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Positive and Negative Aspects of Multiculturalism In Canada

Canada is a homeland for a variety of cultures, because of the variety of

mixed races and has since been called “The Mosaic” for that reason. Canada has

great appeal to many immigrants that want to leave in search of a better life. This

in turn has made Canada one of the biggest sites for multiculturalism in the world.

Multiculturalism effects Canada in both positive and negative ways. Before

exploring these aspects, it is important to first understand the meaning of

multiculturalism. Its simple definition is the existence of a culturally integrated

society. By this definition, it seems easy to avoid problems, however, many

problems do arise when a society is forced to change and grow.

Education is causing a major problem when it comes to how it will deal

with a growing multicultural society. There has recently been complaints from

various cultural groups abut Canadian school curriculum. In 1987, a group called

the Rainbow Coalition argued that the majority of the books in the curriculum

were written by dead, white, European males. They felt that this was denying

students of the knowledge of the contributions of people of colour, women, and

other oppressed groups. Toward the end of 1987, the faculty voted 39-4 to

change the curriculum and eliminate the term “western” in order to implicate

at least one study of non-European culture (Gould, 1995).

Supporters of multicultural education argue that it offers students a

balanced appreciation of other cultures as well as our own (Stotsky, 1992). This

does hold some validity, but it is also true that one would never have enough time

in a school year to equally cover the contributions of each individual nationality.

This type of pressure is being placed on to teachers by many cultural activists all

over Canada. The only options teachers have would be to lengthen the school

year, or to modify the curriculum to fits what each teacher individually feels are

the most important contributions. Lengthening the school year is too

controversial, and option two also would lead to criticism from groups that were

ignored. National standards cannot be implicated because different parts of the

country contain certain concentrations of nationalities. An example of this is the

high concentration of Asians in british Columbia or Blacks in the East.

In one Vancouver classroom, an inventive first grade teacher used

minority students to her advantage by making them helper as she taught the rest of

the class some chinese words and customs. This newly acquired vocabulary

formed a common bond between the children in their early years, an appropriate

time for learning and understanding (Pyszkowski, 1994).

There certainly is no answer to the problem of multicultural education.

The truth is that it is impossible for our school system to cater to the hundreds of

nationalities that exist among us.

Cultural diversity also has many advantages as well. Diversity can be a

decisive advantage in today’s competitve international business environment.

New cultures bring energy, entrepreneurship, linguitic skills and different


This growing diversity that Canada is experiencing is requiring them to

make certain adjustments to ensure that all Canadians can participate fully in our

society. These adjustment enable the integration of minority Canadians while

encouraging our institutions to remove descriminatory barriers (Blackman, 1993).

Many of Canada’s social norms and mores have been affected by the

recent wave of multicultural immigration. For instance, some cultures are based

around practices that favour specific genders. In so many cultures, men are put in

control over women. This causes problems when it is diffused into Canada.

Some examples of these problems are the cultures that allow clitoridectomy, the

marriage of children, or poligamy.

Despite examples of crumbling Canada’s social structure, many people

also feel that multiculturalism is vital in uniting Canada. When Canada becomes

completely and equally multicultural, racism will finally come to a stop. A large

step toward this was the implementation of the Canadian Multicultural Act. It

was passed by Canada’s parliament in 1988. Its aim was to preserve and intensify

multiculturalism by promoting the recognition of Canada’s cultural diversity.

The Employment equity Act was also created for the purpose of dealing with

minorities. This ensures that members of four general groups achieve equitable

representation and participation in the work force. The four groups included are

women, Aboriginals, people with disabilities, and members of visible minorities.

The edition of these two programs also bring new jobs to the workforce.

Other advantages diversity brings are different linguistic skills, cross-cultural

business expertise, and natural trade links with foreign markets.

Multiculturalism will only have a chance if the rest of Canada allows it to.

In order to promote the learning of other cultures, we have to first be aware of any

ethnocentrism that plagues the country. These bias’ must be recognized and

eliminated to properly understand other cultures.

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