Canadian Multiculturalism, Same as it ever Was?

Kathleen Hoyos

Abstract


After the Second World War ended, Canada was no longer mainly composed of its two dominant ethnocultural groups, French and English, but rather constituted by polyethnicity; meaning, Canadian culture was made up of many different ethnic groups. Since then, Canada has actively embraced multiculturalism and on 12 July 1988, the House of Commons passed Bill C-93, ‘An Act for the preservation and enhancement of multiculturalism in Canada’. The Canadian multicultural experience has been much portrayed as a celebration of ethnicity where different cultural groups share their customs and learn from each other. However, it is recently being rumoured that the multiculturalism hype is not all it is cut out to be and segregates communities rather than integrate. According to Canadian authors Keith Banting and Will Kymlicka, “in much of the world and particularly in Europe, there is a widespread perception that multiculturalism has failed” (44). In this paper, I examine some recent common issues of concern, especially, racism and discrimination, through the literary expression of Canadian playwrights and writers such as George F. Walker, Cecil Foster, and Mordecai Richler. These writers are not meant to represent any ethnic group as a whole, but rather try to project a general feeling about the nation in individual ways. I will finally explore the idea of how perhaps multiculturalism in Canada is evolving into another state since migratory patterns and the social circumstances that Canada is facing in the 21st century have changed. Today, the idea of celebrating different ethnicities and customs is no longer as important as celebrating the transcultural or “transnational” aspects of relations between individuals and groups of immigrants.

Keywords


multiculturalism; transnationalism; transnational literature

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1344/co20141333-45

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