TORONTO - The US has emerged from a tumultuous Presidential campaign. The outcome has motivated a few commentators to admire Canada’s values, point to inclusiveness and diversity. For sure, they are our unique source of cultural, social, and economic strength because pluralism includes many viewpoints.
Has anyone noticed, however, that the Senate does not have any Canadians of Italian origin? The issue is not about Ital-ian-Canadians voting in a certain way because of their ethnicity. It’s about the experience and talent within our community being exposed and expressed in our governing institutions.
By omission, the government is saying that no Canadian of Italian heritage has accomplished anything meriting recognition. The challenge is to make that contribution to Canada more evident and better known more broadly, giving visibility and pride to accomplished Canadians of Italian heritage.
Let’s turn to the Order of Canada. Over the past five years (2011-2016), 788 awards were given to recognize outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation.
Of those, 14 appear to have been given to Canadians of Italian Heritage. That’s 1.8% in 5 years. Now let’s consider that in 2011, 4.6% of the Canadian population claimed full or partial ancestry. Arguably, the Governor General gave out 2.8% fewer awards than the proportion of the Italian-Canadian population; even fewer using the 2016 population base. Odd to think there were not more from the pool over a five-year span.
This is a story that can have a positive ending. We have an opportunity to reflect on how we can enable that public recognition to happen, especially for women of Italian heritage, who have served country in a public way or in civic organizations without recognition.
Maybe it is time to think about how we can promote and recognize nationally the accomplishments and impact we have had on this great country.
There’s significant civic-minded talent and leadership among us, especially Canadian women of Italian heritage. Humility is a virtue in as much as lifting people up. Let’s promote our success and recognize it.