Multiculturalism And Canada Essay, Research Paper
Is Multiculturalism Good For Canada Or Does
Create More Cultural Divisions In Our Society
Canada is a country of diversity. In addition to Aboriginal people and the founding British and French groups, there are a wide variety of ethnic groups represented in the Canadian population, including large numbers of German, Italian, Dutch, Ukrainian, Chinese, Black, and Indo-Pakistani people, among others. Close to 10% of the adult population of Canada are visible minorities, with this figure expected to double in the next twenty years. The psychological study of ethnic relations has much to contribute toward understanding and promoting positive relations among the varied ethnic groups now calling themselves Canadian.
Ethnic relations in Canada are particularly important to address at this time for several reasons. First, there is growing concern about strained ethnic relations in Canada, including awareness of the poor treatment of Native people, rising tensions between French and English Canadians, and prejudice toward visible minorities, who are increasingly represented in the Canadian population. In addition, because of the increasing ethnic and cultural diversity in Canada, there are now ethnic groups with very different cultural and religious backgrounds and practices who must try to get along in this country. These diverse ethnic groups are not expected to assimilate to one set of “Canadian” practices but, instead, under a policy of multiculturalism, they are encouraged to maintain their unique cultural backgrounds, while sharing in the Canadian experience. This may be a difficult task, given that cultural and value differences have been cited as a potential source of conflict among groups. Moreover, some ethnic groups bring with them histories of conflict in their countries of origin, and it is imperative that these histories do not become part of the Canadian fabric. Finally, exacerbating this situation is the fact that the current economic situation in Canada is characterized by financial restraint and competition over scarce resources. These conditions may lead individuals to question the benefits of Canada’s policy of multiculturalism and tolerance of ethnic difference. In particular, tolerance of diversity and support for multiculturalism may be seen as luxuries that we cannot afford in these times.
In this context, up-to-date research on ethnic relations in Canada is essential. The psychological perspective makes an especially valuable contribution in this regard because of its ability to generate testable research questions, which are addressed through empirical research. In understanding ethnic relations in Canada, these questions must address issues of ethnic identity as well as intergroup ethnic attitudes. Canadian psychologists recognize the equal importance of these two issues, and have focussed on studying ethnic relations from the vantage of both majority and minority group members. The research described in this issue of the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science attests to this comprehensive approach.
In the article on “Ethnic Relations in a Multicultural Society” by setting the stage for the empirical articles to follow. First, to highlight the Canadian setting, it is necessary describe the changing ethnographics of Canada and outline Canada’s policy of multiculturalism. Next, it is important to discuss the current state of ethnic identity and ethnic attitudes in Canada. Finally, a brief overview of the articles in this issue is submitted.
The Changing Ethnographics of Canada
The 1991 census of Canada indicated that the founding British and French groups are still the largest single ethnic groups in Canada, representing 28% and 23% of the population, respectively. An additional 18% of the population is made up of individuals of mixed British and French or British/French in combination with other ethnic backgrounds. However, close to a third (31%) of the population claim other ethnic backgrounds only. Increasing ethnic diversity in Canada, as represented in these other ethnic backgrounds, is largely attributable to changing patterns in origins of immigrants to Canada over the last few decades.
Despite relatively frequent changes in Canada’s immigration policy over time, the percentage of the population made up of immigrants has remained relatively stable over the last few decades, with the current level being approximately 16%. What has changed, however, is the proportion of immigrants coming from different source countries. In the early part of this century, most immigrants to Canada came from European and North American source countries. Beginning in the early 1960s and continuing to the present, however, a major shift has occurred such that these source countries have been increasingly replaced by Asian and Middle Eastern, and to a lesser extent Caribbean, Central American, South American, and African countries. Thus, the birthplace of immigrants to Canada has expanded considerably.
According to the 1991 census of Canada, European-born immigrants still make up the largest percentage of immigrants living in Canada (54%), followed by those born in Asia and the Middle East (25%). However, if one looks at immigrants who have arrived since 1961, it is evident that the representation of European-borns has declined considerably. Whereas European-borns made up 90% of immigrants who arrived before 1961, they constituted only 25% of immigrants who arrived between 1981 and 1991. In contrast, the percentage of Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants to Canada has risen markedly. Whereas Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants comprised only 3% of immigrants who came to Canada before 1961, they made up 48% of immigrants who arrived between 1981 and 1991. In fact, in a listing of the top 10 reported countries of birth for immigrants who arrived in Canada between 1981 and 1991, 6 countries fell into the Asian and Middle Eastern category: Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China, India, Viet Nam, Philippines, and Lebanon.
As a result of these changes, the ethnic composition of Canada is becoming increasingly diverse. Of particular importance is the rise in the proportion of visible minorities, who, as it is described shortly, may be especially likely to be the targets of prejudice and discrimination. Visible minorities, as designated in the Employment Equity Act of Canada, are “persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in colour”. Ten groups are officially designated as visible minorities in Canada – Blacks, Chinese, Filipinos, Japanese, Koreans, Latin Americans, Other Pacific Islanders, Indo-Pakistanis (or South Asians), South East Asians, and West Asians and Arabs. In 1991, these visible minorities represented close to 10% of the adult population of Canada, double the 1981 percentage. The majority of these individuals were immigrants to Canada, with over a third having arrived between 1981-1991.
In the next 20 years, the representation of visible minorities in Canada is expected to continue to rise so that, by the year 2016, it is estimated that visible minorities will likely comprise close to 20% of the adult population and 25% of children (projections based on trends in migration, fertility, and mortality). In addition, within the population of visible minorities, the growth rate of specific groups is expected to differ, leading to increased diversification. In 1991, Chinese, Blacks, and Indo-Pakistanis accounted for the largest percentage of visible minorities in Canada. However, the West Asian and Arab community in Canada is expected to show the fastest future growth rate, whereas Blacks and Indo-Pakistanis are expected to show the slowest growth rates. This is likely to have implications for how Canada’s policy of multiculturalism will be played out in the future.
In addition to visible minorities, many of whom are immigrants to Canada, it is important to consider the population of Aboriginal people in Canada, who have historically been targets of prejudice and discrimination. Aboriginal people are a separate designated group under the Employment Equity Act of Canada, and include North American Indians, Inuit, and M tis. In 1991, 4% of the Canadian population reported Aboriginal ancestry, more than double the 1981 percentage due to higher than average birth rates and reinstatements based on Bill C-31 amendments to the Indian Act. It is estimated that the percentage of the population with reported Aboriginal ancestry will increase by another 1/2% in the next 20 years, so that by the year 2016 it will reach 4.5% (projections based on trends in fertility, mortality, and reinstatements based on Bill C-31 amendments to the Indian Act).
Aboriginal people thus represent a sizable percentage of the population of Canada. In addition, their regional representation is uneven, with the largest proportional representation in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. In 1991, Aboriginal people represented approximately 10% of the population of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 23% of the population of the Yukon, and 61% of the population of the Northwest Territories. These are also the regions in which growth rates are expected to be highest, so that by the year 2016, Aboriginal people are expected to represent approximately 16% of the population of Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 24% of the population of the Yukon, and 67% of the population of the Northwest Territories. Thus, the Aboriginal contribution to multiculturalism in Canada should not be underestimated.
History and Current Status of the Multiculturalism Policy of Canada
Canada’s first official policy of multiculturalism, entitled “Multiculturalism within a Bilingual Framework” was announced by then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1971. This policy was developed in response to several major forces in Canadian society. First, in proximal terms, the policy was established to address the concerns expressed by ethnic minorities in response to the establishment of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. In 1963, the Royal Commission had been appointed to make recommendations on how to develop Canada as a nation on the basis of an equal partnership of the British and French charter groups, while taking into account the role of other ethnic groups. The emphasis on French equality was an indication that the Canadian authorities had begun to respond to French claims for equal status and, in particular, the Qu bec independence movement. The fact that the role of other ethnic groups in Canada was relegated to a secondary issue led members of these groups to be concerned about their relative positions in society. In particular, there was concern among other ethnic groups that their cultures and contributions to Canadian society would be devalued in comparison to those of the French and British. Pressure from these other groups led to a shift from biculturalism to multiculturalism. Thus, while the Official Languages Act of 1969 legally recognized the role of both the British and French groups in Canadian society, the multiculturalism policy of 1971 was put into place to provide recognition of other ethnic groups.
Second, at a more distal level, the liberalization of Canada’s immigration policy in the 1960s opened the door for recognition of multiculturalism in Canada. The 1962 immigration policy, formalized in the Immigration Act of 1967, put into place an immigration system that did not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, religion, or culture and was thus less discriminatory against non-Europeans than had previously been the case. This meant that immigrants to Canada were no longer restricted primarily to those of European background, but instead began to come from many different cultural backgrounds, leading to an increase in the salience of ethnicity. An official policy of multiculturalism was an obvious next step in acknowledging acceptance of this ethnic diversity.
Third, multiculturalism was set up as a national symbol for Canadians and fulfilled the need for a distinctive Canadian identity. The British cultural presence in Canada had weakened with the decline of the British empire after World War II, and an increasing American presence led to fears of loss of identity. Thus, one goal of a policy of multiculturalism was to establish Canada as a unique nation, unlike any other, and to differentiate Canadians from Americans. In describing one of the purposes of multiculturalism, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau stated in 1972 that “We become less like others; we become less susceptible to cultural, social or political envelopment by others.” By adopting multiculturalism as part of their collective identity, a distinctive Canadian identity, which could serve as a source of pride, was also established.
The stated purpose of the multiculturalism policy of 1971 was to encourage members of all ethnic groups in Canada to maintain and share their language and cultural heritage with other Canadians. This was expected to build personal and collective confidence among members of all ethnic groups, and thus promote tolerance of diversity and positive intergroup attitudes.
The more recent “Act for the Preservation and Enhancement of Multiculturalism in Canada” was passed in 1988, with minor organizational amendments since that time. Its stated objectives are to:
a) recognize and promote the understanding that multiculturalism reflects the cultural and racial diversity of Canadian society and acknowledges the freedom of all members of Canadian society to preserve, enhance and share their cultural heritage;
b) recognize and promote the understanding that multiculturalism is a fundamental characteristic of the Canadian heritage and identity and that it provides an invaluable resource in the shaping of Canada’s future;
c) promote the full and equitable participation of individuals and communities of all origins in the continuing evolution and shaping of all aspects of Canadian society and assist them in the elimination of any barrier to such participation;
d) recognize the existence of communities whose members share a common origin and their historic contribution to Canadian society, and enhance their development;
e) ensure that all individuals receive equal treatment and equal protection under the law, while respecting and valuing their diversity;
f) encourage and assist the social, cultural, economic and political institutions of Canada to be respectful and inclusive of Canada’s multicultural character;
g) promote the understanding and creativity that arise from the interaction between individuals and communities of different origins;
h) foster the recognition and appreciation of the diverse cultures of Canadian society and promote the reflection and the evolving expressions of those cultures;
i) preserve and enhance the use of languages other than English and French, while strengthening the status and use of the official languages of Canada; and
j) advance multiculturalism throughout Canada in harmony with the national commitment to the official languages of Canada.
The Act also describes a set of measures for implementing the policy.
As should be evident from this description, multiculturalism in Canada has evolved considerably since it first became policy in 1971. When the policy of multiculturalism was first introduced, it was developed to meet the needs of mainly European immigrant groups and their descendants in Canada. Thus, it was largely put into practice through support for cultural programs and activities, and language and heritage education. As diverse ethnic and racial minority groups immigrated to Canada, however, new concerns arose and were voiced. As a result, the policy of multiculturalism expanded to include the combatting of prejudice and discrimination, and the promotion of full and equal participation of ethnic minorities in all aspects of society, including mainstream economic, cultural, and political life. Justice and equality in all aspects of life are now emphasized.
The ideal of multiculturalism in Canada poses two desirable outcomes: the survival of ethnic origin groups and their cultures, along with tolerance of this diversity and an absence of prejudice toward ethnic minorities. To determine whether these goals have been met, now to turn the attention to two relevant issues: the current state of ethnic identity in Canada and of ethnic attitudes in Canada.
Ethnic Identity in Canada
Has multiculturalism been successful in encouraging individuals to maintain ancestral ethnic and cultural ties while simultaneously feeling a part of Canada? One way to look at this issue is to examine the self-perceived ethnic identity of Canadians. In contrast to ethnic origin, which refers to the ethnic group(s) to which one’s ancestors belonged, ethnic identity is a less objective, more psychological construct. In particular, ethnic identity refers to identification of oneself as belonging to and feeling a part of an ethnic or cultural community. This may occur on a symbolic level (i.e., symbolic ethnic identity – feeling pride in and attachment to one’s ethnic group) and on a behavioural level (i.e., behavioural ethnic identity – outward expressions of ethnicity and culture). Although the use of the term ethnic identity varies in generality in terms of whether it is used only for ethnic minorities or for all groups in Canada, in the present context it will be used to include identification of oneself as belonging to any ethnic group in Canada.
A national survey conducted in 1991, which included measures of symbolic ethnic identity, found that, in general, Canadians identify most strongly with being Canadian, rather than identifying with their ethnic origins. First, respondents were asked to select, from a list including the descriptors Canadian, Hyphenated-Canadian (i.e., ethnic origin plus Canadian, such as Greek-Canadian), Ethnic Origin only (e.g., Greek), and Provincial, the one identity which best described how they thought of themselves. Overall, 64% of respondents selected Canadian and 19% selected a Provincial identity. Only 13% of respondents selected Hyphenated-Canadian, and 4% selected Ethnic Origin only. It is interesting to note that selection of a provincial identity was especially likely to occur among French respondents in Qu bec where 50% provided a provincial identity (i.e., Qu b cois). This likely reflects the strength of the Qu bec nationalism movement.
Of course, restricting respondents to providing a single choice of descriptors may not be the best way of assessing full ethnic identity. For example, an individual may identify most strongly with being Canadian, and thus select the single descriptor Canadian, yet still identify relatively strongly with an ethnic origin as well. Thus, respondents were also asked to independently rate the degree to which they identified with each of the descriptors. In this case, responses were not mutually exclusive – for example, respondents could indicate that they identified strongly with all four descriptors. Overall, 82% of respondents strongly identified with being Canadian, with individuals born in Canada slightly more likely to show this strong identification. Similarly, 58% of respondents strongly identified with their province of residence, with Canadian-borns (61%) more likely to do so than foreign-borns (48%). Again, this strong provincial identification was especially likely to exist among French respondents in Qu bec. In contrast, only 26% of respondents strongly identified with being Hyphenated-Canadians and 23% strongly identified with Ethnic Origin only. In both of these latter cases, individuals born outside of Canada were more likely to show these strong identifications (Hyphenated-Canadian: foreign-born 37%, Canadian-born 25%; Ethnic Origin only: foreign-born 31%, Canadian-born 22%).
These results suggest that for most Canadians, especially those born in Canada, ethnic origins are not a strong part of identity. This is consistent with the suggestion that ethnic origins are not particularly salient for most Canadians, and that identification with ethnic origins tends to decline with successive generations. However, it is important to note that these findings are at the level of symbolic ethnic identity, and not behavioural ethnic identity. Although potentially related, one or the other of these two forms of identity may be retained independently. For example, an individual may practise ethnic traditions, but not have strong feelings of attachment to the ethnic group. Thus, although many Canadians may have weak symbolic ethnic identities, it is unclear what their behavioural ethnic identities may be. It has been suggested that behavioural ethnic identity declines over successive generations at an even faster rate than does symbolic ethnic identity. However, it is also the case that ethnic traditions and practices may be incorporated into mainstream Canadian culture and thus, at least superficially, be retained. Thus, the level of and relation between behavioural and symbolic ethnic identities are important issues for future research to address.
Ethnic Attitudes in Canada
Canadians take pride in their presumed tolerance of diversity and their absence of prejudice toward ethnic minorities. Is it, in fact, the case that Canadians are accepting of ethnic minorities? Ethnic attitudes are quite complex and thus are difficult to assess. They may include not only an overall evaluation of a group, but also affective, cognitive, and behavioural components. That is, in assessing attitudes toward an ethnic group, one might determine general favourability toward the group, as well as specific feelings, beliefs, and behavioural intentions toward group members.
The 1991 national survey assessed one aspect of these attitudes, which may perhaps be described as part of the affective component: perceived comfort in interacting with members of a group. In particular, respondents were asked to indicate how comfortable they would feel being around members of 14 ethnic groups, thinking of group members first as immigrants to Canada and then as having been born and raised in Canada.
Results revealed that comfort ratings for the various ethnic and immigrant groups were, in absolute terms, generally quite high (i.e., reports of feeling very comfortable). In addition, it is interesting to note that respondents indicated feeling quite comfortable among Native Canadian Indians, and did not differentiate them from groups of European origin. This is somewhat surprising given that previous studies have found substantial evidence of negative attitudes toward Native people in Canada. In contrast, however, the comfort levels expressed for many of the other groups of non-European origin were lower than those expressed for the groups of European origin (i.e., reports of feeling less comfortable). Of particular importance is that respondents generally reported less comfort being among many of the visible minority groups included in the list (e.g., Indo-Pakistanis, Arabs). This is grounds for concern, especially given the predicted future increase in representation of visible minorities in Canada.
Several other findings are noteworthy. First, French and British origin respondents expressed a mutual preference for members of their own group. That is, they each reported feeling more comfortable interacting with members of their own group than with members of the other group. Although the size of these effects are not large, they perhaps reflect some degree of intergroup tension. Second, overall, respondents generally reported feeling less comfortable with members of a group when these group members were rated in the context of being immigrants to Canada, rather than as born and raised in Canada. Finally, French origin respondents generally provided lower comfort ratings for all target groups (with the exception of the French target group) than did respondents who were of British and Other origins.
The latter two findings are both potentially attributable to perceptions of threat to values and culture. Canadians may feel less comfortable with recent immigrants to Canada than with second and later generation members of ethnic minorities due to the perception that recent immigrants are more likely to hold different values and have different cultural practices than do the rest of Canadians. This should be of particular concern because new immigrants coming to Canada in the future are likely to hold an especially wide range of religious and cultural beliefs, values, and customs. In addition, French Canadians may be more wary of ethnic minorities in general due to a perceived need to protect French culture and identity. The role of values and culture in ethnic relations in Canada certainly merits further investigation, as does the nature of other components of ethnic attitudes, such as stereotypes and behavioural intentions.
Preview of the Articles in this Issue
Previous volumes on ethnic relations in Canada have covered a range of topics. For example, Gardner and Kalin’s (1981) edited book on Canadian ethnic relations included sections on Conceptual and Historical Background, Social Development, The Language Issue, and Intergroup Relations. Despite the laudability of its breadth, however, most (though not all) of the research conducted at this earlier time focussed on the perspective of majority group members.
In contrast, in addressing ethnic relations in Canada, there is now a growing awareness that it is important to consider the perspectives of both majority and minority group members, who have vital roles to play in Canada’s future. Similarly, issues surrounding ethnic attitudes and ethnic identity must be taken into account. In fact, this new breadth of perspectives may be taken as an indication of sound multicultural research.
By emphasizing both majority and minority perspectives, it is believed that this special issue of the Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science serves several important functions. First, it reflects the reality of the current ethnic composition of Canada and its expanding diversity. As such, it provides the opportunity to broaden our understanding of ethnic relations in Canada.
This special issue consists of three sections. The first describes research directed toward an understanding of ethnic attitudes and prejudice. In their article, Aboud and Doyle use a laboratory approach to investigate communications between low and high prejudiced children. They find differences in the nature of the communications of children differing in level of prejudice and, encouragingly, they also find that the high prejudiced children show decreases in prejudice following communications with low prejudiced children. The articles by Kalin and by Palmer both focus on survey data. In his article, Kalin investigates the relation between attitudes toward each of 12 ethnic and racial groups and the presence of these groups in the community. In general, for groups of European origin, there is a tendency for attitudes to be more favourable toward members of the group as their presence in the community increases. For visible minority groups, however, no clear pattern emerges. Kalin suggests several reasons for the differences obtained. Palmer’s article also focusses on survey data, but directs attention to correlates and possible determinants of attitudes toward immigration. He investigates these possible determinants by examining relations both across several years of surveys and within a given survey. His findings call into question generalizations based on the symbolic racism hypothesis, and suggest that a number of factors are implicated in attitudes toward immigration.
The second section describes research concerned with perceptions of being a target of discrimination. There are two articles in this section, and both examine the personal/group discrimination discrepancy. In their article, Taylor, Ruggiero, and Louis discuss laboratory-based studies that investigate why members of minority groups tend to perceive more discrimination directed at their group in general than at them personally as members of that group. Results suggest that the discrepancy is due to the operation of two factors, namely, a shared stereotype about the prevalence of group discrimination, possibly fostered by media coverage, and a tendency to minimize perceptions of personal discrimination. Importantly, the authors discuss the possible psychological benefits of the minimization of personal discrimination. Dion and Kawakami also focus on the personal/group discrimination discrepancy, but look for evidence of the phenomenon in survey data obtained from members of six ethnic and racial groups. They investigate five different domains or situations (e.g., obtaining jobs), and find evidence for the phenomenon for all groups in some situations (e.g., obtaining jobs), but for only some groups in other situations (e.g., obtaining loans). They also find that sex of respondent interacts with ethnicity in determining the nature of the discrepancy in some domains, indicating that the personal/group discrimination discrepancy can be influenced by other factors.
The third section is concerned with ethnic identity and acculturation. There are three articles in this section. In the first, Noels and Cl ment investigate the relations among indices of interethnic contact, language behaviour, ethnic identity, and psychological adjustment, among French and English Canadians from high and low ethnolinguistic vitality contexts. They also test the adequacy of a path analysis linking these variables, and assess its applicability at each level of ethnolinguistic vitality for each language group. Differences between the models are interpreted in terms of different patterns of identification and adjustment required in communities differing in ethnolinguistic vitality. In the second article, Patterson, Cameron and Lalonde investigate women’s awareness of the intersection of race and gender with respect to attitudes toward issues involving women of colour. They report evidence indicating that how women identify themselves is reflected in their attitudes. They also evaluate a causal model linking race privilege, race/gender intersection, perception of marginalization, and separatist attitude. They conclude that it is not meaningful to divide identity into separate components, such as race and gender, but that the components intersect in such a way as to form distinct units. In the third article, Aycan and Berry study the impact of employment-related experiences on Turkish immigrants’ acculturation. They demonstrate that many such immigrants have difficulty finding employment suitable to their prior training and experience largely because of linguistic and economic factors. They also use causal modelling procedures to evaluate a model that proposes that employment-related experiences influence psychological health and that both employment-related experiences and psychological health influence adaptation.
The articles in this special issue are diverse in their approach, the nature of their samples, and the questions they ask. As a result, they provide an overview of the diversity of psychological research devoted to the study of multiculturalism in Canada. We hope that a careful examination of these articles will allow the reader not only to gain insight into the dynamics of the Canadian scene, but also to gain an appreciation of the ingenuity of the research that is currently being undertaken to understand these dynamics.