Multiculturism in Canada

Canadian multiculturalism policy had its beginnings in the 1960s as immigration policy became (more or less) colour blind.  It is with this change in the political, cultural, and sociologically mindset that federal multiculturalism had its genesis.

Federal multiculturalism (the federal government has immigration within its purview) has had three development periods:

Pre-1971, the “formative period” from 1971-1981, and institutionalization (1982 to the present).

1.       Pre-1971

Canadian Citizenship Act (1947)

Until 1947, Canadians were considered “British subjects.”  Post-World War II immigration boom (primarily European) fostered this change.

Canadian Bill of Rights (1960)  

The Points System (1967)

The Canadian points system, which set criteria for both skilled and unskilled labour entry into the country including the “third world” giving opportunities from non-European countries more equitable access for the first time.

2.       The formative period from 1971-1981

Ministry of Multiculturalism (1973) was created to monitor the implementation of multicultural initiatives within federal government departments.  Increase in visible minority immigrants and their concerns about employment, housing and education challenges the result of racial discrimination became a federal government concern.

3.       Institutionalization of Multiculturalism (1982 – present)

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982)

Section 27 of the Charter addresses the elimination of “expressions of discrimination” by guaranteeing “equality and fairness” under the law, regardless of race or ethnicity.

Canadian Multiculturalism Act (1988)

The purpose of the Act is “to preserve, enhance and incorporate cultural differences” within Canadian society.  The Act also presented multiculturalism as a “positive instrument of change” aimed at the removal of barriers.  (accessed April 20, 2013) (accessed April 20, 2013) (accessed May 5, 2013)


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