Looking Both Ways

MC40_RoadLine_RedOrangeAs a secondary school administrator in Burnaby, BC, I’ve had extensive experience with students and their families from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. Some experiences have been humorous, some uplifting, and some disappointing.

On the positive side, I’ve been able to help steer families to needed community resources and have been the recipient of expressed gratitude by people who are thankful to be here in Canada, undertaking a new life as individuals or families. On the negative side, I have inappropriately been called a ‘racistfor helping people navigate the established guidelines and regulations of public education in British Columbia.

On the positive side again, I’ve been part of wonderful multicultural celebrations in school and taught a grade 11/12 course in comparative religions that brought diverse groups of students together in productive dialogue that has led to increased understanding and acceptance by all. On the negative side, I’ve witnessed attempts by members of specific cultural groups coming to BC to avoid integration with the larger culture on all levels. While this trend is in the minority, it is nevertheless disturbing. I’ve also seen students who have successfully duped their elders into thinking their bad behaviour was part of ‘the way they do things in Canada’.  Continuing and increased services to individuals and families are sorely needed if we are to maintain a healthy multicultural milieu among us.

- Steve in Coquitlam, BC