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Victors — not, victims!
Aim to teach our kids to strive for excellence.
Roy Ratnavel
EVP, Head of Distribution
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I have been asked for my thoughts on diversity and racism in Canada. No doubt this is because I am a South Asian immigrant who rose from nothing to assume an executive position within my organization and a leadership role on Bay Street. Frankly, I had thought about this issue a lot — but, not in the way it’s framed by modern identity politics.

The freedom and the opportunities I enjoy in Canada are precious to me. I state this at the outset, because I grew up in a country (Sri Lanka) where freedom is a rare commodity, and the slaughter of innocents is common.

Coming from such a background, I’m all too familiar with racism. Having said that, as a minority I’m fully aware sometimes I have to deal with racists — and, ignorant-people out there. Also that many people around the world and in Canada are suffering today from the historical legacies of racism and from facing racism and ignorance in their daily lives. No doubt, there is still much work to be done to end inequality in Canada.

It is my view that our society has been already hijacked by those who play identity politics. This dangerous trend classifies people primarily by race and skin colour. This used to be the very definition of racism. It is dangerous to allow people to think that racism can be eradicated, and morality can be legislated. And — the notion that if it isn’t, it is acceptable to spend one’s life in a state of victimhood, grievance collection and blame-shifting for every single failure to achieve one’s dreams, because your skin colour defines who you are. What a ludicrous, silly claim!

We should always stand up and speak up loudly against injustice and address the incidents of racism whenever it occurs in a productive and pragmatic way. It is the only position that is consistent with our own morals and democratic ideals. But — if we keep telling our children that there is some big shadowy white figure out there who is going to keep them down in life, they’re not going to try. Fundamentally, it doesn’t make a huge difference on them in terms of their actual potential, and their ability to do great things.

We should aim to teach our kids to strive for excellence. Currently, excellence has been overtaken by all this nonsensical ideology of some nameless boogeyman oppressing them because of the colour of their skin. I can’t imagine anything more harmful to kids’ self-worth or confidence than teaching them that the whole system is rigged against them. Why would they ever bother trying? What a horrible thing to do to a child!

Like with many thought experiments — the distortion of base definition is the problem. Social justice is a blank slate of 'access to opportunity' to anyone within the society. Not equity in resulting outcomes. Equal opportunity doesn’t guarantee equal outcome. Trying to equalize the outcome is unfair — and, an experiment in futility. Empty catchphrases with no accountability for action are not going to get us there. We must work tirelessly to ensure everyone has access to education, skills development and training, and a fair shot at opportunity. We must create corporate cultures that are true meritocracies in hiring, promotions and compensation. There is an imperative within all humans to make a mark. Action is what defines us. Action, not suffering.

How you feel is determined by how you think about yourself — and, whatever situation you find yourself in. And — whatever the situation you find yourself is not always yours to choose — but, your response always is. Humanity thrives on hope. Do not allow bunch of navel-gazing pessimists infect our kids with their gaseous doom. It is important to keep reminding our kids that victimhood isn’t a virtue — so, we can raise honourable adults of future who can shape this country and the world better than we have found it. If you allowed prejudice against you to define the sense of who you are — none of us would ever have succeeded as individuals or as a group in this country. My beloved Tamil people — don’t fall for it. More importantly — don’t let your kids get sucked into the vortex of such poisonous chalice! Raise them to be victors — not, victims! 

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Roy Ratnavel
EVP, Head of Distribution | CI Global Asset Management:
An accidental Sri Lankan by birth, unapologetic Tamil by heritage, and a proud Canadian...
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