Stresses in multiculturalism focus of diversity symposium
By Maclean Kay
Troy Media Corporation
CALGARY, AB, September 29/Troy Media/ – Canadians’ reputation for being too polite often comes across as simply being dishonest, according to a junior high and adult English-as-a-Second-Language teacher in Calgary.
Kate Franks, who works with newcomers from countries and cultures from around the world, said the level of tact is so high in Canada that often her students don’t find Canadians to be forthright. That translates into being dishonest, she said, not in the literal sense but, by trying too hard to be polite, it accomplishes the same thing.
“I’ve seen websites run by recent immigrants to Canada listing bad experiences here,” she said. The comments “discourage others from choosing Canada as a place to relocate.”
Canadians so prize their reputation as accommodating, welcoming and above all, tolerant, she said, that some may not want to hear what some recent immigrants have to say. That lack of feedback, on everything from personal space to facial expressions, leads to both confusion and a disinterest in bridging cultures.
Dan Shapiro, a research associate with the Sheldon Chumir Foundation for Ethics in Leadership, agrees.
“It actually shows much greater respect to offer sincere criticisms, when cultural disagreements occur,” Shapiro said, “than to say nothing – or worse, to assume that behaviour you find inadequate is all you can expect from certain groups.” That, he added, is the very definition of patronizing, and is far more insulting than a well-intended critique.