It always seemed to be true that we live in a multicultural country. However, it does not seem that our history reflects our multicultural theory. It was not until 1971 when the government of Canada started to do systematic reforms to our immigration policy. The policies that Canada had had before in terms of immigration has been rather discriminatory.
The first policy that our country adopted is seemingly our national secret. The extinction (Beothuk), assimilation (Indian Residential Schools), and the overwhelming residual effects felt by many natives. However, the latter seems to be manufactured, and more of an unwillingness on those who seek pity.
The Chinese soon faced the government discrimination when they were enslaved into building the railroad at great cost in terms of lives. They like many other backgrounds were given a head tax, and discouraged to come to Canada.
Komogata Maru is another reminder of the reality of the governments attitude to refugees. They quickly learned of the harshness of these policies when they returned home.
The Japanese felt the policies of exclusion when they were interned into camps out of fear they would do something bad. All in the name of war.
However, it was not until the 70’s or late sixties when the governments slowly changed to start adopting principals that were indeed “multicultural.” The government introduced a plethora of changes to the system to enhance that Canada is truly accepting. Though, many people who do come to Canada have segregated themselves in their local communities. This community generally in larger cities like Toronto and Vancouver embody an element of connection and safety. These policies have come in conflict with bilingualism which has been a heated part of national cultural.
While the nation has been Anglo-Protestant oriented since the founding, it goes to say, the Quebec culture has been more of a prominent factor then multiculturalism. One could argue that while promotion of multiculturalism, the national conflict with Quebec being separate is not inviting. The October Crisis of 1970 showed the federal governments response to a radical form, yet National Assembly backed separatist group. Though, the murder of LaPorte dissuaded such a radical approach.
Once again, the Oka Crisis in Quebec and the military response may not be inviting to those who believe the multiculturalism is a benefit to Canada.
The government introduced the mosaic of culture to Canadians, at the expense of tax payers. This was an idea that when an immigrant came to Canada the government would have a promotional program for their culture. That culture may be funded by the government, unless perhaps the community was more self-sustaining.
This became to be a national hindrance in my opinion. It was not really accepting of the multicultural mosaic that supposedly could be felt across the country. However, rural towns and villages may not represent a welcoming and openly accepting of multiculturalism. Even in larger communities, we are faced with the critical need to hire based on background. To meet a quota.
Ben Johnson could feel the reality of multiculturalism (Bissondooth). When he won in the Olympics he was indeed a Canadian. Once he was busted, he back the marginalized “Jamaican… drugs.”
It is apparent that even qualified immigrants are not recognized, while those who come from within the commonwealth are recognized over, perhaps a better trained immigrant from another country.
The multicultural policy becomes a national issue that is reflected in the work place, school etc. Blame is made for problems in terms of employment, education and other forms of advancement. However, the policies ostensibly expect Canadians to embrace other cultures, while being swept under the rug with a history of backlash to the two main sub-cultures that really have indeed been marginalized, if not oppressed; Quebec and Aboriginals.
The policies to define who a Canadian really is, can be dismissed if critically assessed. The policy of exclusion, or relevance to the Anglo-Protestant culture is more dominant, and presently welcomed to a degree in Canada. Statistics Canada doesn’t lie, still Quebec, and Aboriginals are marginalized in terms of employment and education. However, what becomes a streak in our portrait of an accepting country is our utilitarian nature of how we deal with immigrants in Canada.
Historically we have oppressed them, taxed them and used them essentially for slave labor. Not to mention detain them and liquidate their assets. Historically, Canada is not multicultural. The sixties, and the social revolution may have hindered on the government to respond to the growing consensus, and perhaps create a more accepting country on the surface, but in reality a country that is divided, conflicted and at times panders to the certain communities out of electoral necessity as the Harper government is doing now.
It is easy to gerrymander to those who could vote for you, and then ignore them when in office.
Canada in my opinion has created a cultural of discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, and religion. It is an argument that can be denied or agreed. But the reality of the matter is, Canada is not a united country of many cultures, but a segregated country of a dark history of further segregation.