The Globe's front page story today is about the New Face of Canada.
In short, it is and will be "visible minority" face.
That is bringing and will continue to bring new excitement, new possibilities, and new challenges and struggles as cultures rub hard up against one another.
Canada, since the European invasions, has always been a country of immigrants.
Until now, the new Canadians have been largely, mostly, white Europeans.
That caused enough friction and comedy.
Now, every second citizen is from China or India or Africa and a hundred other places round the world.
On the same front page, the niqab/burka melodrama continues in Quebec.
If any story reveals the "challenges," this is it.
What is so interesting is that the Quebec authorities have been absolutely unequivocal.
“There is no ambiguity on this question: If you want to [attend] our classes, if you want to integrate in Quebec society, here our values are that we want to see your face,” Immigration Minister Yolande James said.
On Monday, Christine St-Pierre, the Quebec minister responsible for the status of women, called the niqab and burka “ambulatory prisons” that violate a woman's right to equality.
To complicate matters, the Muslim Canadian
“This is an attire worn in the desert during sandstorms. It's got nothing to do with religion,” said Tarek Fatah, founder of the congress. “It's a very clear sign that women are the possessions of men, and it's being thrust on North America and Europe. Most Muslims are fed up with the niqab and burka.”
It is rare in this politically correct, terribly self-conscious country to see this kind of clear, declamatory positioning.
There is so much that new Canadians bring to the mix -p new and old energies and ideas, wealth, enthusiasm.
And there is so much that we are afraid to ask of new Canadians.
The written driver's test in British Columbia should not be available in 170 languages, including dozens of local Chinese dialects, peculiar to regions and town in the People's republic. It should be available in our two official languages, French and English. Period.
A month ago, I stepped out of a coffee shop to speak to three young men.
I was friendly and polite and non-threatening.
I said Hi and asked where they were from.
When they told me Korea, I greeted them in one of the few Korean phrases I know.
They were pleased.
That allowed me to point out that I had been sitting in the window having my coffee and in the last few minutes I had watched one of them spit on the side walk six times.
I added that 1) I found this personally disgusting and sickening; 2) Spitting on the sidewalk is against the law in BC; & 3) It's a cultural thing. It's just not done here.
The boys were very kind and respectful and offered that they didn't know any of this and that they would be mindful to not continue this habit.
We all shook hands.
But the question remains...
Why didn't they know?
Because we are not spending time with new Canadians and short-term student Canadians and telling them a few simple truths about their new home.
My mother - may she rest in peace - told me years ago that the future of humankind was..."somewhat chocolate."
In another words, the only and best and inevitable way that we will get past all the racial and other differences in the Family of Man/Woman will be intermarriage.
She was right.
But until we get there, we could do a lot better job about honestly getting to know one another and being clear about our mutual expectations.