According to the authors, Canadians must seize the historical moment in order to re-examine and strengthen relationships between Arab-Canadian communities and the nation as a whole.
Ghanem (Two Boys from Aden College, 2012) and Nasrallah believe that recent events provide an ideal opportunity to engage with mainstream Canadian culture and explore “the potential convergence of values owing to the Arab Spring struggle for democracy, dignity, and development.” The authors begin by offering a brief overview of Canadian immigration policies—both past and present—as well as current demographic information about Arab-Canadians: location, age, education, employment, income and gender. After laying this groundwork, the authors then address the cultural diversity within disparate groups lumped together under the broad category of Arab-Canadians. For instance, Ghanem, who hosts a radio show in Ottawa called Dialogue with Diversity, draws upon past interviews with guests from different backgrounds in order to present their distinct experiences, challenges and triumphs. Of particular note is the chapter titled “The Hot Issue of Women and Hijab,” in which the realities of a culture clash are perhaps most evident: acceptable modes of dress, the prospect of dating outside of the community and even the practice of female genital mutilation. In the final chapter, Ghanem and Nasrallah call for greater understanding between the generations and also suggest ways for Arab-Canadians to fully participate in all aspects of society, from sports to politics, media, academia, business and the armed forces. As the authors posit in their central, overarching question: “[A]re we heading toward a new paradigm, a new phase of shedding that prejudicial state of mind that saw most Arabs as antimodernity, antidemocratic, and anti-assimilation to the mainstream Canadian value system?” Despite occasional editing issues, the book is well-organized and full of interesting factoids about Canadian immigration, both in general terms and specifically with regard to the Arab diaspora.
An essential guide for Arab-Canadians and a fascinating resource for anyone interested in the dynamics of immigration and assimilation.