|Print Version||Have You Heard?|
18 languages, 52 newspapers – now that’s the real Canadian experience. Forget the brouhaha over bilingualism. Instead mix it up with multiculturalism, dance with diversity, sachet into the 21st century with a spring in your step. Happily, that’s what Multimedia Nova Corporation (MNC) is doing with its new series, now in its fifth week.
Each week, a new vignette is written about one or another aspect of the civic, political and social development of our country. Topics include parliament, the Charter, political parties, regions, the nature of our relationships, defining moments from our past, and international roles. Canadian historians (most of them university professors) author each episode. It is then translated into 17 other languages and provided at no cost to a network of ethnic publications. Brilliant!
I did cringe, though, when reading through the first five writeups. A factual error here, a value laden choice of words there, an unconscious bias toward the dominant life experience of the authors – it all adds up to a flawed product. Ms. Abittan, MNC`s CEO, might consider getting the vignettes peer reviewed before publication. Someone needs to help her with quality control so the full potential of her initiative can be realized.
Posted On Jun 03 08:25AM
|Dr. James Norrie|
I too share the enthusiasm that many have commented on around this incredibly innovative and important project. Of course, a classic Canadian trait is to assume that any challenge to our underlying assumptions about what "multiculturalism" is (or should as Lori is sparking an intelligent debate about) must be wrong. As an academic and social scientist with some significant interest in the moral, ethical and business benefits of a building a diverse and tolerant society, I hear in Lori and other's work a plea for a greater understanding of the "Canadian Identity" located within a diverse and multi-ethic fabric. Rather than criticizing this effort - I applaud. Agree or disagree, any intelligent debate about making what is already a great society even better can do nothing but continue to propel us forward and I am delighted that the Senator and others in the public forum are picking up on this incredible contribution.
Posted On Jun 02 03:46PM
Glad you like this landmark series. Its pickup by 52 newspapers published for language groups other than English or French testifies to the thirst of newcomer groups for the history of Canada told in accessible, human terms. It also speaks to the true goal of multiculturalism -- that those born in Canada and those to immigrate here are engaged in a work in progress to build a new 'Canadian identity' that reflects who we are and what we are becoming.
I am disappointed, though, that you seem to take a few gratuitous shots at Lori Abittan. I'm afraid one can interpret the comments in your last paragraph as condescending because you seem to lecture her to try harder to get "our" history right. As you know by now, distinguished Canadian historian Jack Granatstein edited the series and Ms Abittan has an enviable record as a publisher and Canadian patriot. Did you know her newsroom has pictures of all the Canadian prime ministers? Name me another one in the country that displays such a regard for our political history.
Lori Abittan is the visionary behind this series. We should thank her for it, because it does the job that the rest of Canadian society should have done long ago -- engage newcomers in the history of their chosen country.
Prof. Miller is emeritus professor of journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto. He is former deputy managing editor of the Toronto Star and now serves on the business advisory board of Diversity Media Services.
Posted On Jun 02 01:43PM
Must admit, I'm confused a bit by Lori Abittan's definition of multiculturalism as a 'confining umbrella' (interesting metaphor!).
Perhaps it is less multiculturalism itself (which is all of us, our reality, here and now, evolving, plastic, elastic) but the theories of multiculturalism that have come from academic and policy circles.
In any case, it is a great endeavour and one I'll tune in to!
Into all things politics, policy and parliamentary.
Posted On Jun 02 11:35AM
I am delighted that you are so engaged in this project – a project that provides all Canadians with a basic understanding of
As to the issues of quality control: as president of a publishing firm with over 50 years experience I take such issues very seriously. This is why I hired leading and widely-respected Canadian historians, like Jack Granatstein, to write and edit the series.
My view of
A lot of very thoughtful and proud Canadians with links to many different communities and countries have spent a great deal of time supporting this initiative. This, to me, is the true Canadian spirit.
Posted On Jun 02 08:14AM
Great idea -- let's just hope they turn out better than those cringe-worthy 'Canadian moment' commercials.
Maybe we should hire our great comic writers to do these: get a touch of history, pride, heritage and some irony or satire in there to keep us on our toes.
But god yes, let us get beyond the whole 'French-English' trap! It is so 20th Century! And doesn't resonate for most of the country beyond the policy-wonk corridors of Ottawa-Quebec (ok, maybe Fredericton too).
Posted On Jun 02 08:09AM
Yes! At long last, let's celebrate our multicultural heritage and not just our bi-ethnic (french-english) heritage and language (which is false in any case -- it forgets aboriginal cultures).
Shame they hired academics to write them up, though. Academics on the whole are great at research and fleshing out ideas, but not always the most riveting writers (has anyone ever made it through an entire John Raulston Saul book -- seriously?)
Into all things politics, policy and parliamentary.
Posted On Jun 02 07:16AM
I think it is an admirable initative and I am pleased to see such a collective of individuals coming together with the genuine interest of providing a service to new Canadians. True some would argue the infomation is biased, for example, some would debate the geography section is biased towards climate change for example (snort). Regardless, they are succeeding in doing one thing which is taking what could be dry knowledge and adding life and perspective -- even if we do not fully agree with all of them.