Last week, the Brampton Diaries explored a bold claim: that in another two decades, much of Canada will look a lot like this suburb west of Toronto – now at the vanguards of everything from urban planning to policing to education, thanks to an explosion of immigration.
Comments on the series were equally bold, and sometimes divisive. Some expressed negativity and fear for the future, pointing to Brampton (where half the population is foreign-born) as a wreck of a city and not at all representative of Canadian ideals.
“Multiculturalism has failed in Europe and it has also failed here,” wrote one reader. “The result? Fragmented communities and a lowered quality of life (congestion, loss of green space, higher taxes, etc.).”
How far we should go to accommodate differences was another point of debate. Of the multi-faith worship room I wrote about at Brampton Civic Hospital – a key part of their diversity services – one reader wrote: “Religion needs to be practiced in the home or place of worship, not in the schools, hospitals or workplace.”
But another reader challenged that statement: “How can someone go to their place of worship if they are dying in their hospital bed?”
We live in a country with a long history of immigration, though, and that means many readers had personal experience to bring to the stories. Before the current wave of newcomers in Brampton, mainly from South Asia, there were others from Germany, Italy and elsewhere.
Marg Gillies, for instance, wrote about her father, a German immigrant who settled in Brampton more than 80 years ago, when it was still mostly farmland. He was able to start a greenhouse business just three years after his arrival.
When Ms. Gillies looks at Brampton today, she sees a place that offers newer immigrants those same opportunities – just on a larger scale.
“It is good to know that Brampton has had a history of welcoming immigrants, who become productive Canadians whatever their destiny,” she said.