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Multiculturalism in the Canadian Society


Multiculturalism is one of the dominant features of Canadian society. Canada has a unique history, important elements of which are an indigenous population, a British and French colonial past, and recent extensive immigration of people from many different countries and cultures. This has resulted in one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the world. Each cultural group has its own considerable cultural diversity as a result of history, regional differences, and internal and external population movements, as well as variations related to key factors such as class, gender, and urban and rural environments.

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In Canada, multiculturalism has deep roots and goes back to the period of colonization, thus racial differences and segregation are still important problems for many Canadians.

Main body

The main problem in Canada is that complete cultural assimilation did not take place. However, the predominance of Anglo-Celtic values, in all Canadian institutions but particularly in the workplace and the schools, often placed great pressures on immigrant families, created conflict between family members, and sometimes threatened positive identification with their own cultures (Sandwell 32). It was not until the 1970s that any significant change occurred in official policies although the pressure for change was apparent earlier. Following Roy, “Canada adopted a policy of multiculturalism in 1971. Particularly in the last decade or so, immigration patterns have changed “(200). People arriving at different times confront very different economic conditions, and changing settlement and ‘ethnic affairs’ policies have provided for different experiences of cultural validation. The experiences of refugees and voluntary immigrants from the same area are very different, although broad family values are likely to be similar.

Multiculturalism has also changed the way in which social services are delivered–with contradictory effects for Italian families (Sandwell 34). The ethnic group model of the 1970s gave an important role to ethno-specific services, often delivered through community organizations, and supported by grants-in-aid from the government. Access to services in this period depended partly on the presence of community organizations in a specific area, which in turn reflected the size and coherence of the community. the main threat of multiculturalism is that:’cultural differences spill over into the political realm. Although they create sometimes bitter public debate, there is, in the political world, considerable integration” (Roy 206). The trend towards ‘mainstreaming’ since the mid- 1980s has implied that all government services (both Commonwealth and State) should become sensitive to the diverse needs of all ethnic groups. ‘Access and equity and ‘social justice’ policies are meant to ensure this. Ethno-specific workers find their role reduced to one referring people to mainstream services. While the theory sounds fine, in practice it has often meant a lack of accessible and appropriate services for certain groups (Nakhaie 150).

Similar to Roy, Nakhaie underlines the importance of state reforms and legislation in multicultural education and the social values of Canadians. Roy and Nakhaie agree that multiculturalism as a national ideology and multicultural policies which promoted the maintenance of ethnic identity and cultural integrity, in many ways provided a quite different environment for immigrant families than that which the immediate post-war settlers encountered (Sandwell 27). The political basis of immigration, with its associated eligibility categories for admission, determines the composition of the immigrant population and has an impact on family structure and functioning. During the 1970s and early 1980s, the earlier emphasis on labor recruitment shifted to a much greater consideration of humanitarian and family reunion factors, although economic factors remained important (Conrad and Finkel 34). A numerical assessment was introduced, whereby immigrants were selected on the basis of weightings that reflected economic and settlement factors. “Consequently, multiculturalism has evolved over the last two decades and has shifted focus” (Roy 200).

Thus, Nakhaie underlines negative relations between different cultural groups and ethnicities caused by their origin and racial differences. in contrast to Roy, Nakhaie states that the failure of cultural assimilation, the threat to Canadian living standards with the onset of the recession and world economic restructuring, and social segmentation linked to gender, ethnicity, and race led to a new national approach to diversity and to the development of policies based on the principle of multiculturalism. In Canada, there are some strong relationships between country of birth, decade(s) of arrival, and eligibility category (consistent with the notion that there are ‘waves’ of immigration at certain times), and such associations have major implications for families. “Sociologist Reginald Bibby claims that by encouraging hyphenation and diversity, multiculturalism has created “mosaic madness” (Roy 201). However, it is important not to generative too much from these associations. Individuals and families from most countries have arrived over extended periods of time; the experience of early arrivals is often quite different from that of later arrivals, who come to an established community (Sandwell 39).

Cultural diversity, including the resurgence of a strong Indians presence and identity, presents challenging issues for Canada: what it means to be a Canadian; the relationship between national and personal identities; identifying and working in both the cohesive and divisive forces in a multicultural society, and the form and flavor of a future republic. None of these issues is new, yet all are of immediate concern, and the symbolic importance of the approach of the twenty-first century invests them with particular meaning (Nakhaie 151). Despite demographic changes, the major institutions in Canada and the political, legal, administrative, and communication systems remain predominantly Anglo-Celtic. Families and family life are therefore important arenas for the expression of cultural diversity. The purpose of this book is to give a picture of the diversity of families and family values in Canada. The overall emphasis is on continuity and change and on the present and future. Cultural identity problems faced by many children and adolescents are exacerbated by language difficulties in their first few years of settlement. Many have experienced racial discrimination and in some cases marginalization in schools. Perhaps, in the longer term, multicultural education conducted in Canadian schools can alleviate these problems and make it easier for children and adolescents to be proud of their bicultural identity (Sandwell 64).

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In sum, despite the limitations outlined, multiculturalism, as a societal philosophy that promotes acceptance of cultural diversity, has had a positive effect on the family. Many will claim not only that the community has been challenged but also that there is more diversity within the Canadian community today than existed during the early post-war years; this they suggest is due to multiculturalism. Nevertheless, there have been numerous changes within the family and the community which has meant that the relationship between the two has also changed significantly over the years. Multiculturalism in Canada influences all spheres of life including economic, social, and political relations between Canadians and the state.

Works Cited

Conrad, M., Finkel, T. History Of Canadian people 1867-present. McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005.

Nakhaie, M. R. Contemporary Realities and Future Visions.

Roy, R.E. The Fifth Force: Multiculturalism and the English Canadian Identity. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 538, Being and Becoming Canada. (Mar., 1995), pp. 199-209.

Sandwell, R. To the Past: History Education, Public Memory, and Citizenship in Canada. University of Toronto Press, 2006.

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"Multiculturalism in the Canadian Society." StudyCorgi, 21 Oct. 2021,

1. StudyCorgi. "Multiculturalism in the Canadian Society." October 21, 2021.


StudyCorgi. "Multiculturalism in the Canadian Society." October 21, 2021.


StudyCorgi. 2021. "Multiculturalism in the Canadian Society." October 21, 2021.


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