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Opinion: Squamish: A multicultural town to come

Canada is already a multicultural country by law.
Sessions coming in January 2022
Habib Ly, a Squamish resident who works for the department of community development and outreach at the Squamish Welcome Centre.

Where I am from — Mauritania and Senegal in West Africa — immigrants are considered the backbone of families. They help provide basic needs for their relatives and bring about positive progress in their communities.

For many years, people have decided to leave their countries of origin to join what they dream is the land of opportunities, freedom, and liberties in Canada.

As is the case of most mid-sized and small towns, Squamish has less experience encountering immigrants and newcomers.

Citizens of small towns are more likely to keep close to their small families, groups of acquaintances, neighbours, and simply people they know and grew up with.

This tends to be a common mindset or mentality in an overwhelming number of small towns in Canada.

Nonetheless, Squamish is on the edge of an increase in population, which began with organizing the Olympics back in 2010 and that continues.

Many other immigrants and I have recently discovered the great town of Squamish and decided to make it home.  

As newcomers, the challenges are real as it is hard to belong culturally and feel somehow related.

It is hard to be a visible minority pretending to fit into a totally alien culture.

Most immigrants bring their cultures with them, and that itself carries a lot with it.

Culture is the identity of people and, certainly, what existence means to them.

Squamish is a potential cultural hub as it is the number one recreational town in Canada.

The weather is surely friendlier to everyone compared to many other places in the country. Many immigrants will be happier settling in Squamish and beginning their new life journey.

Squamish needs very defined cultural venues. Venues that could host cultural events along with facilities that could serve multicultural purposes such as organizing events about cultural exchanges, meeting and greeting others from different cultures and customs, and more.

Canada is already a multicultural country by law. This means citizens of Squamish should not be confused about it.

We need to talk! Yes, that statement might sometimes be intimidating; however, it’s always good to talk. Yet, talking means having a conversation, and that means one approaching another and trying to figure out how to co-exist and move towards a common path. We should acknowledge each other as humans, embrace the good in us, and then work through our differences.

We must empower each other by talking kindly, spreading smiles, and supporting one another for the greater good. That is citizens’ duty —  to lead by guiding the newcomers and immigrants towards a better life and brighter future.

Let’s sit together around a circle and have a conversation! How are we going to make Squamish a multicultural town that attracts all cultures of Canada?

This is where to begin and later we can figure out ways to initiate projects and programs which enhance the path towards a solid multicultural town and city to come.

Habib Ly is a Squamish resident and Capilano University instructor, project manager and program developer who works in partnership with the Squamish Welcome Centre.

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