The Canadian government has sought to have multiculturalism evolve in the Canadian community so as to seal the ethnic loopholes which lead to racial and social injustices based on race, caste and various backgrounds. The policies are meant to undo all aspects of discriminatory perceptions in the Canadian diverse community. The success of multiculturalism is limited.
However it is a challenge to the history of social cohesion.
Cohesion is what makes various cultural backgrounds harmonize their socio-economic interests. In her purge to identify social discontentment within various cultures in Canada Nakhaie (2006) explains social injustices through discriminative aspects of the Canadian professionals and other stakeholders of the Canadian authority. Socio-economic inequality shows ethno-racial minorities have better qualifications but don’t have confidence in their identity as successful Canadians (pg, 150).
According to Patricia Roy (1995) the intentions of multiculturalism were basically to break down discriminatory attitudes and cultural jealousies. She quotes the a Canadian prime minister and says “National unity in the deeply personal sense must be founded on confidence in one’s own individual identity; out of this can grow respect for that of others (pg, 201)” However the essence of multiculturalism lacks virtue leading the Canadian society to a society of un-equal minority ethnic communities. Patricia seeks to create the picture of increasing racism in Canada.
The three pillars on which multiculturalism is built do not really give multiculturalism any autonomy. It rather creates radical rationales within the diverse ethnic cultures in Canada. Racial identity leads to inequality in the social classes, work and rank and income classification leading to disintegration of social justice and equity (150). Nakhaie draws a picture wherein there is no cohesion but various segments of dis-satisfied multicultural society. Immigrants have poor jobs and poor pay while certain ethnic and social groups enjoy employment and connections within political and social circles.
She points out factors leading to this imbalance of social equity as time of immigration, race, period of immigration and language. The consequence of this diversity and complexity in advocacy of multiculturalism is embedded in principals of institutions like the civil service and the civil society as well as other vital institutions. Through them, confidence in the principals of multiculturalism might be augmented in the people however, there seems to be an ideological dilemma in trusting the principals in the immigrants.
The Canadian government needs to be more versatile in making these institutions of governance compliant to the principals of multiculturalism through embarking and practicing social justice, equity and equal distribution of power and opportunities to all Canadians in-spite of their race, language or origin. Through this, confidence in the principals of a diverse culture will be embraced and the populace will be happy to identify with a diverse Canada. However, current practices have led to difference in opinion about personal identity in various immigrant societies. As such personal ideology and perception on the essence of cohesion within a multicultural society with apertures of unequal opportunities and social classes (Nakhaie, 2006)
Nakhaie is pinpointing the limitations of multiculturalism in Canada as a result of pervasiveness of an individual’s ideology about the difference in equitability of opportunities and social justice. Canadian government officials do not recognize professional background of immigrants leading to immigrants taking lower classification jobs.
About 88% of these people learn in Canadian institutions but only 19% of qualified immigrants get jobs they are qualified for in Canada (Basran and Zong, 1998). Multiculturalism fails since most immigrants see discrimination as rampant. They believe racial discrimination is rife through skin color, ethnic origin and the second language. Professional immigrants see no efforts to halt discrimination by the federal authorities.
Identity as a Canadian regardless of admission to Canadian community legitimately is void in immigrants. This is seen through lack of immigrant voters in federal, municipal and provincial polls. Social and economic background leads to this minimal participation in the electoral process (154). Efforts by minority groups in the civic level participate electoral processes is aimed at lobbying against discrimination and racial injustices (Nakhaie, 2006).
This inequality has led to limitations in the implementation of multiculturalism policies. There is no sense of identity in many legitimate immigrants in Canada. The sense of belonging and attachment to Canada lacks due to multiculturalism’s inefficiency to integrate the diverse cultures of the society. However this is contentious since huge percentages of French speaking immigrants express attachment to their provinces. But English immigrants are less proud of their Canadian identity.
The contention of multiculturalism lies within the context of socio-economic achievements, lower minority group’s representations in the formal political circle. Native Canadians and those who pride in their early immigration to Canada feel multiculturalism undermines the Canadian identity. This forces them to seek to show and prove their rightfulness as the legitimate and older generation of Canadians. This has led to the prevalence of inequality in social equity, seen within the context of representation, participation and employment in Canada (152).
Looking at assertions in her works, Nakhaie is emphatic on ideologies and policies. She say’s that “one can hypothesize that those who adhere to the ideology of individualism, privatism and corporatism would tend not to support racially targeted policies, believing instead that racial minority members are responsible for their own misfortune because of lack of talent, motivation and handiwork (153).” This is the cause of inequality in social justice regardless of policies that pit multiculturalism as essential to the integration of the society. Despite well intended policies multicultural cohesion is not achievable due to discontent to social injustices and inequality making Canada a racial society. Nakhaie argues that these policies do not suffice to convince the society of their equal opportunities.
The minorities feel they are not equal to other Canadians who pride in their culture and representation. The state polices are clear on representation. Government policies are clear that every Canadian should enjoy fundamental and unalienable rights all which he cannot be deprived by any body (Nakhaie, 2006). This has led to ideological differences about the need for the “equal opportunity” policies while the state takes them for granted.
Nakhaie says that “this taken for granted-ness seems to contradict state attempts intended to eliminate or reduce inequalities or to change the established conventions and the fundamental principals of social order. It therefore clashes with policies that address group-based systemic inequalities that are grounded in collectiveness or specifically support ethno-minorities (153).” This is the contention of ideological differences in identity and lack of success in multiculturalism.
The identity and pride associated with Canadian background is what multiculturalism stands for, however, the void due to various ethnic groups identifying with Canadian identity is what leads to an inequitable society. Various social backgrounds, ethnicity and social class differ with each other leading to diverse discontent with what the ideology of one Canada. English immigrants do not take pride in being Canadian while the French immigrants pride in the Canadian identity. This makes the future of multiculturalism unclear since there needs harmonization and integrations of cultures to make an equitable society.
Apart from policies, the state should put efforts in adding panache to multiculturalism. Nakhaie says immigration policies should offer satisfactory guarantee that equity and identity should be a right to every Canadian and that prejudices and any form of discrimination is liable to prosecution.
A set of implement-able policies to enhance multiculturalism and create a cohesive society:
Advocate for social networks within ethno-minority societies in Canada to enhance and improve their capacity in social capital, representation, and participation. This will improve their representation, involvement and participation in the Canadian economic and civil society
Advocate institutions practice of outreach missions to increase dissemination of information and policies to ethno-minority groups so as to enlighten and empower them about their rights and identity as Canadians who have rights like all other Canadians.
Encourage minorities’ participation on political and other social activities which will invoke belief of belonging through active participation.
Increase equity through equal distribution of all government resources, opportunities and other amenities to all Canadians so as to increase the notion of merit and awarding positions and other chances based on merit.
The need for multiculturalism has been embedded on a clear policy of social equity and unity. However waning confidence in identity as Canadians within the minority cultures has made the need for multiculturalism to lack value. This makes the future of multiculturalism unclear unless the above policies and ideals are used to up the perspective of multiculturalism. The need for tolerance and cohesion and the ending of the animosity and resentment towards immigrants will make multiculturalism work (Gairdner, 1990)
Basran, G and L.Zong. Deviation of foreign credentials as perceived by Non-White professional immigrants. Canada Ethnic Studies 30, No. 3:6-23
Patricia E Roy; The Fifth Force: Multiculturalism and the English Canadian Identity; Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 538, Being and Becoming
Canada. (Mar., 1995), pp. 199-209)
M Rizah Nakhaie; Contemporary realities and future visions; Enhancing multiculturalism in Canada: Canadian Ethnic Studies No 1, (2006)
William D. Gairdner, The trouble with Canada (Toronto: Stoddart, 1990), pp. 412-13.