Canada’s multiculturalism policies essential to the essence of the nation
One of Canada’s most defining characteristics is that it is a nation of immigrants from around the world.
It was also the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy. Multiculturalism was first introduced to Canada after the Second World War when two key European ethnic groups, the British and the French, joined the aboriginal peoples in Canada. This caused Canadians to rethink the role of other ethnicities within the society and became the start of multiculturalism.
In 1971, then prime minister Pierre Trudeau declared Canada would adopt a multicultural policy. The Canadian Multiculturalism Act, which officially passed in 1988, is a law that values and enhances multiculturalism in Canada. Ever since, the Canadian government has developed a series of policies in the hopes of nurturing and promoting multiculturalism. In fact, the ability to embrace that which is different — to work together, despite cultural and linguistic differences — is at the heart of Canadian multiculturalism.
In my opinion, multiculturalism is essential to the idea of Canada.
Multiculturalism allows Canadians to learn about the cultures of others for a deeper understanding of their background. Mutual understanding is the most basic requirement for living in harmony with neighbours of different race and backgrounds.
Since no culture is inherently superior to others or inferior to the rest, every human culture has the possibility of contributing to the human condition. Multiculturalism, thus, means valuing what people have to offer, not rejecting or belittling it, simply because it differs from what the majority regards as important and of value.
Even in Waterloo Region, we learn to respect other cultures by celebrating and learning about different holidays and festivals around the world. These include such celebrations as Chinese New Year, Saint Patrick’s Day, the Hindus’ Holi festival, and Oktoberfest.
Everyone has the right to preserve their own heritage. Multiculturalism may very well be part of an ongoing process that enables students like me to become global citizens who are able to go beyond our own gender, culture and ethnicity and identify with humankind throughout the world.
The essence of multiculturalism is the ability to celebrate with others in a manner that transcends all barriers and brings about a unity through diversity. Cities grow as large numbers of immigrants arrive in Canada. Many of these immigrants are skilled and can help contribute to Canada’s workforce and economy. These new workers eventually purchase houses in Canada, which in turn boosts our housing market. Canada’s tourism market also improves when an immigrant family’s relatives visit Canada.
Since Canada has a flat fertility rate, the government needs to continue an immigration policy that will entice even more people to the country to maintain our economic growth.
Multiculturalism allows Canada to reinforce good relationships with other countries. When new immigrants integrate into Canadian society, they become a valuable bridge to connect Canada with their origin countries. It is because they understand both sides very well.
Canada has many trading partners within different nations that speak a different language. With the help of immigrants who are bilingual, the language barrier between Canada and another country can be minimized.
Multiculturalism has contributed to our country’s social and political purposes. Life is so much more enriching when people bring differences to the table, as long as there is acceptance and understanding.
Multiculturalism has helped reshape Canada into a society with harmony, a better economy and a friendly and peaceful nation with good relationship with others.
The needs of the 21st century demand a country that is culturally developed and internationally focused. Canadians show that it does not matter where each person is from, all Canadians are treated equally.
Sherry Wong is a student at Monsignor Doyle Catholic Secondary School in Cambridge.