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“Multiculturalism in Canada: “ Living Together with Differences ”. Nazanin Eisazadeh & Sonya Vitale. DRAWING THE MULTICULTURAL LINE. Multiculturalism is famed for its promise to “accommodate” diversity by acknowledging disagreements as long as people play by the rules.

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in Canada:

“ Living Together with Differences ”

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 change

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 multiculturalism:

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 society.

**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







  • 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 place
  • 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 building.
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 country.
  • 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 structures
  • 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 encounters.
  • 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 knowable.



  • 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 benefits.”

discussion questions
  • What does multiculturalism mean?
  • Can we “live together with our differences” in relation to maintaining our individual culture while assimilating to the mainstream culture?
  • Is Canada a multicultural society? What are your reasons for your answer?