Happy 150TH Birthday, Canada: 6 Tips on Teaching Tolerance
Oh Canada! I love you! I am especially appreciative of this great country in light of all the things happening in U.S. politics at the moment (don’t even get me started). We are very fortunate to live in a country that embraces diversity. We are not perfect, but we hold it as an ideal.
In Toronto, if you stop someone randomly on the street and ask them where they were born, it’s more likely they were born in a different country than Canada. That’s right – more than 50% of Torontonians are immigrants.
In Canada, we encourage people to embrace and celebrate their culture, their religion, and their sexual orientation. We not only encourage it, we legislate it! So what are you doing as leaders of your household to pass along a positive attitude to your children about diversity? After all, we know children are not born racist, sexist or homophobic. They are taught. So we have to teach acceptance and tolerance instead.
Here are some ideas to get the ball rolling:
- Be prepared with good answer for when you child asks questions like “why is that boy in a wheelchair? Or why is that girl’s skin brown? Why is that woman in a robe?”
- Answer accurately and with body language that reflects your positive attitude.
- Find daycares, camps or schools that are multicultural and diverse. Just having early childhood friends that are all very different is a great start to understanding diversity.
- Celebrate the diversity in your own family. Respect the difference in your children and show how people with different opinions, talents and desires can all co-operate and love one another.
- Challenge stereotypes when you see them in the media or you hear your child or their friends making remarks.
- Enjoy different foods from different cultures and celebrate some of their holidays: Eid, Cinco de Mayo, Passover and more. Share the stories that go along with these traditions.
- Have a strong sense of pride for your own family’s heritage and culture. A child’s positive self-image will go a long way in reducing any fears they may feel from others who are different from them.
- Walk the talk. I was in Washington just 3 days after the U.S. election and had the opportunity to talk with people about the results. I forced myself to really listen, with an open mind and curiosity, so I could best learn understand rather than pre-judge.
On July 1st and through out the summer, I hope you take to some time to enjoy this great country with such a diverse group of great people! If you are a one of my followers from outside of Canada, please come and visit – we will welcome you with open arms!