The definition of Canadian values and getting out to vote have recently become a hot topic among Richmond’s Chinese-speaking community – and an online forum was held Tuesday evening on this very subject.
Richmondite James Heish, a former public interest director with the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), was invited to the online discussion to talk about the beauty of multiculturalism and how to adapt well into Canadian society, including voting in elections.
“All human beings, regardless of our cultures or races, share the same needs. This is because we are all of the same kind,” said Heish, stressing that “sometimes it’s important to forget about our differences.”
To help online audiences better understand this concept, Heish shared a lesson he learned from his two children born and raised in Richmond.
“My two kids have always seen everyone as the same from an early age. They kept telling me everyone is a Canadian as well as a critical member of our community,” he said.
“For them, everyone is so cool and so much fun to hang around – no matter if your parents or great grandparents are immigrating from India, China, Iran or France.”
One audience member asked about the definition of reconciliation and cultural harmony since they seem to be “big” words. Heish replied that he believes these words stand for accepting, belonging and commitment.
“We need to accept Canadian values since we’ve moved to this land and treated it as our home. Then we need to create a sense of belonging by continuously contributing to the local society and fulfilling our commitment,” said Heish.
Another question that came up during the online event focused on elections.
Guangming, another attendee, asked Heish why the voter turnout of the Richmond Centre riding, which has a high Chinese population, is the lowest compared with other regions.
Heish said there are many reasons behind this, for example, some immigrants are busy making a living in Canada, which can make them uninterested in engaging with local politics.
“Some people told me, ‘I am super satisfied with my life here. So, I will leave other Canadians to decide who is going to be our prime minister – I’ve faith in them to make the best decision.
“This is absolutely wrong. We need to change this situation by educating all Chinese immigrants that voting is our responsibility as a Canadian,” said Heish. “If you don’t come out to vote, you are irresponsible.”