Canadian Multiculturalism Day: Strength in Diversity

June 25, 2021

My Great Grandfather emigrated from Northern India to East Africa in 1896. Growing up in Kenya as a third generation Kenyan was an incredible experience in that not only was the country an equatorial paradise, but the country had also just received independence from British colonial rule shortly after I was born. All prospects for growth and development of the country looked great and the future looked very promising. Kenya had a well-developed tourism and hospitality industry, a growing agriculturally based economy and possessed a myriad of natural resources. Foreign investment fueled the establishment of various new and diversified industries and bolstered the growth and development of the Kenyan economy at an expedited rate.

As the years moved on, many other African countries began to gain independence, but the stories were not the same. Political upheavals, tribal rivalries and the evolution of autocratic/dictatorial rulers created a sense of insecurity, instability, and concern for the future wellbeing and personal security for many families. This context started to become more prevalent in the region.

My family owned and operated successful businesses in various parts of the region they lived in. Even though these businesses remained an option for myself and my siblings to eventually join into and continue operating the same, my parents encouraged my siblings and I to take the opportunity to travel to Europe or North America to seek and pursue post-secondary educational interests of our own with the prospect of joining the family businesses always remaining open.

As young and open-minded individuals that we were, seeking a bit of an adventure, we all took up our parents’ advice and chose Canada as the country in which we would like to pursue our educational aspirations. Canada’s reputation as a welcoming, friendly, and tolerant society was well known. I came to Canada in 1978 and enrolled myself in the Civil Engineering Degree program at the University of Calgary.

The University of Calgary had an International Students Society Club that through membership, presented an opportunity to meet many students from all over the world. The student body at the U of C was also very diverse and pleasantly integrated into the mainstream student population. This was very refreshing to see and speaks volumes to the welcoming and accepting nature of the Canadian ethos.

Upon graduation, concerns regarding personal safety and security in the land of my birth were still clear and present. This underlying situation and the uncertainty of being able to confidently assess what may lie in the future if I returned home, prompted the consideration of staying in Canada and making this wonderful country our family’s future home. I was fortunate to have had the privilege of being accorded Canadian Landed Immigrant status, and consequently, was able to stay in Canada and seek gainful employment in my field of training and education.

Just prior to graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Calgary, the Province of Alberta experienced a massive economic downturn with the introduction of the Federal National Energy Program. Alberta’s economy tanked; jobs were scarce – especially for new University graduates. With a little luck I was able to find an employment position with Alberta Transportation working on the construction of a variety of Highway related projects in and around Central Alberta.

After approximately a year or so, the Alberta economy began to see a new phase of economic regeneration, and with this activity, employment opportunities in the larger Cities began to emerge. I was fortunate enough to have been able to source and secure a position with an Engineering firm in Calgary, and subsequently, quickly made my way back to Calgary. My tenure with this local firm lasted for eleven years before I decided to leave and start up my own consulting practice. The staffing composition was as diverse as that reflected in the overall Canadian mosaic. This was our ‘strength’.

Globalization has created an interdependence of cultures. The importance of nurturing cultural diversity and building a strong competitive talent force, in an increasingly globalized and competitive world, is paramount to effective nation building and unifying a country. Tapping into the myriad of talent and expertise that exists within these diverse groups only helps to enhance a society which embraces cultural diversity and its inherent strengths to remain strong, resilient, successful and be positively impactful on a national, and even global stage.

One of the challenges of Globalization is that it can unintentionally lead to and be perceived as a form of ‘homogenization’. If allowed to evolve unchecked, it can invariably result in being a threat in the form of creating an unintended consequence of eroding cultural identities. We should always be wary of this since it is strength in diversity and the preservation of rich cultural identities and values that makes us positively viable as human beings in a successful, progressive pluralistic society.

Our customers and clients seek to contract our services on the quality of work rendered and the competencies of our workforce – regardless of its cultural or ethnic makeup. In my opinion, this overarching philosophy is one of the many values that makes Canada stand out amongst other developed nations and be such a magnet or beacon for many around the world seeking a better life for themselves and their future generations.

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Englobe Corporation is a Canadian leader in applied sciences, particularly in the fields of the environment, geosciences, and materials engineering. Operating in 64 Canadian locations as well as 5 locations in the UK and France, Englobe’s team of 2,600 resources includes engineers, professionals, technicians, and technical support staff.

Englobe’s services are divided into 5 main segments: Geosciences and Materials, Environment (GME), Treatment, Management and Recycling, Specialty Services, and Engineering. For more than 60 years, the company has conducted investigations, inspection, testing, analyses, assessments, supervision and monitoring of work for its clients.

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