural influences that, against all odds, ends up tasting pretty good.
Ultimately, Canadian Multiculturalism Day provides an opportunity to try new things that would otherwise lie outside your experience. Whether you try one of these activities or all seven, the goal is to discover something new about yourself or your countrymen.
Which cultural influences will inspire your Canadian Multiculturalism Day? Leave a comment below!