LETTER: National identity is a cultural mosaic

No form of cross-cultural education will be able to have everyone on this planet become acculturated.

I am sorry that I do not share Bill Overy’s pessimism (Letters – Hyphenating nationalities divides us, Abbotsford News, Jan. 28).

There has always been a form of terror on this planet since the dawn of mankind – whether it was with orrorin tugenesis (six million years ago) or with homo sapiens (100,000 years go) right up to modern day humans – and there always will be and there is nothing that can be done to end it.

For millions of years, humanoids have pitted themselves against each other whether it is over religion, ethnicity (as all humans have variations of skin coloured “brown” as none are “black” or “white”) or nationality and they will never stop as no form of cross-cultural education will be able to have everyone on this planet become acculturated.

Canada’s national identity is a “cultural mosaic” for even our indigenous peoples belong to countless nations that feature 10 culture groups, 55 language groups and 350 dialectic groups that have existed for thousands of years before Norse explorers visited L’Anse aux Meadows (on the northern tip of Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula) around the year 1000.

Our national identify is animate and dynamic and is being shaped every day by the influx of peoples from all around the world – including those of us who are Anglo-Canadians – as demographers and statisticians like to “classify” people and that process will never stop.

Even in the United States, where the underlying national identity is that of a “melting pot”, there always have been and always will be hyphenated Americans, whether they are Afro-Americans, Caribbean-Americans or Spanish-Americans (Hispanic) or Amer-Indians – what their indigenous peoples have been called as opposed to the Canadian term “First Nations” peoples, but they, too, are made up of many culture, language and dialectic groups and should be referred to as “Navaho”, “Cherokee” or “Apache” or whatever their nation name is.

Diversity enriches Canada and any other country for that matter but there will always be people who look back at the conflicts that have gone on since time immemorial and live in the past, finding it hard to accept others who do not share their values, their beliefs or their perspective on life and turn to terror and killing to justify their “superiority.”

And, just to correct Mr. Overy on the meaning of “Canada”….yes, it is the Anglicization of the Iroquoian “Kanata”, but means “settlement”, “village”, or “land.”  But then, that only refers to an area along what is now the St. Lawrence River.  Other parts of Canada have had descriptive names that depend on what part of this massive block of land our first settlers referred to in their own language, terms that have not made it into our Euro-Canadian history books.


G.E. MacDonell