Multiculturalism in Canada
There are thousands of ethnicities and tribes in this world, each with its own character and cultural perspectives. During the time of our forefathers, contacts between different ethnicities might be limited to a certain extent. The world ver. 3.0 nowadays is totally different. Globalization pushes our world into a borderless field. Ethnicities, though sometimes serve as barrier, are celebrated in a very different way than they were in the past. In many places people from different ethnicities can live together in harmony. A near-perfect example is Canada.
With so many immigrants coming to Canada, the country enjoys multiculturalism at its best. Various cultures, languages, ethnicities, and accents compose Canada's today 33-million population. More than 200,000 immigrants enter Canada annually. Chinese, Germans, Ukrainians, Doukhbor, Hungarians, South Asians, and Vietnamese are among the most dominant ethnicities in Canada. Before migrating to Canada, many of these immigrants had heard Canada's reputation as a very open and peaceful country where coexistence is really valued by everyone.
Thousand years ago, "native" Canadians came from Asia after crossing lots of icebergs and eventually reached North America. They then started to migrate to other parts of the Americas, including Central and South America. Canada's role as the first gate for immigrants from Asia made up its long-time history as the land of immigrants. About five hundred years ago, Europans started to settle in Canada. Initially, the French came and then followed by the Britons. In the 18th century, after the British was lost during the American Revolution, they had to retreat from the then-USA area and stay in Canada. This is actually how multiculturalism started in Canada.
In 1971, Canadian Federal Government launched a multiculturalism policy that does not only support multiculturalism, but also requires every Canadian to accept the differences within the society. Immigrants are definitely invited to participate fully and equally as members of the society and as citizens of Canada.
This policy came out mainly as a result of a series of tensions between French Canadians and British Canadians during the mid-60's. The Government then appointed some people to sit in the Royal Commission whose main tasks were to learn and to find out some solutions for the tension problem. During their investigations all around the country, members of the Royal Commission found out that they found not only French and British Canadians. They also found people from different ethnicities that use languages other than French and English. It turned out that French and British cultures were not the only cultures that have flourished in Canada.
Through their Book of Report: Volume IV, members of the Royal Commissions suggested that all institutions in Canada should include multiculturalism as an integral part of all their policies. They also suggested English and French to be made the national languages of Canada. Basically, they convinced everyone that multiculturalism should be the foundation in building the country. Eventually all provinces of Canada decided to adopt the suggestions. In 1998, the first formal federal law regarding Canada's multicultural policy, the C-93 Bill, was launched.
Racial and Ethnic Differences : The Prospect
To be different among the populations is not something novel for Canadians. Canadians have dealt with differences within the society for many years. In the latest 2006 census, more than 30% of Canadian citizens are neither of British nor French descent. They are mostly foreign-born immigrants living in big cities such as Vancouver and Toronto. They came not only from European countries, but also from Asia and Africa. In fact, after the 1970s most of the immigrants are non-traditional immigrants, meaning that they came from non-European countries.
Canada's ethnic diversity can be seen as a reflection of its broad immigration policy. The reasons given for the high level of immigration in Canada which can be broadly categorized into three different segments: social (family reunification), humanitarian (refugees-related issues), and economic (to fill labor market). Those reasons, combined with an attractive immigration policy, have drawn more and more people to live in Canada every year. Good immigration policy has prevented the latent immigrant problem: tension between the locals and the immigrants, while at the same time has allowed a generally smoother upward mobility for immigrants to reach a higher social class. Assimilation seems to be quite successful in Canada. Take a look at the statistics of University of Toronto's student body. More than half of the student populations are people of color. Moreover, 40% are Asians, especially of Chinese and Indian-Pakistani descents. Only 30% of students come from English-speaking countries.
Diversity in Canada is certainly an asset for Canada's economic development. Multiculturalism is invaluable as it recognizes all known differences. When everyone involved in developing a country agrees that differences should not be a barrier, they all can focus on making a brighter future for the country, both socially and economically. In this aspect, Canada is probably a good example of how a country should handle immigrants.