Cultural Diversity


Immigration: Success?
Syrian Refugee Initiative
Multiculturalism Today
Limits of multiculturalism
Aboriginal Peoples' Past
Aboriginal Rights Today


Canada is characterized by extreme cultural diversity. This was true from the start, with the presence of very diverse First Peoples. Then there was the European settlement by two main groups, the French and the British, resulting in a country which was said to be bicultural. In addition to these two "founding peoples" as they were long called, Canada's cultural diversity also derived, and is constantly reinforced, by the very diverse immigrant groups that contributed, and still contribute, to its population.


As a result Canada developed institutional and governmental strategies to accommodate the cultural diversity of its peoples, whether they are national minorities, like the French Canadian group and the First Nations, or immigrant minorities.


The demands of national minorities can be met through federalism: the cultural and linguistic needs of the French Canadians are the primary reason for the adoption of federalism as Canada's institutional framework in 1867. Today, the flexibility of the federal structure makes it possible to grant a large measure of self-government to the national minorities (the French Canadian group and the First Nations (creation of the territory of Nunavut under control of the Inuit group).


In the more recent past, the special needs of immigrant minorities have been accommodated by the great reform of immigration laws in the 1960s and the policy of multiculturalism, adopted in the 1970s. The Canadian immigration system and the policy of multiculturalism encourage the harmonious integration of immigrant groups into Canadian society, while respecting their special needs and customs.


Reference: Will Kymlicka, Finding our Way: Rethinking Ethnocultural Relations in Canada, Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1998.