Canada became a multicultural society officially in 1971. Being a land mostly of immigrants, arguably we were multicultural from the start. Nevertheless this value is now built into our society and our legislation supports it.
Multiculturalism means that we recognize all people as equal and encourage them to keep their ethnic heritage alive.
I think that most people would say that multiculturalism has been a pretty good policy for Canada. Apart from French Canadians, we’ve seen very little unrest between people of different origins. Immigrant communities have been integrating into the general population without major incident for decades.
My local paper, the Vancouver Sun, has been looking at the ethnic make up of Vancouver. It is an interesting read if you’re not familiar with the ethnic make up of this diverse city.
It is also slightly disturbing in that it talks about a trend for ethnic groups to gather in certain neighbourhoods. This trend might mean that immigrants tend not to integrate into the wider Canadian society. I understand that there is safety in staying with your own people, keeping your language and customs alive.
The downside is that this groups then tend to be inward looking and suspicious of others. And that goes both ways of course.
As an immigrant myself I wanted to integrate into Canadian society. I wanted to have friends who were Canadian. I didn’t care about their ethnic origin. I admit it is good to meet up with fellow Brits from time to time because we can chat about the UK and share our British sense of humour. (In my biased opinion there’s nothing quite like it).
But I would not like to be living in a neighbourhood exclusively made up of ex-pat Brits.
Vancouver, and other major Canadian cities, will continue to attract many immigrants from all parts of the world. I hope that they will also continue to integrate with those immigrants who’ve already arrived. We welcome them on that basis.