What is Canada? What is a Canadian? Canada, to employ Voltaire's analogy, could be nothing but “a few acres of snow.”. Of course, let it be known, for the benefit of history, that the philosopher spoke of New France, when he made that analogy. More recently, a former Prime Minister, Joe Clark, said that the country was nothing but a “community of communities”. Both these images have helped us, in one way or another, try to interpret what could define this country. On the other hand, a Canadian could be a beer, a hockey-playing beaver or even a canoe floating in a summer day's sunset. For many, a Canadian could also be a “sovereigntyphobe”, refusing to see the liquefaction, albeit political, of the second largest country in the world. In this era of multiculturalism, could the ongoing migration flow help ascertain what is a Canadian and what is Canada?
Is Multiculturalism a Cerberus of Canadian identity?
Throughout history, Canada has been the playground of three groups: the First Nations, the French and the British, who left an ineradicable trace upon the way the country's society is set up. Yet, some of the newer waves of immigration did not fit in within the social structure. During the 19th century, some clashes occurred in parts of the British North American colony. The newer migratory flux have also impacted the Canadian way of life. In the 1970s, Pierre Elliott Trudeau decided to use multiculturalism as a “way of dealing with discontent over the report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism1.”. For some, this report dealt primarily with French and English linguistic issues and did not pay enough attention to issues referring to other groups within the Canadian population. In a more general extent, “multiculturalism policies in Canada have attempted to assist cultural group in overcoming barriers so as to allow them to integrate more fully in society.2”. However, the notion of multiculturalism itself was criticized by the Spicer Commission on National Unity. This commission was put forward by the government, as a response to the popular perception that the country's unity was vulnerable to potential linguistic and regional divisions. Other to the multiculturalism ideology, Quebec emphasizes another theory: interculturalism, or the notion of support in cross-cultural dialogue and challenging self-segregation tendencies within cultures. In the province, the word multiculturalism announces pejorative meanings. This was due, in part, to the fact that “a federal commission which was charged several years ago with the task of developing policies for Canada, based on its bicultural and bilingual character emerged with a recommendation that Canada think of itself as a multicultural and bilingual country.3”. Francophones, on the other hand, felt that this concept placed them at the same level as minority ethnic groups, erasing their thoughts of being one of the country's founding nations.