Today, June 27th is Canadian Multiculturalism Day. On this day, Canadians acknowledge and celebrate the fact that we are a nation of communities from diverse cultures and backgrounds. Multiculturalism as state policy was officially adopted by Pierre Trudeau’s government during the 1970s and 1980s. The federal government has endorsed multiculturalism as an ideology because of its public emphasis on the social importance of immigration.
In November 2002, the Government of Canada designated June 27th of each year as Canadian Multiculturalism Day. Canada prides itself on the rich, ethnically diverse landscape that represents this nation. Rather than becoming a cultural melting pot, we honour and encourage our cultural mosaic.
Multiculturalism is reflected in the law through the Canadian Multiculturalism Act and Section 27 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and is administered by the Department of Canadian Heritage. The Broadcasting Act of 1991 asserts the Canadian broadcasting system should reflect the diversity of cultures in the country.
Canada currently has one of the highest per capita immigration rates in the world, driven by economic policy and family reunification. Canada also resettles over one in ten of the world’s refugees. In 2008, there were 65,567 immigrants in the family class, 21,860 refugees, and 149,072 economic immigrants amongst the 247,243 total immigrants to the country. Approximately 41% of Canadians are of either the first or second-generation Canada includes at least thirty-four distinct ethnic groups, and 6.2% of the population self identify as a visible minority.
Multiculturalism day is an opportunity to celebrate our diversity and our commitment to democracy, equality and mutual respect and to appreciate the contributions of the various multicultural groups and communities to Canadian society.
Just walking down the streets of downtown Toronto reminds us of the cultural richness of this great country and reminds us that we’re all in it together.