Pros and Cons of Policy of Multiculturalism in Canada

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During the 1970s and 1980s, a policy of multiculturalism was officially adopted by the Government of Canada under Pierre Trudeau. After that, more and more ethnic enclaves appeared in Canada. The concept of multiculturalism has been familiar and accepted more or less. In fact, it is a multicultural policy formulated by different countries according to their different national conditions.

There are four main cultural policies. Monoculturalism is very close to nationalism, does not accept the foreign culture, social integration of immigrants, and absorbs it into the culture of the nation. Leitkultur is a social model constructed by the German oriental scholar Bassam Tibi. In his opinion, different ethnic groups in a country can have their own characteristics but must support the leading culture as the basic core concept of society. In the West, these basic concepts are a democracy, separation of church and state, enlightenment, civil society, and so on. Because of its strong bias and discriminatory nature, it is not recognized even in Germany. American melting pot means the culture of various immigrants is self-mixed and dissolved without government intervention. The melting furnace means that every immigrant individual and immigrant group, regardless of their “roots”, are integrated into American society at their own pace and speed, constantly improving their living standards and social status.

However, the biggest flaw in this model is that it cannot be applied to those groups born in the United States and in a lower social status. The last policy is multiculturalism. It was originated in Canada, comparing to those three policies, the multicultural policy suggests that immigrant groups should retain their own culture and communicate peacefully with other cultures. Canada, Australia and the UK have all adopted Multiculturalism as an official policy, although they have their own style at this point. Compared to the American melting pot, multicultural policies are also known as cultural mosaics of different ethnicities. As a sociological fact, multiculturalism refers to the presence of people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Ideologically, multiculturalism consists of a relatively coherent set of ideas and ideals pertaining to the celebration of Canada’s cultural diversity. At the policy level, multiculturalism refers to the management of diversity through formal initiatives in the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal domains.

As many new ethnic enclaves rise in recent years, are they hurting multiculturalism? I think they do have bad effects on it but they boost multicultural policies as well. Toronto China Town is a significant ethnic neighbourhood in and around Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with a high concentration of ethnic Chinese residents and businesses. There are multiple Chinatowns in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. Most of the time, when people used directly, the name typically refers to West Chinatown, which extends along Dundas Street West and Spadina Avenue.

The Chinese community in this Downtown Chinatown originated from First Chinatown. It existed in the 1890s along York Street and Elizabeth Street between Queen and Dundas Streets within Toronto’s Ward district. Situated in what was then known as ‘The Ward’, one of the city’s largest slum areas for incoming immigrants, the area was expropriated and razed in 1955, despite myriad protests, to make way for Toronto New City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square, with only one-third of this original Chinatown left south of Dundas Street. More than three-quarters of the neighbourhood was commandeered as a result of the forced dispossession. The remaining portions of the neighbourhood were saved by Chinese business and community leaders in the 1970s including Jean Lumb, who established the ‘Save Chinatown Committee’.

Nevertheless, due to the city’s disruption, much of the cultural and economic centre of the downtown Chinatown has since shifted west to Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street. With changes in the city and subsequent waves of immigration from the mid-20th century onwards, Toronto has since developed East Chinatown at the intersection of Broadview Avenue and Gerrard Street, as well as Chinatowns in Scarborough and North York. In the Greater Toronto Area, Markham, Mississauga, and Richmond Hill have all developed sizable Chinatowns. These neighbourhoods are major cultural, social and economic hubs for the Chinese-Canadian communities of the region. Having a large China Town is good for Chineses. They can find varieties of food from their hometown, which they have been missed a lot. Foreigners or Canadian locals are able to explore Chinese culture without visiting China. It is a win-win. However, more and more Chineses decide to immigrant to Toronto since the Chinese culture has developed so great. They can get not only better educations and living surroundings but also familiar hometown’s life here. In that case, China Town keeps developing, but other countries’ culture might not be able or willing to come to Toronto. This hurts multiculturalism and makes the number of ethnic enclaves reduce in the future.

Though ethnic enclaves have a bad influence, they still create much more positive aspects of multiculturalism. Culturally diverse areas or ‘ethnic enclaves’ are another way in which multiculturalism has manifested. In the 21st century, Canada is often characterized as being ‘very progressive, diverse, and multicultural’. Immigration has played an integral part in the development of multiculturalism within Canada during the last half of the 20th century. Legislative restrictions on immigration that had favoured British, American and European immigrants were amended during the 1960s, resulting in an influx of diverse people from Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. The number of people who are becoming immigrants is steadily increasing as seen between 2001 and 2006, the number of foreign-born people increased by 13.6%.

By 2006 Canada had grown to have thirty-four ethnic groups with at least one hundred thousand members each, of which eleven have over 1,000,000 people and numerous others are represented in smaller amounts. 16.2% of the population identify themselves as a visible minority. Canada currently has one of the highest per capita immigration rate in the world, driven by economic policy and family reunification. Canada also resettles over one in ten of the world’s refugees. In 2008, there were 65,567 immigrants in the family class, 21,860 refugees, and 149,072 economic immigrants amongst the 247,243 total immigrants to the country. Canada receives its immigrant population from over 200 countries. Approximately 41% of Canadians are of either the first or second-generation. One out of every five Canadians currently living in Canada was not born in the country. The Canadian public, as well as the major political parties, support immigration. Political parties are cautious about criticizing the high level of immigration, because, as noted by The Globe and Mail, ‘in the early 1990s, the Reform Party was branded ‘racist’ for suggesting that immigration levels be lowered from 250,000 to 150,000.’

As we know, newcomers have tended to settle in the major urban areas. These urban enclaves have served as a home away from home for immigrants to Canada while providing a unique experience of different cultures for those of long Canadian descent. In Canada, there are several ethnocentric communities with many diverse backgrounds, including Chinese, Italian and Greek. Canadian Chinatowns are one of the most prolific types of ethnic enclave found in major cities. These areas seemingly recreate an authentic Chinese experience within an urban community. During the first half of the 20th century, Chinatowns were associated with filth, seediness, and the derelict. By the late 20th century, Chinatown had become areas worth preserving, a tourist attraction. They are now generally valued for their cultural significance and have become a feature of most large Canadian cities.

Professor John Zucchi of McGill University states: ‘Unlike earlier periods when significant ethnic segregation might imply a lack of integration and therefore be viewed as a social problem, nowadays ethnic concentration in residential areas is a sign of vitality and indicates that multiculturalism as a social policy has been successful, that ethnic groups are retaining their identities if they so wish, and old-world cultures are being preserved at the same time that ethnic groups are being integrated. In addition, these neighbourhoods, like their cultures, add to the definition of a city and point to the fact that integration is a two-way street.’ As the number of immigrants increases, the culture of Toronto’s ethnic enclaves improves. Thus, it attracts more people to move in and stimulates the multicultural policies.

In conclusion, I have come to the realization there are pros and cons with multiculturalism and ethnic enclaves, but the boost of ethnic enclaves to multiculturalism is overweight the harm to it. Ethnic enclaves and multiculturalism may be a boon to develop international trading relationships and opportunities with immigrant home countries, especially in our increasingly interdependent world. It is necessary, however, for Canada and Canadians to take steps to encourage intercultural understanding and provide opportunities for people of different cultures to learn from each other. New immigrants must make efforts to learn about Canadian history including aboriginal history and learn to adapt to the customs and traditions of the Canadian people. Despite ethnic residential segregation, ethnic groups are seldom so spatially separated as not to encounter people of other ethnicities in their daily activities. Thus, on a community or district level, the Toronto region is truly a multicultural mosaic.

Cite this paper

Pros and Cons of Policy of Multiculturalism in Canada. (2020, Nov 22). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/pros-and-cons-of-policy-of-multiculturalism-in-canada/



What are the benefits of multiculturalism in Canada?
The benefits of multiculturalism in Canada include the promotion of diversity, the enrichment of cultural experiences, and the creation of a more tolerant and inclusive society. It allows for the sharing of ideas, traditions, and values, leading to a greater understanding and appreciation of different cultures.
What are the pros and cons of multiculturalism?
Multiculturalism has its pros and cons. On the one hand, it allows for different cultures to coexist and interact with one another. On the other hand, it can also lead to cultural clashes and conflict.
What effects does the policy of multiculturalism have on Canada?
The policy of multiculturalism has had a positive effect on Canada, as it has helped to create a more diverse and tolerant society. However, some critics argue that the policy has also led to increased tension and division between different cultural groups.
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