Multiculturalism in Canada

Multiculturalism in Canada was officially adopted by the government during the 1970s and 1980s.[1] The Canadian federal government has been described as the instigator of multiculturalism as an ideology because of its public emphasis on the social importance of immigration.[2][3] The 1960s Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism is often referred to as the origin of modern political awareness of multiculturalism.[4]

Canadians have used the term "multiculturalism" in different ways: descriptively (as a sociological fact), prescriptively (as ideology) or politically (as policy).[5][6] In the first sense "multiculturalism" is a description of the many different religious traditions and cultural influences that in their unity and coexistence result in a unique Canadian cultural mosaic.[6] The nation consists of people from a multitude of racial, religious and cultural backgrounds and is open to cultural pluralism.[7] Canada has experienced different waves of immigration since the nineteenth century, and by the 1980s almost 40 percent of the population were of neither British nor French origins (the two largest groups, and among the oldest).[8] In the past, the relationship between the British and the French has been given a lot of importance in Canada's history. By the early twenty-first century, people from outside British and French heritage composed the majority of the population, with an increasing percentage of individuals who identify themselves as "visible minorities".

Multiculturalism is reflected with the law through the Canadian Multiculturalism Act of 1988 and section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and is administered by the Department of Canadian Heritage. The Broadcasting Act of 1991 asserts the Canadian broadcasting system should reflect the diversity of cultures in the country. Despite the official policies, a small segment of the Canadian population are critical of the concept(s) of a cultural mosaic and implementation(s) of multiculturalism legislation.[9] Quebec's ideology differs from that of the other provinces in that its official policies focus on interculturalism.[10]