Multiculturalism In Canada

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Multiculturalism In Canada

Canada has long been called "The Mosaic", due to the fact that it is made up of a varied mix of races, cultures and ethnicities. As more and more immigrants come to Canada searching for a better life, the population naturally becomes more diverse. This has, in turn, spun a great debate over multiculturalism. Some of the issues under fire are the political state's policies concerning multiculturalism, the attitudes of Canadians around these policies, immigration, the global market, and a central point is the education and how to present the material in a way so as to offend the least amount of people. There are many variations on these themes as will be discussed in this paper.

In the 1930's several educators called for programs of cultural diversity that encouraged ethnic and minority students to study their respective heritages. This is not a simple feat due to the fact that there is much diversity within individual cultures. A look at the 1991 Canadian census shows that the population has changed more noticeable in the last ten years than in any other time in the twentieth century, with one out of four Canadians identifying themselves as black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, Metis or Native. (Gould 1995: 198)Most people, from educators to philosophers, agree that an important first step in successfully joining multiple cultures is to develop an understanding of each others background. However, the similarities stip there.

One problem is defining the tem "multiculturalism". When it is looked at simply as meaning the existence of a culturally integrated society, many people have no problems. However, when you go beyond that and try to suggest a different way of arriving at theat culturally integrated society, everyone seems to have a different opinion on what will work. Since education is at the root of the problem, it might be appropriate to use an example in that context. In 1980, the American school, Stanford University came up with a program - later known as the "Stanford-style multicultural curriculum" which aimed to familiarize students with traditions, philosophy, literature and history of the West. The program consisted of fifteen required books by writers such as Plato, Aristotle, Homer, Aquinas, Marx and Freud. By 1987, a group called the Rainbow Coalition argued the fact that the books were all written by DWEM's or Dead White European Males. They felt that this type of teaching denied students the knowledge of contributions by people of colour, women, and other oppressed groups.

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