Toleration, Appeasement; Equality, Harmony.
The topic of “multiculturalism,” has been a hotly debated issue since the end of the colonizing era. In their endeavor to find the best policy for multiculturalism, different countries opted for different options. States that chose to integrate cultural minorities into their mainstream society had to find the solution that would provide the most equality among citizens; a solution that would later translate into national solidarity and social cohesion. While some countries have strived to assimilate cultural minorities, others have attempted to “turn a blind eye” and tolerate them. Multiculturalism for me means to aid the integration of minorities into the mainstream society by granting them group-specific cultural rights. Providing group-specific rights would mean providing equality for all citizens by making up for the minority’s reduced status they succumbed when integrating into society. This paper will contrast and compare the different forms of multiculturalism policies and will ultimately prove that creating citizen equality by granting group-specific rights to deserving cultural groups is the fairest and most rewarding approach to dealing with multiculturalism.
During colonialism, conquering powers made many mistakes in their attempts to deal with the aboriginals of their conquered lands. As Kymlicka (2002) declares, the colonialists’ first instinct was to either banish the indigenous people into isolated reserves or force them to abandon their culture and be assimilated into the new Western culture. The colonialists’ rationale was that if the aboriginals became citizens, they would incorporate themselves into the Western culture by gaining equal rights and would assume a common identity with all citizens. Although this sounds like a well justified argument, when explored in depth, it is easily realized that solely granting citizenship to the aboriginals wouldn’t necessarily lead to integration. This can be determined by the assumption that colonialist state citizens wouldn’t automatically welcome these new ‘different’ citizens with open arms. (Kymlicka, 2002) In addition, the First Nations, along with most other cultures, would predictably not want to shun their own culture and adopt a new one. This is especially true when the cultures in the process of being assimilated are subject to violence and forced compliance to the colonizers. Historically, the negative results associated with assimilation prove that assimilation will not work as a form of integration and a new solution based around groups being able to maintain their previous cultural ties would have to be utilized.
After failing to succeed with assimilation attempts, the British colonizers of Canada opted for the option of banishment of natives; an option that would prove to have even more negative implications. Through a series of treaties that First Nation leaders were coerced to sign, the aboriginals of Canada were steadily removed of their rights and their territories. Eventually, these aboriginals were confined to reserves where they could no longer practice their previous lifestyles and their society was essentially ruined. Present day aboriginal peoples of Canada still suffer the consequences of their ancestor’s rights being violated during the colonizing era. Furthermore, due to the actions of the English colonizers centuries ago, the Canadian government today still faces the plight of the First Nations’ ruined society. The problems in First Nation reserves range from unemployment, to alcoholism, to high suicide rates; making it clear that the aboriginal peoples have not had success adapting to modern society effectively. Thus, I feel it is now the government’s duty to support the Canadian aboriginal groups by not only providing them with financial assistance, but also by granting them with...
Bibliography: Kymlicka, Will (2002). Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Introduction, Second Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mookherjee, Monica in Catriona McKinnon (2008). Issues in Political Theory: Multiculturalism. New York: Oxford University Press.
Okin, Susan Moller (1999). Is Multiculturalism Bad for Women?. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
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