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How canadians see multiculturalism

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  1. Introduction
  2. Canadians and ethnic diversity
  3. Racism and prejudice
  4. The issue of Canadian identity
  5. Conclusion
  6. Bibliography

Canada is described as a multicultural society whereby different ethnic groups live together and try to respect their different cultural background. Canadian ethnic mosaic includes, in addition to the founding French and British groups, a large number of German, Chinese, Black, Dutch, Italian and Indo Pakistani people among others. In 1991, 31% of the Canadian population reported ethnic background other than French or British. There is no doubt that cultural and ethnic diversity has been a fundamental characteristic of Canada since its beginning. Yet, this does not mean that anyone who wants to immigrate to Canada can do so. The Canadian open door policy doesn't mean that the country could receive all the people who want to make a new beginning in Canada. In fact, immigration is rather selective as far as who can enter Canada and who can contribute to the country's economic and social development. Over the years, attitudes toward immigration and ethnic groups have changed with the adoption of new policies and laws which reflect Canada's approach to diversity. In this respect, the Official Languages Act of 1969 was issued. The purpose was to give French and English an equal status, rights and privileges at the federal level. The purpose was not to impose bilingualism on the Canadian population, but it aimed at giving the opportunity to the two founding groups of Canada to live together and respect each other differences. As a result, in 1982 according to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canadian parents who belong to the English or French linguistic group have the right to have their children educated in that language. Canada's linguistic duality has also paved the way to another policy based on the acceptance of new ethnic groups, their religion, customs and tradition. In fact, the purpose was to encourage those groups to maintain their cultural background while living in the Canadian society. There is no doubt that such a task is not easy to achieve, if we consider that cultural differences can be a source of conflict among groups. Nevertheless, during the first half of the twentieth century, Canada's immigration policy became more flexible and less stigmatizing to non-white immigrants. The objective of this policy was to supply a qualified labour force for industry, agriculture and settlement. During that period, the Canadian government met the expectation of its population which wanted the right of ethnic minorities to be respected. Thus, in 1967 modifications have been brought to the Immigration Act of 1962 which stated that: "Any suitably qualified person from any part of the world could be considered for immigration to Canada, without regard to his race, colour, national origin, or the country from which he comes" This means that the Canadian open door policy would be less discriminatory against non-European immigrants as it had previously been the case. As a result, people from different cultural backgrounds began to immigrate to Canada, thus enriching the country's ethnic mosaic. In the wake of this important change, an official policy of multiculturalism was a logical step in the acceptance of this ethnic diversity. In 1971, Canada was the first nation to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy. ?Multiculturalism within a bilingual framework? was announced by the Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau.This policy was based on the recognition of the Canadian multicultural distinctive identity; the purpose being to present Canada as a unique nation and to differentiate it from its neighbour, the United States. To the melting pot model, Canada preferred an ethno-cultural one. Thus in 1972, Pierre Elliot Trudeau stated that: "we become less like others; we become less susceptible to cultural, social or political envelopment by others". The multicultural policy was also aimed at developing and helping ethno-cultural programs and associations in order to protect ethnic differences and heritage. Thus, it is not surprising that such efforts were enshrined in 1982 in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It is plainly seen that the Canadian government took the initiative to make cultural pluralism the mainstay of Canadian democracy. Canadians like to think of themselves as welcoming new arrivals from all corners of the earth and rejecting all forms of discrimination. Is it really the case that Canadians are tolerant with those new corners? Has the ethno-cultural Canadian diversity divided the Canadian public opinion? In other words, is this image of a tolerant multicultural society justified or not? In this paper, I am going to try to see if there is any difference between policy and practice. Based on different national surveys; I will try to shed light on how Canadians are responding to their country's increasing multiculturalism. First, I will examine their attitudes toward diversity in general, then toward what we call visible minorities. Second, I will try to see if there are any discriminatory acts in the Canadian society and how they are seen by both ?white' Canadians and visible minorities. Finally, I will examine the Canadian identity and what makes Canadians proud to be Canadian. Is it their ethnic background, their country or language? What do they think of inter-ethnic marriage?

[...] This indicates that the promotion of multiculturalism and ethnic diversity by the Canadian government has at least succeeded in persuading many Canadians that people have equal opportunities on the job market. Thus, cultural diversity becomes a positive force and an important way to develop social cohesion, security and democracy. In valuing the differences between people, Canada has managed to maintain national unity. When asked "If multiculturalism lead to greater national unity" of Canadians answered "yes" which shows that not only ethnic diversity is accepted, it is considered as part of the Canadian identity. [...]

[...] This finding also shows that if differences do exist between Canadians as far as the concept of identity is concerned, it is not only related to immigration and ethnicity CONCLUSION Many people dreamt of a Canada in which the tolerance of cultural difference and acceptance of ethnic diversity would be the norm. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, several policies underpinning this dream were put in place: The Bill of Rights, the liberalized immigration policy, the Official Languages Act, the multiculturalism policy and finally the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. [...]

[...] As demonstrated in the figure below, Canadians were 63% to approve the policy of multiculturalism in 1989. However, between 1991 and 1995 this percentage decreased to reach 50% in 1995. Yet, this does not mean that Canadians started suddenly to be less attracted by the concept of cultural diversity. They had rather a normal reaction to an economic crisis which has diminished their quality of life. Multicultural Policy?Approval In fact, after September Canadians were 74% to respond positively to multiculturalism. [...]

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