Type: History
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Multiculturalism Definition

Multiculturalism has encouraged embracing of diversity. Diversity of various cultures means a rich heritage for a particular country and region. However, it comes with a fair share of social stigma, such as racism and discrimination on the grounds of skin color, religion and gender. It is known that tolerance among two or more distinct races, tribes or religions can a times wreak havoc. The native communities might have hard times embracing another community, tribe or race and religion, therefore creating a conflict which might even end up having far reaching consequences. However, globalization has left us with no choice, but to try to find a middle ground amongst ourselves, and try to embrace one another.

Multiculturalism is truly without a doubt a part of Canada’s cultural heritage, and in fact, it has been instituted in its policy; therefore it is needless to say that Multiculturalism is a vibrant and real culture embraced by Canada.

Multiculturalism in Canada

Canada has always embraced and practiced multiculturalism as an umbrella to shelter all the diverse cultures in its society. It has enshrined all the cultural diversity on a cultural mosaic which is supreme in promoting and cultivating a society based upon values of mutual respect for Canadians of all ethnic or cultural backgrounds and ancestries.

Canada became the first country in 1971, to declare and implement multiculturalism as an official state policy. This saw the country’s three founding and early cultures- French, Aborigines and British, living harmoniously later joined by other cultures from other parts of the world.

On the 8th October 1971, Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau announced before the House of Commons, the official Canadian Policy of Multiculturalism which received affirming from the federal government and which made the policy see the light of the day. The policy eschewed the notion that the British and French were to be granted a special status based on their historical place in Canada’s grand scheme of things.The federal government policy statement asserted clearly that there was no official culture or ethnic group that was more special than another; all are equal and should be treated equally and fairly.

In fact, it is known that Multiculturalism is a cornerstone of Canada’s national identity and pride. Canada is a one of the pluralist countries in the world, with 40 per cent of its population is of non-French and non-British decent. It has been argued that Canada was and has always been a plural society dating back before the arrival of European settlers in the North America. Historically, in the past two centuries the British and French have always played the central focal point as far as multiculturalism is concerned, but the reality today clearly shows a different scenario. This is evident, according to the distribution of the population across the territories and provinces, for instance, the majority of the population represented in the West-ward direction from Ontario are of non-French and non-British origin.

Plural Society of Canada

The ethno-cultural traditions and racial origin illustrates vividly how Canada is a plural society. It also serves to illustrate the social ideas and values calculated in its society to accept and embrace cultural pluralism as a distinctive and positive strength creating a diverse society. The government has played an integral role by developing policies and initiatives aimed at recognizing and supporting ethno-cultural diversity or pluralism in all levels – the municipal, provincial and federal levels.

A census conducted in 1991, suggests that 16 per cent of first-generation Canadian citizens are born outside Canada. The census shows clearly the disparity in the distribution of ethnic and racial diversity across the various geographical areas. The results of the census further illustrate that in Canada’s fifteen urban centers consist of 90 per cent non-native inhabitants, where the rural areas and small towns comprise of small populations of non-natives bored in those geographical areas.

On the other hand, the census also shows that distribution of ethnic and racial diversity across Canada is not uniform. For instance, regions, such as Montreal and Quebec have relatively less population of individuals bored outside Canada. Another element of disparity in distribution of the population across the ethno-racial lines is for instance, in rural Quebec province, 95 per cent of the populations are native with ancestry in Canada. Toronto and Vancouver represent remarkable illustrations of urban pluralism, with each representing 30 per cent and 38 per cent of the population respectively, bored outside the country.

During the World-War II, the majority of Toronto’s residents had British origin, but today Canada’s largest city is a multicultural hub. The influx of immigrants from Europe has today changed the reality of the city, but with British still being the dominating faction and was mostly referred to as the “Ulster of the North” due to the Anglo-Protestants values and traditions. Chronologically, Toronto has attracted new inhabitants from far and wide. The legacy of Toronto as financial hub for the English culture has been wiped out slowly with immigrants. The English culture lost its influence and in its placed ushered in by residents from across the border. In terms of religion, Toronto has now more Roman Catholics faithful than any other religion.

On the other hand, in public schools, the majority of the children entrants are studying English as a second language and not primarily as a mother tongue. Multiculturalism in Canada has eloquently been manifested throughouthistory of Canada and has given birth to a multi-faceted society where the models of social interaction are balanced and harmonized to accommodate all cultures and races. Through accommodating ethno-racial pluralism Canada is regarded as a country where civic behaviors and social interaction are norms which needs to be supported and respected by all for a cohesive society. It encompasses harmonization of all the ethnic and racial differences into a one unity force, in order to make a better nation.

Multiculturalism is a real culture embraced and practiced by Canada. The Canada government through its policies and initiative has made the tremendous impact on multiculturalism, in that, it has gave rise to a society where each race and culture has a voice and equal opportunity to pursue and shape their destiny. Multiculturalism is purely bred as it speaks of a country that understood the importance of creating a unified nation in alignment with its democratic values and principles. Multiculturalism firmly upholds the rights of an individual in the society. Each municipal and provincial government has set different sets of multicultural policy goals; the federal has taken fully charge to pioneer multiculturalism.

Multiculturalism was fully articulated in 1971 and it was and has always been the responsibility of the federal government to oversee the policies and initiatives becoming a national blueprint of harmonizing and creating an ethno-racial society. In fact, in 1971, it was adopted with a view to be a barometer to the national response to ethno-racial pluralism.

Canada’s Multicultural Policy

Multiculturalism program created by the Department of Canadian Heritage has had a profound impact on helping participation of all including the immigrants into various spheres, such as economic, social and political spheres. Multiculturalism policy was a culmination of years of implementation of various legislations which helped in the final success of the policy. The Canadian Bill of Rights passed and introduced in 1960 saw an end to the federal agencies discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, origin or sex. In 1962 and 1967, saw amendment to Canada’s immigration Act and an introduction of Point System which allowed immigration of various citizens across the globe into the Canadian soil, Immigrants from Southern Europe, Eastern Europe Asia and West Indies.

Multicultural policy also came at the back drop of cases of inequalities, poverty and disparity in regional areas. In 1960’s, the social structure of Canada was in disarrays in that there were element of inequalities in terms of Canada pension plan, Unemployment insurance, Medicare and Canada Pension Plan. It was this back drop which helped to propel the social policy change of multiculturalism into an action plan.


Multiculturalism is truly a part of Canada’s ideal culture. Canada is among the few democratic nations to fully embrace ideals, values and principles which are vital in today’s globalization economic and social systems. Multiculturalism is a strength in that it provides exhibition of various people from different walks of life, different cultures, myriads of experiences and thus if harmonized cohesively can soar a society into greater heights, socially, economically and politically. Multiculturalism which is unique to Canada has clearly showed that ethno-racial diversity can be a significant social pillar in uniting a nation. Multiculturalism in Canada has shown that with the right political institution the democratic opportunity and right of every citizencan be respected and supported. The common mantra that, “there is strength in diversity” can be used to sum up multiculturalism

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