Celebrating Cultural Diversity

May 19, 2023

The United Nations’ World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development (WDCDD) is observed on May 21 to remind us of the importance of cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue, and the protection of human rights for all people. This international day recognizes the rich tapestry of cultures that exist globally and emphasizes the need for mutual understanding, respect, and cooperation among different cultures. This work begins locally through our knowledge and understanding of the diverse communities and cultures in Nova Scotia.

Appreciating the diversity of the wide range of cultures, traditions, customs, and beliefs of those around us encompasses language, arts, cuisine, religion, social practices, and world view. Recognizing and appreciating cultural diversity is crucial to combatting xenophobia, fostering inclusivity, social cohesion, and sustainable development. It acknowledges that every culture has inherent value and contributes to our collective history, present, and future.

The UN’s WDCDD provides an opportunity to reflect on the importance of intercultural dialogue and open and  respectful communication between individuals or groups from different cultural backgrounds. Through dialogue, people share their perspectives, experiences, and knowledge, leading to greater understanding, acceptance, and respect. This helps to bridge gaps, break down stereotypes, and dispel prejudices, promoting peaceful coexistence and harmony in increasingly diverse societies.

The importance of the cultural and creative sectors in fostering relationships between diverse communities is often overlooked, but its vibrancy and potential to inspire change is immense. As we enter into festival season in Nova Scotia, I encourage you to attend the many cultural celebrations taking place throughout the province, joining in to enjoy music, art, history, food and story-telling. Artistic expression can be a way to learn about different cultures and traditions, a uniting force that reveals shared interests beneath our unique differences.

Protecting human rights is an integral part of the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development. Human rights are universal, inalienable entitlements that every individual possesses by virtue of being human, regardless of their cultural background. Cultural diversity should never be used as an excuse to violate or marginalize human rights. Rather, it should be celebrated as a facet of human rights, ensuring that every person is treated with dignity, equality, and fairness.

Promoting cultural diversity and protecting human rights go hand in hand. Cultural diversity can only thrive in an environment where human rights are respected and upheld. When cultural diversity is valued, and human rights are protected, societies become more inclusive, harmonious, and prosperous. It allows individuals to express their identities, preserve their heritage, and participate fully in social, economic, and political life without fear of discrimination or persecution.

On this World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission calls upon all residents of Nova Scotia to embrace cultural differences, foster understanding, and promote inclusivity. By recognizing and respecting cultural diversity while upholding human rights, we are creating a world where all individuals can live, contribute and thrive.

 The preceding is a statement from Joseph Fraser, Director & CEO of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission