Canadian multiculturalism: Global anxieties and local debates

People from many regions of the world view Canada as the finest place for them to live because it is a country that is both multiethnic and multicultural. As a result, the immigrants that enter this country have a variety of cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds. Thus, multiculturalism serves as the primary emblem for the peaceful integration of people from all backgrounds into a society that is accepting of all people. In spite of this, there exist minority groups in this population. As a result, there is growing prejudice and discrimination directed at these groups.
Has diversity altered what Thobani and Bannerji refer to as Canada’s ethnic foundation? Canada is a country that basis itself on the state concept of the inclusive practices, which are linked to what is described in policy terms as ‘multiculturalism’ (Banting & Kymlicka, 2010). Nevertheless, the inclusiveness of the citizens is at a contradictory status as compared to what is in reality since diverse communities in this country experience systematic discrimination. The formal inclusion context at the official level is linked to different systematic discrimination patterns in society, which masks the deepening and continuing exclusion of barriers that focus on establishing equal citizenship for the sectors that are marginalized in the society of Canada. Current and historical contextual factors include racial slavery, formal colonialism, and the indigenous children genocides. Hence, there is the presence of the contradiction of the reality versus promise, which depicts the main source of the challenges, which are linked to the social justice expected to take place in the country.
Several jurisdictions have embarked on attacking the multiculturalism concept in Canada. Leaders from Britain, France, and Germany have indicated that in their countries, multiculturalism was a failure that served the role of segregating and separating instead of integrating. The adoption of the 1971, multiculturalism policy was focused on contribution to the building of the nation. Hence, there was the encouragement of the Canada’s vision based on the values of mutual respect and equality with regard to nationality, race, religion, color, and ethnicity (Kymlicka, 2010). The policy focuses on the confirmation of the two official languages in Canada and the Aboriginal people rights.
The developed policy for multiculturalism focuses on promoting an effective integration through the removal of the barriers, which are linked to the Canadian life participation. As such, multiculturalism helps in the integration of the religious and ethnic minorities and immigrants in Canada. Thus, there are high rates for Canadian immigrants acquiring citizenships, the intermarriages levels are high, the immigrants have a chance to participate in the politics, and there are high levels of the proficiency for the use of the official language. Furthermore, immigrants’ children in Canada have a chance to enjoy better education as compared to other kids from different regions in the Western democracy.
What are cultural discourses of multiculturalism that engender racism and new racism?
Multiculturalism focuses on having ethnic groups in society, which have the potential to exercise their rights without giving up on the language, religion, and culture. Thus, the focus has been to embrace diversity, cultural differences, and identities (Peritz & Friesen, 2010). There are cases where the ethnic minority in the neighbourhoods often receive negative sentiments where the authorities express the desire to regulate, control, and eliminate them. The city governance focuses on the enhancing and celebrating the diversity, but at the same time there is indication of signs of repression and regulation of the ethnic minority. Therefore, the multicultural city is considered to be a threat instead of an opportunity in society.
Currently, cities express spatial and social barriers among different ethnic groups irrespective of the tremendous growth on cultural diversity. As the immigrants move to the suburbs, there are similar cases of ethnic and racial lines, which are experienced that focus on the delineation of the inner city. Thus, the migrant communities become unrecognized and invisible in the city social policy, as well as everyday’s landscapes. There are also cases where the migrants are located within the city outskirts leading to the development of concentrated joblessness and poverty.
Multiculturalism focuses on threatening the nation purity and the neutrality and universalism of a liberal state. Thus, multiculturalism and racism can be considered as forms of tribalism that enhances the separation of people based on ethnic, racial and linguistic traits. The sharp differences that are experienced in the ethno-racial blocs in politics and culture function as the key elements for the reproduction of racist social patterns.
Circumstances for the adoption of multiculturalism as state policy in Canada
In Canada, multiculturalism was introduced as a term that focused on countering biculturalism in 1960s (Richard, 2000). Such was done by the Royal Commission on Biculturalism and Bilingualism. As such, it has contributed to the replacement of the cultural pluralism, but such a term is currently being used in Quebec.
Multiculturalism plays the role of referring to the society, which is characterized by cultural heterogeneity and ethnicity. The reference that is made focuses on referring to the mutual respect and equality of populations from different cultural and ethnic groups. Further, this term is related to the policies, which were coined in 1971 by the federal government and several provinces in the nation.
Canada was receiving immigrants from different geographical location. As such, there was a need to ensure that all people felt treated and the nation benefited from cultural diversity. Hence, the policy of multiculturalism was formalized with an aim to promote and protect diversity, support the Canadian use of the two languages, and ensuring that the Aboriginal people had their rights recognized (Stephen, 2007). Thus, multiculturalism would ensure that there was global understanding of all communities from different ethnic backgrounds.
Currently, there are challenges, which are faced with regard to multiculturalism. As such, there numerous critics who have emerged that indicate that the policy does not do any good in society. Thus, it enhances balkanization and ghettoization where ethnic group members engage in looking inward and identifying the existing differences with other groups instead of considering their identity as Canadian citizens that share equal rights. Moreover, the policy is considered to be concerned with immigrants’ rights who form the large part of Canadian population and does not focus on those of new immigrants into the country.
Further, multiculturalism is considered as a limit to minority members’ freedom since these are confined to the geographic and cultural ethnic enclaves in the country. The government considers cultures based on cuisine and festivals and not on the kin and family relations. Hence, there is always a challenge to initiate a concept of self-belonging for the Canadian population in such respects.
Changes in activism level and government policy on multiculturalism policy.
A key change is the introduction of the concept of recognition. As such, the identity of national and ethnic minorities needs to be recognized in the country. Such is because the minority cultures have rights to maintain and express their cultural behaviours and practices. Thus, culture and politics should not be inseparable.
Multiculturalism depicts that culture is impacted by politics. The government should adopt a liberal stand that focuses on holding a neutral position when matters and aspects of culture are taken into consideration. Such is because culture is concerned with the private life of the citizens (Thobani & Bannerji, n.d). Politics and state are embedded. In fact, politics is a form of cultural practice where values and norms play a significant role. Therefore, cultural identity of the minority demands recognition.
The enlightenment concepts of monocultures, centralism, and rationalism need to be replaced with notions of diversity, negotiation, and diffusion to ensure that multiculturalism has a chance to achieve its anticipated objectives in society. Such includes the adoption of the post modernity condition that allows states to adapt to multiculturalism and politics. This entails the use of the meso-political level, which ensures that multiculturalism is successfully created in society.
Moreover, there should be decentralisation or autonomy of the territories to ensure that minorities in Canada are actively involved in the entire decision-making network. Such calls for the embracement of the multi-national and multi-ethnic states where there is a great concentration of the minority groups. Where there is no geographical concentration of the groups, a system has to be devised, which will ensure that the minorities are represented in the government and participate in policy-making.
What would you do differently at York’s multicultural week?
The different thing, which would be done in this week is to have all the cultural groups including the minority ones represented in making decisions on how the events of the entire period will be conducted. As such, the minority ethnic groups will be represented in offering ideas and suggestions on what should be done during the multicultural week. Further, there will be a lot of emphasis on the essence of the minority ethnic groups. Such will entail having their cultural practices, norms, and values made known to the other people who are attending the event. The anticipated outcome is to let the minority groups develop a sense of belonging and other cultural groups focus on respecting all the individuals in society. Consequently, cultural diversity will be fully embraced by all the people irrespective of their population composition.
Canada developed the multicultural policy as a way of ensuring that individuals from different cultural backgrounds in the country developed the sense of belonging. However, the current policy has significant challenges because it does not contribute to the establishment of the desired unity in the nation. Such is because there are minority groups in society. Therefore, a recognition concept is essential to ensure that individuals in the society are recognized irrespective of the cultural backgrounds.

Banting, K, & Kymlicka, W. (2010). Canadian multiculturalism: Global anxieties and
local debates.
Kymlicka, W. (2010). The Current State of Multiculturalism in Canada. Department of
Citizenship and Immigration. Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada. ISBN 978-1-100-14648-5.
Peritz, I, & Friesen, J. (2010). When multiculturalism doesn’t work.
Richard, J. (2000). Multiculturalism and the history of Canadian diversity. University of
Toronto Press. ISBN 978-0-8020-8075-2.
Stephen, T. (2007). Multiculturalism and the Canadian Constitution. UBC
Press. ISBN 978-0-7748-1445-4.
Thobani, S, & Bannerji, E. (n.d). Multiculturalism and the liberalizing nation.

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