Canada is a mini-United Nations
Multicultural nation can offer lessons on diversity for Korea
He was born to an English father and a Russian mother in Brazil. He spent his childhood in Rio de Janeiro, the U.K. and Vancouver, British Columbia. He’s had a three decade-career in Asia as a Canadian diplomat.
That background might induce marvel in the hearts of Koreans whose lives revolve around this small peninsula surrounded by giant nations.
Such a multicultural and cosmopolitan life is only possible for diplomats, some Koreans might say.
Ted Lipman, Canada’s ambassador to Korea, has lived the life described above. But, he says, that’s not surprising for Canadians.
It is a “typical Canadian story. I think the thing that distinguishes Canada is the success of multicultural society,” Lipman, 54, said during a recent interview at the Canadian Embassy in central Seoul.
As an immigrant to Canada, he said nothing has prevented him from representing Canada as a diplomat abroad.
“Canada is a very free and fair country where people of various backgrounds thrive and that’s part of our success,” he said.
Lipman said Canada’s success as a multicultural society often goes unnoticed in Korea, although this East Asian country is aiming to be an international center. He said that among Koreans, U.S. influence still dominates interest in foreign cultures.
But through various cultural activities, including Canada Day, people can see multiculturalism on display.
Canada Day, commemorating the formation of the federation of British colonies in Canada in1867, is celebrated on July 1 around the world. In Korea, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Korea hosted a celebration event last Sunday, attended by around 1,000 Canadians and Koreans.
“[During the Canada Day events], you might see Scottish highland dancing and people dancing to the bagpipes, and you may see Indian, Chinese and other cultural manifestations of a multicultural society,” Lipman said. “You’ll see the face of Canada is not just one face and that will be reflected in any Canada Day event anywhere.”
Lipman said the Canadian Embassy is supporting a group of Korean scholars studying Canadian multiculturalism.
The Korean Association for Canadian Studies is comprised of around 150 professors from eight universities, including Seoul National University, Yonsei University and Korea University.
The ambassador said support for this work could help Korea find its own way of becoming a hub for people from around the world. He said many other Canada-related events in Korea also could help Koreans discover Canada.
“All of these things together will make us more understanding of each other,” he said.
“Every day is Canada Day from our point of view, as we get people to understand and know more about Canada.”
By Moon Gwang-lip Staff Reporter [firstname.lastname@example.org]