DeJONGHE: Our diversity makes an exceptional pot of stew

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Everyone loves stew in some form or other.

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There are many, 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 which release their goodness with slow cooking. You can use any kind of meat or seafood, spices and a vast assortment of vegetables.

Each nationality or ethnic group has its own version. We could enjoy a French bourguignon or bouillabaise, Russian stroganoff, Indigenous three sisters bowl, Italian ragu, Flemish carbonnade, Indian rogan josh, South American cazuela, Asian Kimchi jjiage, Creole jambalya, Moroccan tagine, Lancashire hotpot, Mexican chilli con carne, American SOB stew, Hungarian goulash, Quebec chicken and dumplings, or a simple beef, onion, potato and carrot stew. Each is decidedly different but each perfect in its own right.

The one thing we know for sure is you need all the ingredients, spices, meat, veggies and broth working together to create a super bowl of deliciousness. Each ingredient must maintain individual distinction but enhance and support all other elements in order to make the stew complete. No ingredient should overpower the others.

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

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Whatever your ethnicity, familial 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 views. Each should continue to hold them dear, expressing, living, following them as they see fit and sharing them with the rest. Not one ethnic group, ancestral line or religion is superior to another or should overpower the others. It’s the working together while maintaining our individuality, our distinctiveness, our uniqueness that makes us great.

Those who attempt to control, force their beliefs, traditions, concepts, attitudes on others is what will destroy us. This is what causes the conflicts in families, churches, organizations, all levels of government and globally among neighboring countries. Those who give themselves superior regard will always cause conflict and division.

Other than Indigenous Peoples, all our ancestors arrived from somewhere else. We didn’t do things right by the First Nations and we did become selective. Once we established ourselves you would think after so many thousands of years we would have learned by now equality is the only key to peace and harmony.

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

Each of us counts and it’s the caring and acceptance that makes us great but it’s our diversity that makes us an exceptional pot of stew.

In my book the best stew in the world.

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