Multiculturalism in Canada:
The Benefits of a Multicultural Society
Canada is a very interesting country, mainly due to its diversity. The weather in Canada can be both freezing and very hot. Some land is rocky and mountainous, while other places are composed of flat, rolling hills. And in Canada, you can find many different races, from Asian to Latin, African to Indian. Canada is the most multicultural country in the world, and a lot of Canada's development and success can be attributed to immigrants coming into Canada (Samuda, 1984). Yet not all people agree that multiculturalism has had only positive effects on Canada. There are some drawbacks that are due to Canada's policies on immigration and multiculturalism. However, by examining key points and facts concerning multiculturalism in Canada, it is evident that Canada's policies on multiculturalism have had mainly positive effects on Canadian society.
Canada was the very first country in the world to introduce a multicultural policy (Satzewich, 1992). In 1969, the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism heard many ethnic spokespersons argue that Canada should adopt the idea of a "cultural mosaic", where different cultures would each contribute to Canada, making the country unified through each culture's uniqueness. This was a different concept than the United
States idea of a "melting pot", where there would be many different cultures, yet they would all have "American values", which would be the main factor that united them as a country. The Royal Commission agreed with this proposed policy, and presented it to the Government of Canada. Two years later, the policy was accepted while Pierre Elliot Trudeau was Prime Minister. In 1982, the policy became law, which helped to settle any racial and ethnic problems (Satzewich, 1992).
In 1997, the Department of Canadian Heritage restructured the federal Multicultural Program. The renewed program worked towards three main goals: identity - fostering a society in which people of all backgrounds feel a sense of belonging and attachment to Canada; civic participation - developing citizens who are actively involved in shaping the future of their various communities and their country; social justice - building a nation that ensures fair and equitable treatment and that respects and accommodates people of all origins (Internet Site, http://www.communication.gc.ca/facts/multi_e.html).
The Multicultural Policy in Canada states that all people are equal, and can participate as a member of society, regardless of racial, cultural, ethnic, or religious background. Multiculturalism strives to preserve people's cultural identity, while at the same time ensuring that common Canadian values are upheld (Reitz, 1980). Canada's policy on immigration has changed over the years, reflecting societal views and economical conditions. Yet no matter how much the policy changed, the effects of this policy are
very evident. Close to 10% of the adult population of Canada are visible minorities, and this amount is expected to double within the next twenty years (Satzewich, 1992). Visible minorities are "persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour" (Employment and Immigration Canada, 1987). This means that the immigrants coming into Canada are not only from European descent; rather, they are coming from other continents, such as Africa, South America, and Asia.
Before 1961, 90% of the immigrants coming into Canada were of European descent. Yet in 1981, Europeans only constituted for 25% of the immigrants coming into Canada (Satzewich, 1992). This means that 75% of immigrants coming into Canada in 1981 were from Asia, South America, etc. It is obvious that Canada's policy on multiculturalism has had a profound effect on Canada and its people. However, does this mean that multiculturalism in Canada has had a positive effect on society?
Many will argue that Canada...
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