“A Quilt, Not a Melting Pot” from FrontierScan, May 2009Apr 30th, 2009 | By PrayerUpdate | | Print This Post |
FrontierScan, May 2009, Keith Carey, Managing Editor
Condensed from the May 2009 issue of the Global Prayer Digest
Headlines: Canada: North America’s Beautiful Ethnic Quilt!
Dear Praying Friends,
About 15 years ago, I called a full-time mission mobilizer in Canada in hopes of finding out about the unreached people groups in his country. His feedback was clear: The research was not yet available.
Ever since that time, I have wanted to have the GPD focused on Canada. All I could do was wait.
Fortunately, due to information posted on the Internet by Multicultural Canada, (www.multiculturalcanada.ca), the wait is over.
This month we will pray for the unreached Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and Sikhs that have the chance to hear of Christ’s ways in their adopted country of Canada. That organization also provided good background information about how immigration has changed in that country over the years. Please take time to read the background article before praying over this issue.
Managing editor, GPD
Pray for a Strong Fellowship Among Every Ethnic Group in Canada
Canada: A Quilt, Not a Melting Pot
-by Keith Carey
Can you believe it; one in five people in Canada is foreign born! The only country with a higher percentage of immigrants is Australia, according to a Dec. 5, 2007 article in BBC News. Among these recent arrivals in this country of 33.5 million, nearly 60 percent come from Asia and the Middle East, the places where the vast majority of the world’s unreached peoples originate. Once again, we are seeing a situation where the unreached people groups are going where they have the opportunity to hear and respond to the life-changing ways of Christ.
The changes have been rapid and recent. Traditionally, Canada was a nation built upon both English and French language and culture. After the British drove the French out in 1759, they did allow the French language and culture to continue in Quebec, France’s former colony. Canadian governors James Murray and Guy Carleton refused to yield to pressures to Anglicize Quebec with British institutions, and the situation worked fairly well for many years, according to Multicultural Canada (www.multiculturalcanada.ca), the main source for this article. This was the beginning of the “pluralistic” ideal, where various cultures were allowed to exist side-by-side under the overall tent of the place we call Canada. By accommodating the large French minority, Canada developed very peaceably, considering what usually happens in such situations. The Quebec Act of 1774 and the British North America Act of 1867 built British-French pluralism into the Canadian constitution.
Canada remained part of the British Commonwealth well into the 20th century, but seldom did they have to accommodate cultures other than the French. There were Native American tribes that were conquered and pushed onto reservations, and many Canadians hoped that these tribes would eventually become like the White Canadians. As late as the 1960s, more than 70 percent of Canada’s immigrants came from Europe and the United States. There were also Chinese and Japanese immigrants, but their numbers were far too small to have any significant power. White, European-based peoples were given preference in immigration policies.
In the culturally-similar United States, the ideal for immigrants has always been that they be thrown in America’s “melting pot” where the best of all cultural attributes blend together, and the worst elements of all cultures will be purged. Though the British-based culture changes slightly, and becomes uniquely American, there is one dominant culture. Encouraging ethnic groups to remain unassimilated is thought to lead to disunity in this “melting pot” model. In Canada, on the other hand, the ideal is cultural “pluralism” where various cultures live side by side with mutual respect and harmony. Loyalty is given to Canada, but ethnic differences remain. Traditionally, with only two cultures to deal with, this was not difficult. But what would the Canadians do if they had to accommodate multiple cultures and languages? They are in the process of dealing with that question in today’s world.
Pluralism Becomes Official in the 1970s
The first year when a majority of immigrants to Canada were of non-European heritage was in 1971. That same year, the pluralistic, multi-cultural ideal was sanctioned by the Canadian government. When Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau addressed Canada’s House of Commons, he affirmed the federal government’s recognition and commitment to a policy of multiculturalism. “There is no official culture, nor does any ethnic group take precedence over any other. No citizen or group of citizens is other than Canadian, and all should be treated fairly,” he said to the enthusiastic legislators. Though English and French would still be the two national trade languages, ethnic pluralism was declared to be a positive feature of Canadian life, worthy of development and preservation.
Some people wrongly thought this would mean the federal government would shower ethnic community organizations with money, but this was not the intention. Small amounts of tax money have been used for this purpose, but the ethnic groups usually have to fund their own organizations.
Canada Loves Refugees
The Canadian public and government have a soft spot for persecuted minorities and refugees. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Canadian government took in political refugees from Czechoslovakia and Hungary who found themselves on the outs with the domineering Soviet government. In the late 1970s, when South Asians were fleeing for their lives from Idi Amin’s Ugandan army, Canada took in many of them. In 1978, Canada recognized refugees as a class distinct from other immigrants, worthy of legal protection and entitled to sanctuary. From that year forward, Canada’s immigration policy was changed to make way for a percentage of refugees each year. By the end of 1980, Canada agreed to take in 60,000 Southeast Asian refugees from the aftermath of the wars that gave communism domination in that region.
To this day, Canada is a practical leader in celebrating World Refugee Day. Last year, they took in 1,300 persecuted Karen refugees from Myanmar, and 2,000 Iraqi refugees. Canada is currently taking in refugees from Bhutan and Nepal who are suffering from violence in those Himalayan nations. Antonio Guterres, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said last June, “Through their generous support for the world’s uprooted people, Canadians have shown not only humanitarian concern but a recognition of the enormous contributions that refugees can make to their new communities.” But the situation isn’t always rosy; many non-refugees have attempted to obtain refugee status to gain priority. With the world economy in the doldrums, many Canadians question the wisdom of taking in more immigrants, even those with legitimate refugee status.
The Situation Today
Cultural pluralism sounds good at a distance, but there are real challenges on a day-to-day level. For example, the Canadian Islamic Congress demanded that Maclean, a Canadian magazine, publish their rebuttal to an article that they deemed offensive. The Islamic group tried but failed to get the Canadian government to force them to print their rebuttal, according to a Jan. 6, 2008 article by Randall Palmer.
According to an Aug. 14, 2006 article found on Bolojii.com, marriages between Canada’s younger generation of Hindus and the majority people are on the rise. These marriages are done without the blessing of Hindu parents, which is anathema in Hindu cultures where parents formerly arranged marriage for their children. Hindus fear losing their cultural identity. Will Canada become a melting pot like their neighbors to the south? Only time will tell.
Since 1985, 60 percent of Canada’s new arrivals have been non-Europeans, mainly from nations with high concentrations of unreached people groups. What will the future hold for them? Will they assimilate into Canada’s culture, which is a blend of secular humanism and Christian values of human rights? The Hindu youth mentioned above could easily slip into a pattern where family needs matter far less than individual freedom. In a secularized culture, individual desires trump the biblical values of “putting others before yourself.” Will Canada’s Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist groups see Christian values, or secular humanist values at work? That will depend on whether or not believers reach out to them.
Let us Pray!
Pray that Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim peoples in Canada will hear and respond to the life-giving claims of Jesus Christ.
The Lord of the harvest is bringing thousands of Nepali people to North America. Are we ready?
Bhutan is a remote Himalayan kingdom of about 600,000 people that borders Nepal. Hundreds of thousands of people from that country lost their homes, jobs, and civil rights because they were originally from Nepal. Some teens and children never remember living anywhere except refugee camps.
Today several countries are receiving these refugees. The United States is accepting 60,000, while 5,000 are resettling in Quebec and Ontario, Canada. This kind of move requires a huge adjustment for Nepal. Most lack education and are taking jobs doing menial labor. The children are benefiting the most; they are receiving a better education.
At long last, these individuals have reason to hope for a better life on earth. With a Hindu background, Nepalis may never have heard that the hope for eternal life is available to them only through Jesus Christ. God is giving Canadian and U.S. citizens opportunities to minister to people they never expected to meet.
Let us pray for both the refugees and the people receiving them as neighbors and co-workers. Pray that Nepali immigrants will experience the love of Christ in North America. Ask the Holy Spirit to give them spiritual understanding. Pray that believers will share the good news that offers the only assurance of security people can ever have.-AK
Canada’s Sikh population has found great opportunities in business and in agriculture. But there are areas where the old ways clash with the new ones. For example, how can a high school football player keep his turban on under a helmet? The Sikh religion requires males to not cut their hair and wear a clean turban. Pray that thousands of Sikhs will soon find freedom in Christ that will show them the true way to please God.
Being a very small minority can be difficult for the Mongolians in Canada. Few of them can find other Mongolians who are facing the same challenges. Pray that they will soon find Christ as their best friend and guide as they navigate Canada’s secular culture.
In Canada, there are 35,000 Muslim Somalis who need to hear of the grace and forgiveness of God through Christ. To many of them, clinging to their ancient traditions is all they have left, and putting their faith in Christ is paramount to being a traitor. Pray that their new culture would not be a stumbling block for them to hear and respond to the person of Jesus Christ. Ask God to raise up culturally sensitive believers in Canada willing to familiarize themselves with the Somali culture.