Canada is among the many countries that are regarded as a multicultural societies. It is with no doubt that with the increasing number of immigrants that Canada is recording annually, Multiculturalism will remain part of Canadian’s national identity. A recent survey indicates that Canadians view Multiculturalism comes second in their identity after the Charter of Rights and freedoms. The existing literature indicates that Multiculturalism in Canada emerged as a smart way of managing the crisis.. During this period, Canada was experiencing political agility, and the Canadians were willing to compromise in Multiculturalism as a way of uniting and building the nation. Due to the immense roles that Multiculturalism was believed to play, Canada adopted its first multiculturalism policy in 1971 under the leadership of Pierre Trudeau. Multiculturalism is considered to be a byproduct of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism; thus, its adoption would aid in providing a solution to the rising francophone nationalism, especially in Quebec, thus increasing the cultural diversity in all parts of Canada.. Although Multiculturalism has had positive impacts on the economic and political aspects of Canada, its relationship with Canadian’s social inclusion and belonging remains a controversial topic. This essay, therefore, seeks to provide a background on Multiculturalism in Canada, how it is a multiculturalism sociological fact in Canada, events that led to Multiculturalism, and its relationship to social inclusion in Canada.
Background information and Analysis
Multiculturalism is a concept that has been used to refer to Canada as a country that recognizes and embraces the cultural aspects of different groups; however, this concept can be interpreted in different ways, both as a sociological fact and as a policy. When viewing Multiculturalism from the sociological lens, it denotes to the presence of people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds; on the other hand, at the policy level, it refers to managing diversity by using official initiatives developed at the federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal domains.
At the start of the 21st century, Canada was considered a rapidly progressive, diverse, and multicultural society. However, until the start of the 1940s, Canada started viewing itself concerning the English and French’s cultural, linguistic, and political identities. During the early 1600s, the French and British colonizers began making their way into Canada. During this time, the Canadian population primarily constituted 60 percent British and 30 percent, French. The increasing number of colonizers also saw a reduction in the number of people born outside the country drop significantly during the great depression. According to the existing literature, the declining birth rates in Canada and massive immigration resulted in the reduction in the British population by approximately 40 percent, while that of the French reduced by 27 percent. A recently released ethnic survey indicates that approximately 21 percent of the Canadian population are of British ancestry, 8 percent are of Canadian ancestry. In comparison, 7 percent consist of a mix of the two ancestries.
During the arrival of the colonizers and immigrants, they experienced barriers in effectively interacting with community members. For instance, the Asians experienced numerous hurdles, an aspect that put a halt on their immigration during the 1800s and the early 1900s. Subsequently, different ethnic groups that did not migrate also faced numerous barriers, thus preventing them from taking part in crucial political, economic, and social matters. The immigrants were also secluded and treated unequally compared to the general population. Such barriers are among the aspects that prompted the Canadian government to institute different policies to support inclusivity and cultural diversity within the country.
Events that resulted in Multiculturalism in Canada
A series of events in Canada during the 1970s prompted the drafting and passage of multiculturalism Acts. The main events that contributed to its emergence are outlined below.
Immigration is among the leading aspects that have contributed to the emergence of multicultural policies within Canadian Society. The existing legislative restrictions, including the Chinese Immigration Act that only favored the British, Americans, and Europeans, were amended during the early 1960s, promoting the arrival of more people from different parts of the globe to Canada.. A report published by the Canadian society indicates that by 2006, the Canadian had widely grown, and it had approximately thirty-four ethnic groups, each consisting of at least one thousand members. Currently, Canada is among the countries with the highest capita immigration that is accompanied by economic policies and family reunification..
The Image of The Head Tax That Was Introduced to Control Chinese Immigration.
The emergence of ethnic enclaves is an additional way through which Multiculturalism emerged in Canadian society. Many immigrants in Canada preferred settling in the major urban areas. The formed enclaves served as a home away from home for the immigrants while at the same time offering a unique experience of the different cultural practices within Canada. At the beginning of the 20th century, China towns were considered the filthy and derelict towns. Over time, the different cultures residing in promoted it into becoming one of the worth-preserving tourist attractions Centres within Canada. To date, these towns are considered crucial for the cultural significance that they drought to Canadians. With the increasing number of immigrants and the need for a culturally diverse society in Canada, the multiculturalism Act was formulated to fulfill this role..
The Multicultural Act and its Effects on the Canadians
The Multiculturalism Act was passed into law in 1988 after the emergence of the Quebec crisis. The primary aim of the Act was to recognize the multicultural heritage as revealed in the Canadian Charter of the Rights and Freedoms. The Act focuses on emphasizing the promotion and recognition of diversity in Canada, active participation of every individual in the Canadian society, and having respect for, inclusivity, and equal treatment of the diverse cultures in Canada. Lastly, this Act also strives to ensure freedom for all members of Canadian society to preserve, heighten and share their cultural heritage by eliminating all the existing barriers to their full participation. Based on the provisions made in this Act, different accommodations had to be made to help promote full and equitable participation and reflect the cultural and racial diversity in Canada. When analyzing the effects of the multiculturalism Act, it reveals that the Canadian government was making active attempts to integrate visible minorities and new immigrants into the Canadian Society.
Social Effects of the Multiculturalism Act on the Canadian Subjects
The passage of the Multiculturalism Act led to various social impacts on Canadian subjects, especially the minority groups. The passage of this Act prompted most of the policies to shift from assimilation to integration. By providing accommodations to the minority groups, the multiculturalism Act had to put pressure on the immigrants to take active steps towards their integration into a society. Immigrants often experience challenges in being successfully integrated in a society.. Occasionally, integration may take different forms and consist of economic integration in the labor market and political integration into the electoral process. Bypassing the multicultural policy, minority groups in Canada were privileged to participate in different social activities, including elections, and actively engage in various economic activities.
Every person desires to be successfully included in the activities and daily undertakings of the communities they reside in, be it at the workplace, at home, or in the general community setting. With regard to Multiculturalism, social inclusion is a value-based concept that involves the identification of the type of society one desires to stay in. An inclusive society generally constitutes one that has widely shared social experiences and active involvement of every member through the provision of equal opportunities and life chances.. It is possible to conceptualize social inclusion with regard to policies and conditions that can lead to inequalities. Before the passage of the multicultural policy, there was massive segregation and discrimination of minority groups.. A large section of minority groups lived in secluded places with limited or no resources for development. Most of them were also prevented from engaging in most of the cultural practices, including worshiping, speaking their languages, or using traditional medicines. The Europeans believed that the minority practices were inferior and needed to be abolished. With such barriers to social inclusion being in place, the Canadian government, in collaboration with the Laidlaw Foundation, strived to institute measures that would lead to the conceptualization and practicing of social inclusion in every part of the Canadian society.
The inception of the Multiculturalism Act has resulted in more good with regard to the social inclusion of the different groups in Canada. Findings from a study conducted by Angus Reid Poll indicate that 55 percent of the Canadian population agree that Multiculturalism has been very good. Scholars who support multiculturalism argue that this policy has shaped the Canadian’s social way of life since the implementation of this Act. Immigrants often experience numerous barriers in being successfully integrated into a new society; however, since Multiculturalism supports equal treatment and opportunities for everyone, this policy promoted social inclusion by removing barriers that could prevent them from actively participating in Canadian life. This observation is backed up by findings from a study conducted by Kymlica (2010). According to this study, the multiculturalism Act provided high levels of mutual identification and acceptance to every person staying on Canadian soil, including immigrants. The removal of barriers further contributed to higher intermarriage rates and higher levels of official language proficiency.. Subsequently, this policy increased the chances of all the immigrants becoming Canadian citizens, increasing their chances of participating in political activities and assuming leadership positions.
Multiculturalism Act also led to the emergence of the sense of shared identity and belonging. A report released by the General Social Survey indicates that more than 84 percent of immigrants and non-immigrants reported high levels of social identity. When analyzing these findings, one aspect that may have contributed to an increased shared identity and a sense of belonging is that no common ethnicity of culture is to be followed. Thus people can freely do what they feel is right based on their values without developing feelings of being undermined. Additionally, Multiculturalism provided a platform for Canadians to share liberal democratic norms, giving every person the freedom to freely participate in every activity.
Dissociation between language and Culture
Before the passage of the Multiculturalism Act, there was a close link between language and culture in Canadian society. The existence of bilingualism and biculturalism provided a foundation for the French to establish their language as official in Canada. According to the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and biculturalism, language was one of the primary ways through which culture could be expressed, and that language and culture serve as a vehicle that cannot be dissociated.. By French being announced as an official language in Canada, it was a sign of preserving the French Canadians and acknowledging that they are equal to their English Canadian counterparts. Despite the above advantage, adoption of this multiculturalism policy meant that the Canadian government needed to make an official recognition of all the other languages from the minority cultural groups. According to a newspaper written by the Royal commission in 1986, it argued that if “the Canadian government was determined at preserving all the cultures just like it had done to the French, then all languages that Canadians speak should be given national statuses as well. With such ongoing debates, the Multiculturalism Act resulted in adopting two official languages in Canada. However, this does not mean that one culture is preferred over the other.
The passage of bilingualism was associated with numerous social benefits, especially to the minority groups. Through this Act, Canadians were able to enhance their cultural heritage while at the same time achieving equality in regard to enjoying equal economic resources social and political life. Since the Act also supported the preservation and enhancement of other languages other than French and English, the Multiculturalism Act laid a foundation for Canadians from different backgrounds to feel appreciated and valued. The continued expressions through interactions also laid a foundation for the minority to exchange information and spread their cultures from one community to the other.. Additionally, bilingualism was vital since it assisted the minority groups in identifying with the shared values that define them. I believe the passage of the multiculturalism Act not only favored the minority groups such as the First Nations, Inuit, and Metis but also other ethnocultural communities and descendants from previous immigrant groups across the globe.
Multiculturalism is a concept that emerged during 1930 but was adopted into the Canadian way of life in 1988 when an Act of parliament was crafted. Multiculturalism involves recognizing the diversity of individuals concerning race, national or ethnic origin, culture, or national origin. Canada is considered as a culturally diverse nation since it embraces individuals from different races. Before 1988, a large section of immigrants and minority groups were treated with impartialities and denied to participate in various activities within the Canadian social sphere. However, the adoption of the Multiculturalism Act was linked to numerous benefit and are still embraced in modern Canadian society. Some of the positive benefits include higher rates of intermarriages fluency in the nation’s official languages. The Act has also promoted a sense of belonging and shared identity among Canadians. Conclusively, the multiculturalism Act has been and continues to play key roles in promoting the social inclusion of every culture in Canada.
Day, Richard JF. Multiculturalism and the history of Canadian diversity. University of Toronto Press, 2018: 253-269.
Guo, Shibao, and Lloyd Wong. “Revisiting multiculturalism in Canada.” Rotterdam [The Netherlands]: Boston (2015): 19-49.
Hyman, Ilene, Agnes Meinhard, and John Shields. “The role of multiculturalism policy in addressing social inclusion processes in Canada.” Canadian Multicultural Education Foundation 1 (2011).
Kymlicka, Will. “The precarious resilience of multiculturalism in Canada.” American Review of Canadian Studies 51, no. 1 (2021): 122-142.