As Canadians of South Asian origin, we come from lands of rich heritage, customs, traditions and perspectives – not perfect, but valuable, never the less. We have much to offer in crafting the Canadian identity that is forward looking, fun, fearless, embracing of the world in a way that harnesses strengths and collaboration. A world that is more empowered because of what we do as Canadians.
The tapestry of the South Asian cultural fabric is complex. Layered with incredible diversity, in itself. Legacies of thousands of years of the history of kingdoms and rulers, invaders, colonial powers and governments, language and the arts, religions and rituals, customs and communities. Speaking of languages, a fact that is surprising to even people of Indian origin is that the constitution of India recognizes not one, not two, but twenty-two Indian languages. And we’re not talking about dialects here. So you can image the number of sub-cultures, groups, traditions and values that colour the South Asian identity.
We prize learning and encourage our youth to pursue it with purpose. We are a people of entrepreneurship, innovation and ideas. We value family and friends – and this helps strengthen the social fabric within our communities, and outside. We are a giving people – and already part of the volunteer landscape that facilitates so much good in Canada and across the world.
Living a life that blends these many worlds, South Asian and Canadian, cannot be easy. There’s always the fear that we might shed too much of the South Asian identity in the making of the Canadian one. Is there a middle ground? As Canadians, we find ourselves, at the crossroads – a nation that now needs to redefine its position on the world stage, having chosen to step away from active participation. I think there are many among us, Canadians of South Asian heritage, that can help lead this in a myriad ways.
As Canada heads towards its 150th birthday in 2017 – it would be great for us, as South Asian Canadians, to work together to give a greater voice and forum for our phenomenal ideas for a glorious Canada, which is now our home.