There were no fanfares, no parades: Canadians coast to coast simply went about their business as they marked the Multiculturalism Day today.
With immigration being one of the driving forces behind the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote to leave the European Union, Canadian politicians came out with statements of support for the policy that has shaped the face and the fabric of Canada over the last four decades.
“As the first country in the world to adopt a policy of multiculturalism 45 years ago, Canada has shown time and time again that a country can be stronger not in spite of its differences, but because of them,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.
“As Canadians, we appreciate the immense freedom we have to show pride in our individual identities and ancestries. No matter our religion, where we were born, what colour our skin, or what language we speak, we are equal members of this great country.”
Canadians can trace their roots to every corner of the globe and speak over 200 languages, Trudeau said.
‘As synonymous with Canada as the Maple Leaf’
According to the 2011 Canadian census, Canada had a foreign-born population of about 6,775,800 people. They represented 20.6 per cent of the total population, the highest proportion among the G7 countries.
Asia was Canada’s largest source of immigrants from 2006 to 2011, although the share of immigration from Africa, Caribbean, Central and South America increased slightly, according to Statistics Canada.
Nearly 6,264,800 Canadians identified themselves as a member of a visible minority group. They represented 19.1 per cent of the total population. Of these visible minorities, nearly two-thirds were born outside the country and came to live in Canada as immigrants, the data analysis agency said.
“Our national fabric is vibrant and varied, woven together by many cultures and heritages, and underlined by a core value of respect,” Trudeau said. “Multiculturalism is our strength, as synonymous with Canada as the Maple Leaf.”
‘Human societies benefit from diversity’
His words were echoed by the Interim Official Opposition and Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose.
“In Canada, we believe that every citizen has value and something to contribute, regardless of where you were born, your heritage, or your religion,” Ambrose said in a statement. “Whether you have recently arrived to this country or your family has been here for generations, you should have the equal opportunity to support your family, your community, and your country.”
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said multiculturalism continues to propel Canada forward culturally, economically and politically.
“Ecologists know that ecosystems are more resilient with greater species diversity,” May said. “So too, do human societies benefit from diversity.”
‘Root of our being’
The New Democratic Party spokesperson on multiculturalism issues Rachel Blaney said while the NDP is honored to highlight Canada’s diversity, we cannot take it for granted.
“We cannot stand by silently when bigotry, discrimination and racism continue to be given platforms here at home and abroad,” Blaney said.
Canada’s Governor General David Johnston said diversity goes far beyond skin colour.
“It goes to the very root of our being, of how we see ourselves and, in turn, how we see others,” the governor general said. “Beyond our origins and customs, we are all the same: we celebrate together in times of triumph; we grieve together in times of sorrow, and we reach out to one another in times of need.”