By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest Confucius
My son, who is a musician and I had a conversation about discrimination the other day, This conversation happened because one of the other older musicians, who participate in the open mike program that my son goes to, started to talk about his experiences when he first came to Canada in the mid-1950's.
Two other people, one a man and one a woman, joined in the conversation and talked about how they were made fun of because of their accents when they arrived at school. The intolerance continued for both until they graduated from their school in the early 60's.
My son, had a different experience as he went to school in the mid-80's. He said that he did not notice any discrimination or racism in his school. I am sure it was there, but I also believe that by the 80's Canada was a more tolerant and open society.
Both my grandparents on my mothers and fathers side were immigrants to Canada. My grandfather on my mother's side was born in Romania and came to Canada when he was 14, my grandmother on my mother's side was also born in Romania and came to Canada via the United States when she was 5. My father's parents were both born in the United States.
I remember my mum's cousins having accents but did not think too much of this as in my family, as in most families, people are accepted as they are. A few years ago I learned that when my mother went to high school in Regina from her hometown, she was made fun of because of her accent. So she made up her mind to lose the accent and to not speak Romanian again outside of her home. When she married in the mid 40's she refused to speak Romanian in her own home. My brothers and I lost the opportunity to learn a language other than English or French. When we were growing up and elder aunts and uncles came over, everyone spoke English. I was not aware it was because of my mum's rule that in her home you only spoke English. The discrimination felt by my mum and her family was real, it was hurtful, and it had lasting effects, but they still loved this country and were proud they were Canadians.
So the discrimination that my mum felt when she left the small community of like-minded speakers, and the discrimination she and other immigrants to Canada felt in the 40's continued in the 50's and continued to exist into the early 60's.
In the 60's Pierre Elliott Trudeau, (one of our Prime Ministers--his son is our current Prime Minister) started to help Canadians reflect on, and accept the fact we were a multicultural nation, and that we as a country should embrace and celebrate this idea. Through his policies of Multiculturalism, Canada changed. This change was not quick and it was not easy for some Canadians, but Canada over time became a more tolerant country.
Canada today is internationally recognised for its understanding and acceptance of peoples from other countries and cultures. The majority of Canadians today, I believe, understand that we should accept people for who they are, rather than the colour of their skin, their religion, or their accent.