Canada is a multicultural country. Everyone, especially those who live in big cities, see and hear multiculturalism at work all around, every day.
Although multiculturalism has its supporters, it has its ardent critics as well who doubt its effectiveness. This despite the fact that Canada has successfully promoted multiculturalism to convey a climate of tolerance and inclusion to attract skilled workers, which resulted in an influx of talents and foreign capital, helpful in bolstering the economy.
One of the most common issues critics raise is on language. Canada has two official languages, English and French. And although majority of the population speak either of the two languages, about 6.6 million, or approximately 1 in 5 Canadians, speak their native tongue at home.
Critics argue that language is at the core of a country’s identity. The fact that census numbers show recent migrants’ languages (such as Punjabi, Tamil, and Mandarin) persist in the household through succeeding generations makes critics nervous that these new Canadians may be diluting the country’s English and French roots.
What these critics miss to recognize is that multiculturalism is a culture. It is part of Canada’s identity.
Multiculturalism in Canada began even before it became an official policy in 1971. Canada has welcomed migrants since the early 1800s. And despite countless debates on the benefits and folly of multiculturalism, the inflow of people kept increasing.
Why? Because aside from the economic benefits, Canada has since then effectively ingrained kindness and compassion into its culture. The world has come to know Canada as a country that upholds humanity.
In all, multiculturalism has given Canada an identity of cultural tolerance and compassion – qualities that are understood regardless of language.