What is Canadian Multiculturalism Day?
“Canadian Multiculturalism Day honours the many cultural communities that help build a strong and vibrant Canadian society. Take this opportunity to celebrate the cultural diversity that enriches us collectively and reaffirm your commitment to equity, inclusion, and mutual respect.”
Why Canadian Multiculturalism Day Is Important
Many holidays in Canada are based on days recognized by the Christian faith or by the Crown. Canadian Multiculturalism Day helps as a reminder that there are many faiths and cultures that comprise the Canadian landscape.
Covenant House Vancouver (CHV) serves all youth in need, which means that youth from all over the world arrive at our doors. To try and better serve youth, frontline staff have developed their own awareness day calendar that is a living document.
Information about celebrated days is shared to the youth via monitors on every floor and through posters. Each medium not only highlights the upcoming celebration, but also states that if there is a day that a youth would like to see honoured, to let either a youth worker or the Lead Spiritual Care Practitioner know about their wishes.
Youth who come to CHV have experienced trauma. In addition to that, some youth are coming to Canada from other countries. From a mental health perspective, enabling youth to connect to their heritage and traditions is important.
The Importance of Food
For some, food is a way to stay connected to their culture. In religion, food often plays a very important part in ceremonies and within the religious culture and is therefore prepared in specific ways.
“What we consume, how we acquire it, who prepares it, who’s at the table, and who eats first is a form of communication that is, it has a rich cultural base. Beyond merely nourishing the body, what we eat and with whom we eat can inspire and strengthen the bonds between individuals, communities, and even countries. There is no closer relationship than the one with the family and food plays a large part in defining family roles, rules, and traditions. It helps us to discover attitudes, practices, and rituals surrounding food, it sheds light on our most basic beliefs about ourselves and others. There is a relationship between culture and food. This negotiates our identities, cultures, and environments.”
CHV recognizes the significance of food, beyond meeting a youth’s basic needs. Ramadan is an excellent example of this. For Muslims, Ramadan is the holiest month and involves fasting, spiritual growth, introspection, and prayers. During this time, Muslims devote themselves to their faith and nourish their souls by abstaining from drinking or eating, from dusk until dawn. Fasts are traditionally broken with family and friends by sharing meals together. This is known as iftar. Being that many of our youth are disconnected from their families, our staff at CHV hold weekly iftar gatherings where food is brought in, and youth gather, during communal and traditional fast-breaking meals.
Food is a sacred part of many of the celebrated days at CHV. With the rising costs of food, it has become more and more difficult to not only meet daily meals, but to provide specialty foods for cultural and religious practices. If you would like to help CHV support youth in these cultural practices, this is an ideal time. Right now, thanks to YVR, any donation made until June 30th will be matched. That means you can double your impact and help twice as many youth. If you can, donate today.