In 2017 immigrants made up 21.9 percent of Canada’s population. In fact, Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world, located in Canada. Canada is very open as a country and supports all racial groups and people of all cultures. Through multiculturalism, Canada has thrived both socially and politically as a nation.
What lead to Canada Becoming Multicultural
Canada is known to be a nation of newcomers that was initially founded by the aboriginals. Immigration, however, began in the 17th and 18th century when the British and French were colonized. This continued in the 19th century when many loyalists fled back to the United States during the American civil war. After both world wars ended, many Europeans left the United States, prompting many immigrants to move and start a life in Canada. Canada obtained many new religions, cultures, and languages forcing the country to adapt, including changes in the government’s attitude. Prime Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, ultimately declared that Canada would adopt multiculturalism as a policy in 1971, marking a huge step for Canada’s path to cultural diversity. Canada received much respect globally for its newfound sense of unity in both a social and political aspect. In 1988, when the Multiculturalism Act was introduced, federal funds were provided to all ethnic groups to provide them with the support needed to preserve their cultures. In fact, this event had a great impact on the cultures we now see and love today in Canada. Trudeau believed that no single culture or race could define Canada and committed to making that dream a success with four objectives. That included, the assistance to groups in order to carry on their cultural traditions and practices, help ethnic groups overcome obstacles, encourage bonds between cultures, and promote immigrants to learn the English or French language to be active participants in Canadian society. Although, Trudeau was also motivated in passing the Multiculturalism Act because he was optimistic that it would help the liberals gain more votes from people of different ethnicities. The act was ideal for most except for a few citizens who questioned or disagreed with the policy. Quebec’s biggest concern being that French would begin to be a language that lacked importance due to the increase of equality between nations.
Impact on Society
Although Multiculturalism was seen as a possible negative attribute for some, there were also many positive characteristics. For instance, multiculturalism would make Canada a role model for the world demonstrating that different cultures can live among one another peacefully, as well as multiculturalism making Canada a more richer, brighter, stronger and overall more exciting place to live. Yet despite the positive, some negative arguments include, multiculturalism reduces the strength or need of French, increase in racism, independent communities have a negative impact on National Unity, and finally immigrants who choose to enter into Canada generally come for economic reasons and for possible opportunities, not because of the policy. Even so, Canada has flourished as a nation because of the policy. Canada was also given something many other countries don’t have; variety. Meaning Canadian citizens are given the opportunity to eat different types of foods, wear different styles of clothing, understand the meaning of equality, and learn different languages and cultures. For example, in Canada, the diversity is limitless with a large range of festivals and celebrations for cultures all year round, and restaurants of all cultures around every block. A mix of races also helps the community’s problem solving skills because different people have contrasting perspectives and opinions, which might be influenced by one’s background. However, one major benefit is that international companies help boost the economy significantly, by providing more jobs, good revenue, and lower prices. Immigrants can also help open doors for Canada’s international businesses by attracting foreign investments in Canada. Although, all of the benefits above are important contributors to Canadian society, the main positive effect that cultural diversity has had on Canada is that it has shaped Canada into the country that many now know it to be today.
Immigrants are in fact very beneficial to the Canadian economy because: they help create jobs, add to the population, are taxpayers, and more. Canadians ranked multiculturalism as the second most important part of our identity, placed only after the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. After our years of success however, we have begun to grow idle.
What if Canada was not a multicultural society
Many would argue that, without Canada’s multicultural policy, Canada would no longer be the remarkable nation it is today. All history after 1971 would most likely change and Canada would probably not be as economically privileged. For instance, Immigrants had been great contributors to Canada by providing large amounts of their work, time, and money. Canada is home to many, whether it be to refugees escaping war and corruption, immigrants searching for new financial opportunities, or families looking for a fresh start. If Canada were no longer able to support them, there would be one less place for those in need to turn to. Without the multicultural policy, there would not be a large number of immigrants coming into Canada. As a result, Canada’s population would be very weak and much smaller than what it is today. Canada would no longer be as globally acknowledged and its international businesses would not be the success it is today. Canada would no longer be admired for its respect between races and sense of equality.
Burnaby Intercultural Planning Table