Over the last couple of weeks, I have watched with interest the discussion around political correctness and holiday celebrations.
Terms like Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings and Winter Break are an attempt to be inclusive, to not assume that everybody one meets celebrates the holiday we or our families celebrate. These are catch-all phrases that leave no one out, including those who celebrate Christmas.
Being sensitive in the way one speaks is not about denigrating Christmas or communicating that Christmas should mean any less than before to those who celebrate this holiday. It is about ensuring that all Canadians, from any one of the multitude of backgrounds from which we come, feel welcome, feel as though they belong, and feel that their traditions are welcome here.
If we were to continue Christian traditions in public schools, and say only Christian terms like Merry Christmas and Christmas break, we would be excluding and marginalizing, via our language, those who are not Christians.
Anyone who takes a trip to the local big box stores, or downtown shops knows that menorahs and symbols of diwali or other cultural holidays will not be found. In society at large, Christmas trees, Christmas songs, and other symbols of the Christian tradition are ubiquitous.
Those who are not Christian already feel largely left out at this time of year due to the lack of public presence of their symbols.
Let us at least be welcoming in our use of language — in the community, in our public schools, in our stores: welcoming of all, including those Christians among us, and those non-Christians among us.
Canada is an inclusive, tolerant country, and we should be proud to uphold our national values here in the Cowichan Valley.