DeJONGHE: Our diversity makes an exceptional pot



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Everyone loves stew in one form or another.

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There are so many options and variations on what constitutes a stew and even more instructions on how to make a good one. A noble stew requires a variety of ingredients that release their goodness with slow cooking. You can use any type of meat or seafood, spices and a wide assortment of vegetables.

Each nationality or ethnic group has its own version. We were able to taste a bourguignon or a French bouillabaise, a Russian stroganoff, an indigenous bowl of the three sisters, an Italian stew, a Flemish carbonnade, an Indian rogan josh, a South American cazuela, an Asian kimchi jjiage, a Creole jambalya, a Moroccan tagine, a Lancashire pot, a Mexican chili con carne, a SOB Stew, Hungarian goulash, chicken and meatballs from Quebec, or a simple stew of beef, onions, potatoes and carrots. Each is decidedly different but each perfect in itself.

The one thing we know for sure is that you need all the ingredients, spices, meat, vegetables and broth to create a super bowl of deliciousness. Each ingredient should retain an individual distinction but enhance and support all other elements to make the stew complete. No ingredient should dominate the others.

There are as many diverse stew recipes as there are peoples in the world. It’s a bit like us, isn’t it? In Canada, we have some 250 different ethnic backgrounds or ancestral groups and a whole host of religious denominations, we too are like a stew, assorted but unique, but needing each to add the flavor and interest that defines us in as a country.

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Regardless of your ethnic origin, family line or religious affiliation, you are an integral part of what makes us special. Each nationality brings with it specific beliefs, customs, philosophies, opinions, ideas and viewpoints. Everyone should continue to cherish them, to express them, to live them, to follow them as they see fit and to share them with others. No one ethnicity, ancestral line or religion is superior to another or should trump the others. It is the fact of working together while preserving our individuality, our distinctiveness, our uniqueness that makes us great.

Those who try to control, impose their beliefs, their traditions, their concepts, their attitudes on others, that is what will destroy us. This is what causes conflict in families, churches, organizations, at all levels of government and globally between neighboring countries. Those who give themselves higher esteem will always cause conflict and division.

Apart from the Aboriginal peoples, all of our ancestors came from elsewhere. We have not done well with First Nations and have become selective. Once we established ourselves, you would think that after so many thousands of years, we would have now learned that equality is the only key to peace and harmony.

We are either immigrants or refugees in this country. Our ancestors came to escape oppression, persecution, deprivation, despair, brutality. They came here to find safety, sanctuary, stability, prosperity, freedom and above all a home. As a nation, we must continue to welcome them, to support them, to take care of them and they will in turn help us to build an even greater nation.

Each of us counts and it is the attention and acceptance that make us great, but it is our diversity that makes us an exceptional pot.

In my book the best stew in the world.

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