That is a good quote. It reflects a more contemporary view of national identity than we have had in years past. I am a United States citizen, but I think I have a good enough acquaintanceship with Canada to comment, and I think there are enough similarities between the countries...
That is a good quote. It reflects a more contemporary view of national identity than we have had in years past. I am a United States citizen, but I think I have a good enough acquaintanceship with Canada to comment, and I think there are enough similarities between the countries for me to weigh in on this topic.
In the United States, the prevailing metaphor for immigration was the "melting pot" for many years, and I believe this was true in Canada as well. Society expected immigrants to assimilate as quickly as possible, and oftentimes, the immigrants themselves were highly motivated to do so for a number of reasons, for example, to forget the dread of what they had left behind or because there was a considerable amount of prejudice against immigrants. People often seemed to want to give up their cultures. I had a neighbor whose parents were Italian immigrants, and my neighbor once told me that her mother refused to make any Italian dishes. My grandmother was Russian, but I never heard her say a word in her native tongue. She learned English as quickly as she could and never looked back. So, the idea was that we were all supposed to hop into the pot and become Americans.
Today, the metaphor is more of a "salad bowl." The ingredients do not merge into one another, but maintain their individual identity. And I believe that in the United States and Canada, this is what immigrants are doing. They less frequently lose their native tongues, they are more likely to cook their native dishes, they celebrate holidays native to their countries of origin, and keep their links with music and literature. I know many immigrants, and while they may represent a statistically insignificant sampling, I do believe that they are representative of today's climate.
If you examine the literature of yesteryear and today, you will find that the literary representations reflect this. Contrast the writing of Richard Rodriguez with the immigrant experience in The Kite Runner. I would guess that there is a body of Canadian literature that will demonstrate this point, too.
The idea behind the quote seems to me to be that it is fine to maintain one's ethnic identity, but that we must also maintain a national identity, too, because if we are not all together in the salad bowl, there will be no nation at all.