Tag archives for: canada

On Being "Accommodating"

Niqabs are in the news again. Stephen Harper wants them off during the Canadian citizenship ceremony. The whole thing is surely a tempest in a teapot, as there have been a grand total of two, count 'em, two women since 2011 who have refused to show their faces during the ceremony, but it has started occasionally ugly debates on the limits of what is generally known as "religious accommodation".

First off, I should mention that I really dislike the term "religious accommodation".

It evokes entirely the wrong imagery. When someone is being "accommodating" they are doing something active, something they wouldn't normally do. So when someone says that they're being "accommodating" by allowing a woman to wear a niqab one gets the impression that this is something that they actively have to go out of their way to do - like changing lanes on the highway or something.

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The Cultureless

I don't really consider myself Canadian.

Of course, that's kind of a lie. It does say "Canada" on my passport, so there's that. If you ask me about my nationality, I'll say I'm Canadian. If you mistake me for an American, I'll politely correct you. I mean, everybody's got to be from somewhere, right? And I'm from Canada. So I guess that makes me Canadian.

But I don't feel "Canadian" in the same way that many people feel, say, French or British or Indian (or even, dare I say it, Quebecois). My place of birth doesn't form a big part of my personal identity. The nationality of my parents takes up even less head space - I don't consider myself Italian, for example, despite the fact that my mother was born in Sicily. I've never felt a strong desire to go "back to my roots". It rarely occurs to me to care very much, beyond a fondness for lasagna and rapini.

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