Windsor: Our Diversity is Our Strength

By City of Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens | March 22nd, 2021

One of the great honours for me as Mayor is representing individuals and families from a wide range of cultures and nationalities. Windsor’s close proximity to the United States, low cost of living, prosperous economy, abundant natural areas, warm weather and friendly residents have all combined to make it a destination of choice for people from around the world. 

More than 25% of Windsor’s population was born outside of Canada, making it one of the most diverse cities in Canada. That means about one in four residents in our community has left loved ones and a familiar way of life to take a chance on the many opportunities for economic and personal growth that our city has to offer.

Quote on Windsor DiversityIf you are one of these residents, you have my utmost gratitude. I wholeheartedly welcome and applaud your courage and determination to seek a better life for yourself and your family in our community.

Immigrants to Windsor have consistently proven they have the skills, knowledge, grit and resourcefulness we need to keep our city and country moving forward. That is one of the reasons we proudly opened our doors to more than a thousand Syrian refugees in 2015.

It is why our institutions of higher education increased recruitment efforts, multiplying the number of international students attending our College and University from a few hundred a decade ago to thousands in 2020. Windsor has historically stood out as a sanctuary for those seeking a better way of life. It was the first stop along the Underground Railroad where fugitive enslaved Americans finally found freedom. We have a long history of embracing residents and visitors from all faiths, ethnicities, nationalities and cultural backgrounds.

The Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County (MCC) has been at the forefront of helping us live up to our reputation as a welcoming community. For nearly 50 years, the MCC has led efforts to make all those who join our community feel like they belong and have a fair chance to thrive. From providing professional interpretation and translation services, English classes, orientation and settlement assistance, this small, non-profit organization plays an outsized role in building a solid foundation for newcomers to succeed.

In addition to offering these important services to individuals and families, the MCC works hard to cultivate inclusion and help us better appreciate the values of diversity. Each year it hosts a number of community events that pay tribute to the cultures and people that make Windsor special, while promoting understanding and harmony.

 Key among these is the popular Carrousel of the Nations, an award-winning and much-anticipated summertime festival featuring global villages that celebrate unique foods, music, dancing and customs from around the world. Generations of residents and visitors have made countless happy memories and established strong social bonds across cultures over the 45-year history of this Windsor tradition.

While the COVID-19 pandemic derailed plans for the regularly scheduled program this year, the MCC quickly adapted the festivities to an online format so that residents could enjoy the lively performances, and even taste international flavours thanks to takeout and delivery services, from the comfort and safety of their homes. Other MCC-supported initiatives, like the Children’s Art Exchange which features creative works by youngsters from our Twin Cities abroad, also took on a digital format to keep the spirit of multiculturalism alive.

 I look forward to being able to gather safely in person once again to enjoy and celebrate one another’s company and cultures. Until then, I thank the MCC for launching this new community blog initiative to help us stay connected and informed during these challenging times so that we can continue to do our best to stay well, stay home and stay safe.