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Prof. Kazepidis’ Values of Multiculturalism

kazepidesBy the time Greek Professor Tasos Kazepides took Canadian citizenship  in 1974 the judge who interviewed him told him that he should preserve his traditions, language and values because in this country, “We have a policy of multiculturalism.” Kazepidis taught him what that meant.

According to the Vancouver Sun, Kazepides, a Professor Emeritus at Simon Fraser University, is curious about the reasons why many immigrants care to keep their traditions, language etc from their country of origin.

Kazepidis has a story to tell about this matter: “When I became a Canadian citizen in 1974 the judge who interviewed me told me that I should make sure to keep my traditions, language and values because in this country we have a policy of multiculturalism.

‘This is what I tell all our new immigrants,’ he said.

When I asked if there was anything else I should do, he replied negatively! I was surprised and said that I would like to say something after he had signed my citizenship papers. He hurried and signed them and then he asked me what was that I wanted to say.

“Your honour,’ I said, ‘you really surprised me because you failed to tell me one very important thing that I and all other immigrants ought to do.”

Kazepides told the judge: ‘What you should be telling all new citizens of this province is that they should learn the English language, the laws and history of Canada well so that they can become intelligent and responsible members of this society.”

“‘‘Well,’” he said,  “Don’t you know that in this country we have a department of multiculturalism?”

“Yes,” I said, “and it is all unclear, confused and misleading.”

“Well, we agreed to disagree and that was the end, I thought…

“A few months later, I was invited by the Hellenic Community of Vancouver to give a lecture on the occasion  of a Greek national holiday. There were many officials from the provincial and federal governments present.

“I chose to speak on The Values of Hellenism, wanting to emphasize those aspects of Greek values that have universal value as opposed to the provincial traditions regarding language, customs and traditions that vary from society to society. The response was overwhelming and when I sat down next to Mike Harcourt he grabbed my notes and, to my surprise, said that my speech was the best he had heard about multiculturalism and he wanted to keep my notes.

“What happened afterwards was a little miracle! I saw this little man, who looked vaguely familiar, approaching me with a smile on his face. ‘Do you remember me,’ he said, ‘I am judge ‘X’ and wanted to tell you how grateful I am that you spoke to me so frankly and openly during your interview with me, when you became a Canadian citizen; it made me think about multiculturalism seriously and now I follow your advice during all the interviews.’”




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