Nazanin Eisazadeh & Sonya Vitale
Multiculturalism is famed for its promise to “accommodate” diversity by
acknowledging disagreements as long as people play by the rules.
In a multicultural societies it becomes complex when fundamentally different
and mutually opposed values come into context.
There are SIX meanings when defining the term multiculturalism.
1.) FACT- (What is)
2.) IDEOLOGY (What should be)—a corresponding array of ideas and ideals
3.) POLICY (What is proposed)—government policy or program
4.) PROCESS (What really happens)—set of practices for promoting political
and minority interest
5.) CRITICAL DISCOURSE (What is being contested)—invites challenge and
6.) SOCAIL MOVEMENT (Collective resistance)
The framework for this presentation will be to provide a definition of
multiculturalism, examine it’s different meanings, analyze the diverse
perceptions and critical reactions, and evaluate it’s role in Canada-building.
Most agree that multiculturalism can mean whatever people
want it to mean and that it has become a “floating signifier”.
There are FIVE definitions given within this text that define
1.) Tends to dwell on the celebrating of differences as valuable
in their own right or in challenging for cultural space.
2.) As the coexistence of diverse cultures involving
communities in interaction.
3.) Provides a framework and official policy for advancing the
regulated goals of cultural differences, social equality, social
integration, and national unity.
4.) As a package of policies and programs for integrating
minority women and men into the institutional framework of
**5.) As a principle and a practice for engaging diversity as
different yet equal **
Not only does this definition describe what multiculturalism is,
but it focuses on the fact that multiculturalism is a network of
relationships involving cultural differences and social equality.
Multiculturalism can also be used as a metaphor. The most
popular metaphor that people associate multiculturalism with
is “mosaic”. Although mosaic is the most popular, a preferred
metaphor is that of a kaleidoscope, with its emphasis on the
recombining of elementary pieces into
1.) FACT:
– most countries are ethnically diverse, composed of
people from a variety of different backgrounds who
speak, think, worship, and act differently.
– Many wish to keep their cultural ties, but at the
same time want to become a part of society.
– There are some who dispute the notion that Canada
is multicultural which are aboriginals, charter, and
multicultural minorities.
– Within Canada people have come from 170 different
countries and speak 100 different languages.
– It prescribes a preferred course of thought or action with
respect to how a society should be organized or how people
ought to behave.
– Comprised of freedom, tolerance and respect.
– Community which is creating, guaranteeing, encouraging
spaces within which different communities are able to grow at
their own pace.
– A belief that people are more than individuals, but social
beings whose well-being depends on a shared identity
within the cultural framework of an ethnic community.
– Multiculturalism does not dismiss diversity as contrary to
the goals of national unity or socio-economic progress.
– A multicultural ideal build upon the principles of cultural
relativism--cultural practice are to a particular time and
– A commitment to multiculturalism is predicated on the
premise that those confident in their cultural backgrounds
will concede a similar tolerance to others.
– Multiculturalism consists of specific
government initiatives for transforming
multicultural ideals into official programs and
practice at institutional level.
– It can be interpreted within a broader policy
framework that justifies the design and
implementations of diversity-driven programs
without fear of inciting public concern over
yet more government intrusion.
– Multiculturalism was founded in the aftermath
of publication of the Report of the Royal
Commission on Bilingualism an Biculturalism
in 1969. Ethnic minorities were lobbying that
there language and culture was just as
important as Quebec’s to Canadian society
– Pre-World War II Canada was not accepting of immigrants, more
importantly of ethnic diversity. Cultural differences were inferior,
irrelevant, or contrary to national interest.
– The Anglo-American ideals began to occur because of the influx of
immigrants from Europe and then other developing countries.
– The first Citizenship Act was passed in 1947, which severed
Canada’s colonialist identification with United Kingdom. This
meant that Canada would not define itself as belonging to a British
culture, rather foreign born and native born would live together.
– Race was not to determine entry, open hatred of other was
uncivilized, and discrimination was unacceptable.
– Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau founded the multicultural act on
October 8th 1971 because he wanted to acknowledge other ethnic
contributions within a Canadian society.
– In 1985 the Charter of Rights and Freedom came into effect in
relation to the multiculturalism act.
– In 1988 it was declared that Canada was the only multicultural
– Civic Multiculturalism: is oriented towards Canada-building by
promoting the ideal of a commonly shared citizenship.
 Equality of Status: Canada does not have an official
culture; all cultures are equal to each other.
 Canadian Identity: Diversity lies at the heart of
Canadian identity.
 Personal Choice: The ability to choose lifestyles and
cultural traits is a positive factor in society.
 Protection of Individual Rights: Individuals have the
right to be free of discrimination that precludes
equality and participation.
– Multiculturalism as practice refers to its use by both political
and ethnic sectors to advance goals and ambitions.
– Official multiculturalism hoped to formulate a new founding
myth of Canada as a land of opportunity and equality for all
Canadians, thus uniting all Canadians at a time of political
turmoil, yet doing so without any fundamental redistribution
of power.
– The growing heterogeneity of Canada’s population has
prompted all political parties to pursue the multicultural vote
through promises of increased representation, funding, and
affirmative action at federal levels.
– Minority men and women are empowered with a tool for
staking out their claims-it empowers an otherwise powerless
sector with the leverage to prod or provoke central policy
– Its goal includes fostering tolerance toward diversity, reducing
prejudice, removing discriminatory barriers, eliminating
cultural ethnocentrism, enhancing equitable access to service,
expanding institutional engagement, and improving intergroup
– Draw people into an existing Canada rather than bringing
about social change.
– Critical Multiculturalism: is based on the premises that cultural
institutions are racist in privileging Westocentric values at the
expense of minority struggles. It could be connected to
postmodernism because it is a mind dependent world where
there is no center of authority, only different view points where
everything is relative and true because nothing is absolutely
 Canada is multicultural by virtue of its ethnic
heterogeneity, where is empirically real, persistent,
and shows no signs of easing in light of prevailing
immigration flows.
 Yes, because of the high level of support for
multicultural principles and tolerance of diversity
 Yes, because Canada is a society with both
political and minority sectors capitalizing on
multiculturalism to achieve a variety of national or
personal goals.
 Some Canadians are vigorously supportive, others are in
total rejection or denial; others are indifferent, and yet other
are uninformed.
 Variables such as age, income, levels of education, and
place of residence are critical in gauging support, with
higher levels of approval among those who are younger,
more affluent, better educated and urban.
 Based on a survey in 1996 60-70% are for believe Canada
is multicultural.
 It is acceptable it everyone has a right to his or her culture
in Canada, and if it means learning about other cultures.
 Many support multiculturalism, but the support declines
when multiculturalism is linked with unpopular government
programs such as immigration policy or employment equity.
Residence of Ontario and Western Canada are supportive, but Quebecois and First
Nations are not as much.
For both minorities they feel they have been nationally undermined their special status in
exchange that Canada is a immigrant status.
Critics on the left believe multiculturalism as ineffective except as a mantra for politicians
in regards to getting support from the public.
Those on the right believe that multiculturalism is a costly drain of resources that runs the
risk of eroding national unity.
Those in the middle believe that it is great in principle, but in practice it is little more than
a tacitly accepted contract of mutual indifference in which Canadians share geographic
and political space.
Radicals believe multiculturalism is a capitalist plot to divide and distract the working
class because minorities are ghettoized into certain occupational structures and
residential areas, thus they are in no position for power and wealth.
Conservatives believes it has taken away Canadian values.
New Canadians feel that multiculturalism has a marginalizing effect in “othering” their
status in Canada.
 In a 1996 survey, 71% think multiculturalism is an important
symbol of Canadian unity and identity.
 Multiculturalism has contributed to Canada’s image as an open,
secular and largely tolerant society because of its socially
progressive society and enviable standards of living.
 For the most part young Canadians are proud of Canada’s
multicultural heritage.
 It is a blueprint for inclusiveness of all Canadians
 In short, multiculturalism remains the policy of necessity if not of
choice for a changing and diverse Canada.
PRIME MINISTER “We have established a distinct Canadian
way, a distant Canadian model: Accommodation of cultures.
Recognition of diversity. A partnership between citizenship and
state. A balance that promotes individual freedom and
economic prosperity while at the same time sharing risks and
 What does multiculturalism mean?
 Can we “live together with our differences”
in relation to maintaining our individual
culture while assimilating to the mainstream
 Is Canada a multicultural society? What are
your reasons for your answer?

Multiculturalism in Canada: “Living together with …