On Monday the 27th of June Canada celebrated national Multiculturalism Day. As a CBC reporter observed, "there were no fanfares, no parades: Canadians coast to coast simply went about their business."
In reality there is little awareness of this annual day as it does not get promoted in the same way as Canada day. Of the 42 local events that were officially posted on the website of the department of Canadian Heritage about half were in the province of Ontario and the others were spread across the country.
Many of the events listed were celebrations of what multicultural critics like to call the folkloric aspects of multiculturalism. These are celebrations of specific cultural expressions of some of Canada's ethnic communities that are the facets of multiculturalism these critics insist are divisive.
The abundance of ethnic food, song and dance are seen as undercutting newcomer adoption of Canadian culture.
The multiculturalism bashers are generally silent when it comes to Saint-Patrick's day celebrations (perhaps they think Irish cultural expression is not multiethnic), Carifesta in Montreal, Caribana in Toronto, Black History Month, Asian History Month, various ethnic film festivals and other ethnic artistic and cultural displays.
They worry that such expression of minority ethnic cultures often benefits from government support (the corporate sponsorship doesn't bother them). We're fortunate that these 'bashers' don't decry the ethnic show at Montreal's Just for Laughs comedy fest or protest the broadcast of the dangerous multicultural message arising from such CBC productions as Little Mosque on the Prairie (they can take solace in the fact that the show stopped airing in 2012). Thankfully they're also not out there demanding more Canadian food and less ethnic cuisine.
Critics continue to insist that Canadian multiculturalism sends the wrong message to newcomers and their children by discouraging them from becoming more like the rest of us. The critics may however want to pay more attention to the message that multiculturalism is conveying to many non-immigrant Canadians. A March 2016 survey done by the firm Leger Marketing for the Association for Canadian Studies and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation reveals that some 52% of Canadians hold a positive view of Canadian multicultural policy, with 30% holding a negative view and 18% that do not respond.
At 63%, the youngest segment of the population surveyed aged 18-24 is most positive about multicultural policy compared with 46%, of those 65 and over who were the least positive. Those Canadians that are most positive about Canada's multicultural policy are considerably more likely to have favorable views of indigenous peoples, immigrants, Jews and Muslims.
The most pro-multiculturalism were also far more likely to have contact with members of these groups. It is worth noting that some 85% of the most pro-multicultural have a favorable opinion of language duality in contrast with the 20% that share this favorable view amongst those most negative towards multiculturalism.
So the most negative towards multiculturalism are the most hostile to minorities, have the least contact with them and don't like bilingualism. The most favorable value diversity, interact more frequently with diverse groups and appreciate our two principal languages. When it comes to my children, I'll take the more forward looking pro-multiculturalism message in a flash.
On Canadian multiculturalism day the Prime Minister's multicultural message was bang on: "Our roots reach out to every corner of the globe. We are from far and wide, and speak over 200 languages. Our national fabric is vibrant and varied, woven together by many cultures and heritages, and underlined by a core value of respect. Today, let us celebrate multiculturalism as a vital component of our national fabric, and let us express gratitude to Canadians of all backgrounds who have made, and who continue to make, such valuable contributions to our country."
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