Can Canada’s Multiculturalism address racism? An assessment of its 50-year history suggests the answer is ‘No.’

Can Canadian Multiculturalism help us respond to calls for action to address anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in the country?  Prof. Reitz’ essay in “Multiculturalism @50” assessing 50 years of Canadian Multiculturalism Policy says that for this to happen, the meaning of multiculturalism in Canada will have to change. 

His brief essay, entitled “Popular multiculturalism as social capital: trends and prospects,” argues that despite the grand principles of multiculturalism expounded by politicians and philosophers in Canada and around the world, the actual impact of multiculturalism in Canada depends very largely on what that word means to the average Canadian.  How does multiculturalism in Canada function as “social capital” enabling collective goals for inter-group relations to be achieved?  The essay reviews three phases of multiculturalism policy in Canada – first, a cultural maintenance emphasis, then an equity emphasis, and most recently an immigration program emphasis.  Evidence suggests that Canadians are very supportive of minority groups maintaining their distinctive culture (provided they fund it themselves), and in recent years they feel a national duty to support immigration policy.  However, regarding equity they agree with the principle but lack enthusiasm for any government intervention to promote it.  The implication may be that public support for multiculturalism may have little effect on how Canadians handle recent calls for greater equity for Blacks and Indigenous Peoples. 

Read the full essay in:

Jeffrey G. Reitz. 2021. “Popular multiculturalism as social capital: trends and prospects.” Canadian Issues / Thèmes Canadiens, Special Issue entitled “Multiculturalism @50 and the Promise of a Just Society,” Fall/Winter, Pp. 39-44.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: