It’s the new year, but I have to comment on our Prime Minister’s Christmas message from a D&I perspective.
You can watch it here.
There are many beautiful messages in there:
– giving and giving back
– supporting folks in our communities
– reaching out to neighbours who may be alone
He especially highlighted taking care of each other as something Canadians do all year round. “Rain, shine or snow,” he said. “We show up for each other, because that’s who we are.”
Awesome. These are all amazing and necessary actions that build community and foster a sense of inclusion and belonging – at any time of the year.
So…what about “showing up” for folks who aren’t celebrating Christmas by acknowledging that?
Here’s what’s missing from this message, in my D&I opinion:
Not everyone in Canada celebrates Christmas. (And not everyone is celebrating it from a religious perspective, but he sort of covered that with the reindeer comment.)
When this was posted on Dec. 24th, Hanukkah had already begun. Kwanzaa (an African American tradition, with greater uptake in the USA) would start 2 days later on Dec. 26th. And there are also many Canadians that weren’t celebrating any of these.
This message is a perfect example of how easy it is to exclude, unintentionally.
How to make the message more inclusive:
Is it wrong to send a Christmas message? No. It’s natural to want to reach out to others during a holiday and the sentiment and words were lovely.
If he had done it on Dec. 22, he could have made it a holiday message that:
– included Christmas and the fact that he and his family were about to celebrate it
– acknowledged that many Canadians are also celebrating Christmas, as he did,
– and he could have wished those celebrating Hanukkah and Kwanzaa happy holidays as well.
What about those not celebrating? He could have included them also, by acknowledging that not everyone is celebrating. Because compassion, caring, looking out for, showing up and supporting one another is not something we only do around holidays. And if this is so Canadian (as the Prime Minister said) then we don’t need to be celebrating to do so.
So simple, in my opinion.
Opening our hearts and broadening our perspective means we can hold everyone.
For Justin Trudeau’s message, this would not have meant removing the magic or acknowledgment of Christmas for him or others who are celebrating, but acknowledging who else was celebrating, and those who weren’t celebrating – and in so doing acknowledging what our population actually looks like, and reaching out to everyone and encouraging compassion, support and care.
That sounds more Canadian to me. At least the Canada I want to live in.
(c) Annemarie Shrouder 2020
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