When I first read about Quebec cabinet minister Bernhard Drainville's proposed Quebec Charter of Values, I had to check my calendar and confirm I was still living in the twenty-first century. After reading over the deatails of this contoversial proposal, I wondered where the Quebec government has been since nineteen-eighty-five.
Most of their proposed restriction pertain to government work places, and I can see some logic to this way of thinking--but clearly there wasn't much thinking put into the inevitable consequences.
I can agree with only a small portion of dress restrictions--any dress, or gear that involves the wearing of a weapon--imitation or otherwise, should be unlawfull. We don't send our boys to school with imitation M-16 assault rifles, and I don't expect my kids to go to school, or work, around individuals sporting daggers on their belt. This topic was a hotbed of debate in Alberta in the late eighties.
Clothing is just that...clothing. I have worked side by side with sihks wearing full gowns and turbans in an indusrtial setting, without any problems or animosities. The men I worked with had "work" turbans that were perfectly suitable for the machine work we were involved in. About this same time period in the ninties, The RCMP had fashioned customized turbans to better include all religions into their diverse police force. It was a little strange for most Canadians who first saw this head gear show up in public, but we've all got used to it in the west where the Sikh population is significant. Now, we accept it as normal.
Another battle for traditional symbolism to be worn by an on duty policeman, also took place two decades ago in the early ninties--also in the City of Calgary Alberta. A Native born, City of Calgary Policeman, and a personal acquaintance of mine, "Norman Manyfingers"--fought, and won, a successful campaign to wear traditional native braids while on duty. This paved the way for other young natives to actively seek careers with Cagary Police. When constable Manyfingers made a traffic stop, or an arrest, he was treated with the same respect as any other member of the force--as it should be.
I'm sure there are thousands of heroic stories of confrontations by minorities who long to wear clothing traditional to their faith, and custom--in every province, from coast to coast. It's disappointing to see a province as culturally diverse as Quebec, only now, raising these issues in such a blantantly offensive way.
Quebec seems to be full of surprises for the rest of Canada--but they are part of us , and we'll have to help them get through this learning experience as part of our home team that missed a practice or two along the way.
I do agree, that newcomers to Canada, must remember that we are their host. We will do everything possible to make you comfortable, and feel welcome in your new home. Eventually, when we all get used to each other, it will be a unique , symbiotic culture, unsurpassed on the global stage. Meanwhile--please do not try and dismantle or neutralize Canadian culture. If we all show a little tolerance, and patience, we'll all get along just fine.