Plaidneck

Author: The Plaidneck (page 1 of 18)

On Being Tolerant

I recently listened to an op-ed on cultural diversity. Although mentioned now and then, it never truly addressed the cultural change many of us have gone through and are continuing to go through.

Some background:
• I am a white, retired, professional living in a long settled rural part of Ontario. I hope I take people as they come, but as with many humans, also seem to have a tendency to be leery of groups that aren’t mine.
• I was brought up in what most would call a small town. At that time, the town wasn’t too diverse.
• I attended university in a medium sized city and there started to meet people of different cultures. Luckily my parents fostered an ethic of listening to everyone so these 4 years were a great time of learning. My understanding of differences grew.
• I first worked in Toronto, joined some different groups and again, broadened my knowledge of differences.
• Marriage; often a huge look at a very different ethic.
• My longest working stint was in one of the oldest settled parts of Ontario where two (possibly three) cultures live in relative harmony.
• My profession was heavily male oriented but about half a generation after I began, I had many respected, capable, business friends from all stripes. I served on a number of committees (provincial and country) where we were working through common problems. The membership was very diverse but the aims were the same.
• By the time I was raising a family of my own, the diversity of names on the backs of team sweaters had expanded well beyond that of the area’s original settlers. My children’s friends added to the variety.
• My daughter chose my profession.

Humans live in groups. Our groups are fluid and situational:
• my (children’s) school vs the next school over;
• my town’s local team vs the neighbouring town’s team;
• my marching band vs the band to the north.
• my church vs the one in the next county

People in one “vs” group often are in one of “my” other groups so the group isn’t based on anything other than it’s another group.

Humans developed in small groups and have always used caution when approaching another group. That caution is deep within our makeup.

The nearby city (again what many would call small town) is much more diverse than you’d expect.

• the two official languages are spoken and understood.
• there is a first nation presence
• more recent settlers wear all the vestments of their former home.

We’re getting there.

To truly become an accepting society requires work and time. Discussions on accepting diversity can turn into rants by those demanding full acceptance now. This is quite often coupled with some scolding.

We need time to learn – all of us. In the case of different cultures, that means mixing and understanding. I believe our challenge is to become part of enough diverse groups to become familiar with differences. By dealing with others, we can overcome the distrust of any differences.

In other words it is a journey and journeys take time and effort.

 

The Plaidneck

 

A heretical thought

As Canada celebrates its 150th, our aboriginal citizens object, saying they were here long before 150 years.

Correct. They were, long before 150 years. Apparently there were three waves of settlement; one about 15,000 years ago; a second wave concentrated more on the west coast but again mixed substantially with those of the first wave, and a third wave, about 5,000 years ago, settled mainly in the arctic and also mixed with the earlier waves.

Caucasians and Africans started arriving since 1,000 years ago and again there has been mixing of races.

So was there a “country” here before Canada, or is celebrating not proper.

There definitely were the land and people on the land. But was it a country? From reading, it seems that the people were divided into disparate groups with allies and enemies (Iroquois confederacy vs. the Huron Nation, in the prairies and on the plains, the Blackfoot, Salteaux and Dakota were at least rivals, on the west coast, although often tempered by trade, full out war was known to occur).

Prior to the arrival of Europeans, it would seem that what is now Canada was not what we now call a country. It was settled by folk who considered the particular group they were in as “the people.” These peoples were loosely bound by trade, but they were not a country. Our most recent label is “first nations”. Note, nations not nation. There are different concepts on what is a nation, but what is now Canada didn’t exist as a country.

It is true that the settlers who put together Canada did not include these peoples in their negotiations to create our country. Canada was stitched together as a country from coast to coast to coast to a line and a bunch of lakes and the native population dragged into its fold in a manner that left/leaves much to be desired. Should Canada strive to right the injustices of the Indian Act, Residential Schools, the Sixties swoop? Of course, injustice is injustice.

But, there was no cohesive country in what is now called Canada until 1867. Interestingly, many of the countries of Europe did not exist as countries until the late 1800s. Country as we know it is a result of negotiations, treaties and constitutions and often appeared to happen in the 100 years each side of 1800. We fit right in.

Yes, it is proper to celebrate Canada’s 150th.

The Plaidneck

Rural postal delivery

I just finished a road trim through parts of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Quebec.

One thing I noticed was the predominance of group boxes in the rural areas. These are not new developments, but well established hamlets and farm land.

Here in the part of Ontario where I live, the area too consists of well-established settlements and farms (coupled with the over smattering of new residences scattered all over). With the exception of the hamlets (which never had mail delivery in the 225 plus years many of them have existed) mail is still delivered to individual mail boxes at the end of lanes and driveways (I distinguish between a farm lane and the shorter driveways of the newer housing).

Why is it that in the three provinces I visited east of here, they have the energy and gumption to use the group box delivery method while here in the “heartland” we find it difficult to give up getting mail in a box that is susceptible to damage by maintenance equipment?

An acquaintance of mine moved from a residence where mail was delivered to their box to a new subdivision where the group box had been established. She found that the group box was actually more convenient. Parcels were delivered to the group box (placed in a large compartment and a key left); pick up of to be delivered mail was possible, conveniences that weren’t available on the normal rural route delivery.

There are a few reasons why we could have stubbornly kept the old delivery system:

• We’re basically too stubborn to change
• We aren’t bright enough to understand that there may be advantages to the group box.
• We’re too selfish to “give up” anything even if it actually offers better service.
• We’re a bit lazy and going for the mail except at the end of our short driveway. Although I’ve seen many “rural” compatriots drive to the end of their driveway instead of walking.
• It is just too much of a bother to think of stopping anywhere but home when on one of the 10 plus auto trips a day that seem to come from a typical residence.

I don’t have an answer to any of this, but maybe it is time for “rural” Ontario to get with the program and accept group box mail delivery (and pickup).

The Plaidneck

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