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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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