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Understanding Multiculturalism

Discuss About The Multiculturalism National Competitiveness?

The global social, political and economic scenario has over the years experienced considerable dynamics and changes, with the changes in the life style of people across the world. The societies in the contemporary global framework are becoming increasingly integrating, cognitive and multidimensional, much of which can be attributed to the global phenomena like Globalization, liberalization and similar occurrences (Isin 2013). These phenomena have contributed in increasing migration of global population from one place to another, thereby bringing multilateral diversities in the societies. In this context, the term “Multiculturalism” has become a term of increased global reality and familiarity (Modood 2013).

The term multiculturalism refers the situation in the society, where there remains the presence of different cultural groups, ethnicities, cultures and different other diversities among the population and where all these diversities are given equal respect and none of the members of the diversified population feel neglected or unimportant, attributing to his or her cultural or ethnic traits (Kymlicka 2012). With the global societies increasingly becoming diversified, the aspects of multiculturalism are becoming increasingly important for the governing authorities to incorporate in their operational and regulatory framework.

In this context, one of the leading global economies, which have incorporated the aspect of multiculturalism in its social, political and economic aspects, is Canada. The government of the country has a highly popular and widespread multiculturalism policy framework, working in the system for several decades (Berry 2013). Implemented with the objectives of accepting diversities of all types in the population and of improving the welfare of the population as a whole, without disrespecting or depriving any particular cultural or ethnic groups, there have been mixed implications of the policy of the country on the different sectors of the demography of the country. Keeping these mixed implications of the multiculturalism policy of Canada into consideration, the concerned report tries to analyze the existing debate regarding whether the concerned policy of Canada is integrative or disruptive for the population of the country.

Canada, over the last few decades, has been considered as one of the most culturally inclusive countries, proudly hosting a population consisting of diverse religion, culture, ethnicity and diversities, coming from all parts of the world. The country, originally being resided by the British and French people, who migrates to Canada centuries ago, now welcomes immigrants from all parts of the world (Ng and Metz 2015). Welcoming immigrants of all sorts, including war refugees, people living their home countries due to economic turmoil as well as due to natural calamities and others, the country is often cited as an example of peaceful integration and co-existence of highly diverse and multicultural population (Picot and Sweetman 2012).

Much of this can be attributed to the presence of the notion of multiculturalism not only in the population in general, but also in the operational system and policy framework of the country. The Multiculturalism Act, which was announced in the country on 1971, is the primary and one of the most crucial steps taken by the government of the country, towards the preservation and increase in the welfare of the increasingly culturally diverse society of the country, owing to the immensely high numbers of immigration of global population to the country with time.

Canada's Multiculturalism Policy

Canada, in the 1960s, was primarily a bilingual as well as bicultural society, with predominance of the British and the French residents and also with less recognition of the different other ethnic and cultural groups which were consistently increasing in the aspects of size as well as contribution and implication on the development of the economic as well as socio-political scenario of the country (Mann 2012). The relative negligence of the contribution of  the other cultural and ethnic minorities in the country led to dissatisfaction on their part. To address this situation, the Royal Commission of 1963, established to study the cultural contributions of all the ethnic and diverse cultural groups in the country, recommended the implementation of the policy of multiculturalism in the country. The policy was first announced in October 1971, by the then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau as an official policy in the operational framework of the government of Canada (Kymlicka 2012).

The primary working notion behind the declaration of the policy of multiculturalism in Canada was that the “land of immigration” could not be defined by one single culture or ethnicity and the government of the country accepted the cultural diversities of each of the members of the population with equal respect, thereby implying that each of the cultural traits in the country are considered to be essential for the development of the society (Berry and Sam 2013). The main objective of the Multiculturalism Policy of Canada was to promote inter as well as intra-group respect for all the cultural and ethnic diversities and to provide a cohesive and peaceful environment where all the ethnic and culturally diversified group were given the freedom to preserve, practice and develop their own cultures, free from any bias any inhibition or intimidation (Dewing 2018). It is different from the notion of cultural assimilation or cultural melting pot in the sense that while assimilation promotes the mixture of different cultures in the society such that there does not remain any way to distinguish between individuals with respect to their cultures or ethnicities, multiculturalism talks about preserving and highlighting all the cultural diversities equally (Levin et al. 2012).

The primary ways in which the government of the country committed to support multiculturalism in the following ways:

  • By providing necessary assistance to different cultural groups in the aspect of equal growth and development of all of these diverse groups
  • By helping the members of each of these culturally diverse group to participate in all the social economic and political activities of the country without any inhibition
  • By promoting creative exchanges between the various cultural groups of the society, thereby contributing to the cultural harmony, which is expected to facilitate wholesome development of the country ( 2018)
  • By assisting the members of the different cultural and linguistic group in learning the two official languages of the country, French or English

This policy was augmented by the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, established in 1988, which was implemented with the rationale of respecting and celebrating the diversities in the population of the country. This act included several additional components, of which the primary ones being:

  • Recognition of the rights of the Aboriginals of the country
  • Recognizing other languages too, although the official languages were still French and English
  • Accepting and protecting the multicultural heritage of the country
  • Implementing and promoting equal rights and opportunities to all the members of the society irrespective of their race, caste, culture and religion
  • Recognizing the rights of the different and diverse cultural minorities residing in the country (Bakhov 2013)

The multiculturalism policy of the country has facilitated immigration from all part of the globe, even more in the last few decades, thereby making the population of the country one of the most culturally diverse population in the world, as can be seen from the following figure:

There have been mixed implications and reactions towards the Federal Law of Multiculturalism in the country, which has over the years given rise to various debates regarding whether the policy has actually succeeded in building up an integrative environment of equal rights and opportunities for all its residents or not.

Impact of Multiculturalism Policy on Canada's Population

The Multiculturalism Act of Canada can undoubtedly be considered as one of the iconic steps of the country towards a cultural integration and building up of an environment where every diversity is celebrated. There have been several crucial positive implications of this act, which has to a considerable extent helped the country in progressing in all the spheres, including social, economic, demographic and political, with the benefits of the progress of the country expected to be percolating to all the members of the population equally ("How Does Canada Benefits From Multiculturalism?" 2018). These implications are discussed as follows:

Economic Advantages- One of the primary advantages of the multiculturalism in the country is the economic progress in the country over the last few decades. Over the years, huge number of people from all parts of the world have been migrating in the country, with different objectives, including those of educational opportunities, job scopes, health care facilities or an overall better quality of living. The inflow of huge number of international students in the universities of the country have contributed significantly in the economic abundance of the country, acting as one of  the decent income source of the economy of Canada (Kymlicka 2015). Apart from that, a considerable share of the full time employee force also consists of immigrants, who by the virtue of their diverse culture and operational methods, have contributed significantly in developing the economy of the country.

Social Advantages- The inflow of people from all parts of the world has also helped the country in developing a  hugely diverse cultural base. The multiculturalism policy, in this context promotes these diversities hugely, through all the broadcasting mediums and through the activities arranged by  the government institutions, which in turn has helped in developing cultural harmony and tolerance in most parts of the country, thereby contributing to a healthier and happier population (Bloemraad and Wright 2014).

Political Advantages- The promotion of cultural acceptance and respect of all the diversities by the policy, has considerably contributed in inducing the notion of acceptance and tolerance among the residents of the country, which has been observed in many instances where the Canadian citizens have welcomes refugees and distressed populations from all parts of the world. The policy has succeeded to a considerable extent in incorporating a sense of humanity and solidarity for the fellow human beings, irrespective of their cultural diversities, among the residents of the country (Triadafilopoulos 2012). The Canadian citizens are often seen to participate in each other’s cultural celebrations and Canada seems to acknowledge and preserve the cultural histories of different ethnic groups by providing social recognitions to their various dates and incidents of significance. These activities in turn have helped in maintaining political stability in the country despite of the presence of so many diverse cultures with huge ideological differences.

However, in spite of the presence of several instances of positive implications and integrations in the multiculturalism policy framework there remains several issues of concern in the society of Canada, which can also be attributed to the concerned policy, which are discussed as follows:

Debate about Canada's Multiculturalism Policy

Creating sense of differences- The primary negative consequence of the multiculturalism policy, which was implemented with the objective of integrating all the cultural diversities and promoting the same, has been often seen to result in a sense of difference among the Canadian citizens, from one another. This problem is becoming even more apparent in the recent period, with the first generation of the citizens facilitated by the multiculturalism policy are coming to the positions of power (Winter 2015). These citizens, in the quest of promoting and developing their own traditions and culture groups have been found to engage intentionally or unintentionally in the process of discrimination according to culture groups.

Cultural extremism- With the country incorporating different cultures and population of different religious beliefs and different magnitudes of tolerance or intolerance towards other’s diversities, the instances of cultural extremism have been increasing in the country. These include the incidents of honor killing of Aqsa Parvez, the disruptions against the Tamil asylum seekers, the disturbances in the aboriginal communities, and similar incidents.

Unequal distributions of amenities- The conditions of the aboriginals, in terms of health, nutrition, chronic illness, family disturbances and disabilities have been found to be alarmingly increasing in spite of the disappearing gaps in terms of modernization of residential facilities, income and schooling. Much of this has been attributed to the policy of social integration of Canada.

Criminal activities- Many scholars have pointed  out towards the increase in the rate of crimes of both trivial and of serious nature in the population of the country, with the increasing incorporation and integration of diverse population from all parts of the world, with different types of social, economic and political background. This has been seen as a threat to the social and economic harmony of the country, by many Canadian citizens, especially the British and the French residents, who are increasingly becoming worried about the welfare and security of their lineages in the country (Perry 2012).


From the above discussion, it can be suggested that the federal policy of Multiculturalism in Canada, though being one of the most celebrated and highlighted social policies in the country as well as in the global scenario, the policy has shown several serious drawbacks. The implications of the policy have not been always integrative and have also created disruptions in the social, political and economic progress of the country, the effects being even more prominent in the recent period. However, the policy cannot  be completely categorized as a disruptive or failed one as it has contributed positively too in building up Canada the way it is today and in making it one of the most favored countries to reside in or to immigrate, as can be seen from the perceptions of the global population. Changes, however, are required in the policy framework, to rule out the loopholes of discrepancies which are present in the current scenario. The policy needs to be more practical and efficient than solely being a philosophical notion, only working as a noble ideology on papers.


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