Amirali Hassani | General Coordinator of WUSC UVic
The Martlet: What does it mean to you to be a Canadian, and what is a Canadian identity?
It’s funny, because Canada is such a melting pot of people. I am Iranian, I was born in Iran and I speak Farsi, but I’ve lived here my whole life. I think Canadian – besides being a permanent resident (laughs) – besides that, is just amalgamating into a society that is accepting of all different people. And that acceptance and tolerance is a huge part about being Canadian, versus having the accent or going to hockey games. That’s not a huge part of it – I think our attitude’s the biggest part.
In the context of WUSC’s mandate and your role at WUSC, what does Canada 150 means to you?
I mean, it’s a new country, that’s for sure. It’s a turning point for Canadian history, and I think also it signifies WUSC’s involvement. We have five new refugees [this year] – we usually only have two or three. That, marking five, and that correlating with this 150, kind of shows an increased tolerance of people in general.
What do you hear the refugee students say about Canada – why have they chosen Canada?
I can’t exactly speak for them, specifically, but Canada in itself, the opportunity here to have an education. Canada is a country that funds WUSC – it is an enriched environment, to the point where tax payers’ money can be allocated to these kinds of programs. So the recognition that Canada is a very developed country, and people know it, people know that for sure. Even Victoria, you just hone down to the best part of Canada (laughs). That’s why my parents moved here – we knew Canada was the place to have a good job. And half of it’s the country you want to go [to], but half of it’s trying to leave the country you’re in right now.
What would you like to see Canada be like in the next 150 years?
Oh man. The next 60 years that I’m around (laughs). The next 150 years? I guess the ones who have a lot of virtue, and the ones who can see tolerance and practice it, they should be the ones who have a voice. The few people that have a very high level of consciousness – if they can somehow be in office and speak for a large group of people – the society will flourish. Like, it’s already flourishing, but tolerance, virtue, and all the characteristics that go with virtue; people in a high role who have that as a primary factor, it would be an amazing society.
To read more interviews from the feature, click here. With files by Cormac O’Brien.