12 Aug 2009

Sample Essay: Is Multiculturalism A Good Policy For Canada? Why? Would Other Models Followed By Other Countries Be Better?

This paper is a result of a short research on journals and articles on Canadian politics with efforts to analyze if Multiculturalism  is a good policy for Canada, if it is why, and whether other models followed by other countries are better. We shall compare models used in Australia and Sweden. These are some of the countries with different ethnic backgrounds, and establish the effectiveness of their models in coping with diversity. At a broader length the paper seeks to outline how Multiculturalism  contributes towards rational ideas of ethnicity and nationalism.

According to Bekker and Leilde (2003), word Multiculturalism can be used to describe the nature of cultural diversity in a community/society/nation. Multiculturalism can also be used as an ideology with the aim of incorporating ethnic[1] diversity in a society’s general structure (Gundara, 2001/2002). According to Henry (2002), Canada adopted a multicultural policy in 1971 which was enacted in 1988 recognizing the various communities and their rights to preserve their cultures. The Act in the Canadian charter on Multiculturalism  has two main provisions which dictate that: All Canadians are free to preserve and share their cultural heritages; their cultures and ancestral languages. It also states that, federal institutions should promote policies and practices that ensure that Canadians citizens of all cultural diversity and background have equal opportunity to obtain employment and advancement. By the year 1994, the Canadian government had legalized the main areas that needed to be addressed to support the implementation of the act. There was the need to eliminate racism and discrimination, to overcome problems of integration faced by the minorities[2].

Australia had a different model to address diversity. Australian Government used the model of assimilation to the dominant Angle-Celtic which is strongly ingrained as the way of achieving social integration. The model however did not achieve much in creating a society where each and everyone enjoyed equal right. It was until in 1998 when Australia adopted a policy recognizing Multiculturalism to be able to address diversity issue in their country. (Waters, 1994).

In contrast to Canada and Australia, Sweden own cultural identity was not based on the view of being an immigrant country. After the second World War the country started receiving large numbers of refugees and immigrants through the free movement established in the Nordic labor market after 1954. The initial model was that of Australia, assimilation model. Just as we have seen from the Australian model, the minorities did not enjoy the full cultural rights as the law would have required. The Finnish minority pressed for better and greater cultural rights. In the response this, the government adopted the ‘integration’ model in 1975, which was extended to other immigrants in the country giving them equal rights to have same living as the rest of the population. (Winsa, 1999).The model though viewed as an opposition to Assimilation share significant similarities with the Australian and the Canadian models.

Countries which have adopted Multiculturalism as their model for managing cultural diversity, considers Multiculturalism as a policy that depends not on one program but on the cumulative effect. (McClellan and Richmond, 1994) Policies such as Language and related educational policies have been a major spotlight in Australian, Canadian and Swedish policies of Multiculturalism.  The Multiculturalism policy allows all citizens from different cultural back grounds to learn to a reasonable level of competency( not necessarily in school) both the National language(s) and their mother tongue.  The policy is thus different from that of ‘assimilation’ or ‘isolation’ which focuses only on mother tongue or the national language. Multiculturalism in Canada and Australia has responded to cross-cultural training programs and employment of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds.  The importance of such policies has achieved a greater social justice and equity, and avoided the growth of structural  disadvantage among the minorities in Canada and Australia.

Lack of Multiculturalism may lead to lack of trust and national unity.(Einsberg (2002). National cohesiveness is lost since an individual may find it difficult to identify with the community. The sense of belongingness is also lost and individuals are not able to be assimilated with the majority.

The word Multiculturalism has been recognized worldwide by policy makers, social commentators, academics and the general public.(Henry, 2002).By adopting Multiculturalism , states recognizes  the existence of ethnic diversity and that individuals rights to retain their culture should go hand in hand with enjoying full access to, participation in, and adherence to, constitutional principles and commonly shared values prevailing in the society. This reduces social pressures for social conflicts based on disadvantage and quality.

Cultural differences need to be seen as good and be respected. These will poster cohesiveness, tolerance with one another, respect and national unity. If there is homogeneity as advocated by Eisenberg (2002), cultural loyalties will be regarded as private and this means they will not be officially recognized.

Canada enjoys an enviable balance between local control and regional ethnicities. (Henry, 2002). It can also be said that whether or not specific policies and practices are applied, the Canadians have achieved a degree of consensus on national identity which can not be compared to other Europeans countries. Multiculturalism is however faced with limitations when maintaining the cultural diversity as cases of marginalization and humiliation have been reported.  An entirely new approach is therefore needed which incorporates some doctrine of fundamental Multiculturalism. If Canada or any other country takes a lead in this ideological transformation then it places itself in a better position to be a leader in providing the best model to be emulated by others.


Bekker, S. & Leilde, A. (2003). Is Multiculturalism a workable policy in South Africa?International Journal of Multicultural Societies (IJMS), Vol. 5, No. 2, 119-134.

Eisenberg, A. (2002). Equality, trust and Multiculturalism .Canadian Journal of Political Science. 30, 711-736.

Gundara, J.S. (2001/2002). Multiculturalism  in Canada, Great Britain and Australia: Intercultural Education Role, London Journal of Canadian Studies. 2001/2002. Volume 17.57, 40-58.

Henry, F. (2002). Canadians Contribution. to the Management of Ethno-Cultural Diversity, Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol. 27, No. 2

McClellan, J. & Richmond, A. (1994).Multiculturalism  in Crisis: A Post-Modern Perspective, Journal on Ethnic and Racial Studies, vol. 17(4), 662-683

Waters, M. (1994) Globalization and Multiculturalism  and Rethinking the Social, Australian and New Zealand journal of Sociology vol.30 (3), 229-234

Winsa, B. (1999). Language planning in Sweden. Journal of Multilingual & Multicultural Development, vol. 20:4&5, pp. 376-473.

Ethnicity as used in this paper refers to a category of people who share a unique culture and who have undergone a common cultural socialization in that mother culture. It is also used to describe people who identify with an ancestral group or who have shared a distinct culture, but who have themselves been brought up in or moved to another culture

The minority concept I refer to  ethno cultural minorities who are Canadian citizens whose ancestral country of origin is outside Canada or as the federal government terms them, people of color who originate from ancestral territory outside Canada

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