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Canada is both a multicultural and multiethnic country where people from diverse parts of the world have chosen to live. With them these immigrants carry their various backgrounds made of many cultures, ethnic origins, values and beliefs. Multiculturalism is a symbol of peaceful integration in and open-minded society. It is formally defined as an educational program recognizing past and present cultural diversity in a society in promoting the equality of all cultural traditions (Teevan and Hewitt, 1995). However with this multinational acceptance emerges the term minority group . Linked to this term are negative ideologies such as prejudice and discrimination. This paper will discuss both the positive and the negative aspects as well as the strengths and weaknesses of multiculturalism. This paper will ask questions such as the following: Are our children growing up to be well-rounded individuals who accept those around them or is one group of individuals being favored at the expense of another? Are immigrants treated as full-fledged Canadians or will they always be second in line? Also included in this analysis will be a short history of multiculturalism in Canada. The main focus of this paper will be to determine if multiculturalism in Canada encourages Canadian society to flourish or if the government has made an irreversible mistake in its acceptance of outsiders .

In a pluralistic society, as is the Canadian, multiculturalism is given the opportunity to diverge into many paths- some more recognized than others. Along with this multinational acceptance emerges the term minority group . An ethnic minority is defined as a category of people, distinguished by physical or cultural traits, that is socially disadvantaged (Macionis, Benoit & Jansson, 1999 p. 209). According to this definition, humans of a darker skin tone are coined not only immigrants but also as members of visible minorities. In 1991, 4.3 million Canadian immigrants made up 16% of the total population. Approximately three-quarters of the same total population claimed to be tied to ethnic origins that other than that of British or French. Lately, there has been a shift in direction where immigrants are concerned. Taking credit for the largest percentage of recent arrivals are Asians and Middle Easterns as oppose to Europeans. These people who have been granted the right to live in Canada permanently aspirations of living a secure life in North America. Immigrants come to Canada hoping to live a normal Canadian life. They expect to be treated as equally as any Canadian citizen. For example for some from third world countries, Canada stands for a peaceful society that exercises equally. The harsh reality is far from this idealized situation. Immigrants are often treated as second class citizens or hyphenated Canadians (lecture, Mr. Webb, 2000). In fact, as mentioned earlier, immigrants represent a stable share of Canadian society. For instance, in 1991 immigrant women had a higher fertility rate than did Canadian born women (Badets & Chui, 1994, p.1, 4, 5, 20, 39). Recent research shows that gender discrimination still exists in Canada. Canadian women outnumber men yet are viewed as a minority (Teevan & Hewitt, 1995, p215). Thus, those of the female sex belonging to a visible minority will experience numerous hardships in societal integration. Since the widespread of the term Multiculturalism in 1971 sociologists have not settled upon a common definition. It has links to ethnicity, cultural diversity and plays a role in government policy (Li, 1999, p.148).

Furthermore, the base of cultural relativism feeds from the ideals of multiculturalism (Fleras & Elliott, 1999, p. 298). Ideally, Canadians should judge people according to their values and beliefs and not through ethnocentric eyes. It has almost become a reality that people from all over the globe tend to compare others according to the norms they grew up with, not taking into consideration what might be completely normal for those being judged (Henslin & Nelson, 1996, p. 37).


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