Immigration Canada's future

By  Eugene Mccarthy, Catholic Register Special
  • May 29, 2008

{mosimage}WATERLOO, Ont.  - Multiculturalism, far from representing a static state, has become an ever-evolving social pattern in Canada.

That was the view expressed in a recent talk at St. Jerome’s University by Gregory Baum, professor emeritus at McGill University’s faculty of religious studies.

Baum outlined how native-born Canadians adapted to cultural changes, gradually assuming their own identities separate from Britain and then described the differences immigrants encounter undergoing their assimilation.

The result has led to a “complex, cultural pluralism” in most parts of the country, he said.

The relaxation of  immigration rules in 1967 and the official government recognition of multiculturalism in 1971 and its equality guarantees led to the “host culture and incoming cultures intermingling and creating the future of Canada.”

Before and after the Second World War, in a country still tied to Britain in many ways, many inequalities existed “and people accepted class division as their fate.”

Baum said cultures can be divided into political, economic, linguistic, religious and family categories, each of which has found immigrants adapting to a new way of life and yet retaining many of the values of their home countries.

He noted that new Canadians long for political stability, many having come from unstable homelands. They are “profoundly offended by prejudice and discrimination” and therefore, tend to “fight racism publicly,” form organizations, elect spokespersons and join political parties.

They want very much to succeed economically but are often “exploited” by employers.

“It is scandalous that foreign-trained doctors can only find work as cab drivers,” Baum said.

Many wish they could lose the accents of their native country and all want their children to be educated in English, even in Quebec. And, many find the family values of native Canadians “quite shocking,” especially when they see children having much more freedom and equality between men and women is actively promoted.

And, religion has always been important to new Canadians who “take continuity and solidarity” very seriously.

“The future of Canada is intertwined with immigration and together we will continue to construct the country,” he concluded.

(McCarthy is a freelance writer in Waterloo, Ont.)

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