Racial Ethnic Groups In Canada History Essay

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Even though the country has survived all these years in plurality and can continue, without political commonality and cultural tolerance on a grand scale, there will remain a lack of Canadian central identity (Kim, 1993, p. 258). With each native culture, the Francophones and the Anglophones, seeking its own ends an equitable solution to their national pluralism remains out of reach. While the country continues to be inundated with immigrants seeking residence, who possess their own cultural identity (Chinese, Indian and Pakistani) (Tiwari & Wang, 2006), the unique cultural identity of Canada becomes diluted proportionately, as the native Canadians continue an exercise in duality.

The Same Beginnings, Differing Power

The nation of Canada was settled by both the British and French, and with the inclusion of the native peoples (the Aborigines, Inuit and the mixed races), should have borne all the tools for a successful melding. However, as is often said, power corrupts, and the defeat of the French by the British opened up the avenue for British domination that still exists even today. Albeit while the French retained the ability to speak their own language, and serve God in their own religious style (Catholicism), their power to govern themselves solely, was limited (Marger, 2009 p.433).

Even today the Canadian senate still exists as a study in majority rule, minority under representation (McCormick & Ploeg, 2000). A movement is afoot to reform the Canadian governing system so as to address more of the concerns of its many people. While the Francophones have inhabited Quebec since the very beginning, a small province in Canada, their representation is just now reaching a equitable level, through the inclusion of non-British, non-English speaking immigrants (Marger, 2009 p.450).

The United States also has a democratic system that more so addresses the needs of the many over the few, and with the election of an Afro-African president, looks to at least acknowledge the existence of minorities and their inclusion within the government. As the Canadians work to solve their problems on a more all encompassing scale, one would hope that the strengths of one culture would outweigh the powerlessness of another, and the inexperience of the immigrant seeking to become wholly Canadian, will lend itself to enhancing the power of the misrepresented.

Majority and Minority

From the very beginning, after the defeat, the British (English speaking) citizens of Canada outnumbered and overpowered the French speaking and the First Nations (Aborigines) (Marger, 2009 p.434). With the addition of other English speaking peoples the French became a minority, even in their own province. As is well known, numbers determine power and with the increasing numbers of English speaking peoples, the power resided in the hands of the English Canadians (Anglophones).

Over time the ethnic stratification of Canada has changed, however, not as much as one would expect. One of the more continuous stratifications, religion, remains a dividing factor. It has been noted that most Canadians consider themselves religious, with only 12.5% non-religious and 1.9% atheist in nature (Koenig, 2009). This religious conviction was one of the governing factors in the development of the Quebec traditional nationalism that extended even into the education and training of its workforce (Marger, 2009 p.434-5). It is the absence of a civil religion that is thought to be a significant factor in the dualism present in Canada from the very beginning until today (Kim, 1993, p. 258).

Speaking of the workforce and its division among the Francophone, Anglophones and Allophones (non-French nor English speaking); the division of labor still rests along cultural lines. According to Marger, the breakdown is as follows, with only the French speaking required to speak both English and French:

British, Jewish and Asian are overrepresented in the managerial, professional and technical careers

Ukrainian, Scandinavian, Dutch, German and Russian are overrepresented in the agricultural trades, whereas

The Italian, French and Hungarian make up the majority of the blue-collar trade (Marger, 2009 p.449).

Many of the cultures shown above brought their innate cultural capabilities to Canada and that could be a discerning factor as to what occupations comprise their ethnic hierarchy, however it is clear to see that the Francophone still inhabit a position of lower status in employment opportunity. While there have been great strides in the accomplishments of the French speaking, it is just now that they occupy positions previously held by the Anglophone, even in their own province (Marger, 2009 p.451).

Prejudice and Discrimination

In insurance there is a term often used, "unfair" discrimination. Unfair discrimination is against the law, in that one cannot be discriminated against if all things are equal. Under this context the racial status of one person has nothing to do with whether or not one is more or less considered fit, over another. However, if there exist other subtle issues that would present a tangible difference in the way one person compares to another, then one can be discriminated against based on those differences.

The capability to assimilate, progress and add to the national standard in Canada was used as a means to discriminate against non-whites and non-English speaking immigrants (Marger, 2009 p.452-3). And the very existence of a tangible territorialism among Canadians makes integration that much more difficult (Kim, 1993 , p. 260). One would wonder how then an immigrant, non-English, non-French speaking, non-White would fare in the Canada of yesterday. With decreasing numbers of immigrants since the inception of the Francophone Anglophone divide the number of immigrants still remains steady based on current population, as a tribute to the changing level of racial harmony, from 91% in the early 60's (when the native population was also low in number) to around 20% in the early 2000's(Tiwari & Wang, 2006 ).

It becomes increasingly difficult for one to adapt to another culture, when that culture has a mind to disallow your easy assimilation. In light of the internal strife between Francophones and Anglophones, it is no wonder that Allophones would find it more difficult to blend in. The presence of the Black man in cultures around the globe lends itself to a ready gauge of just how racially and culturally a society has advanced, and the presence of the Black man in Canadian culture indicates that they are working towards a more uniform acceptance of those unfairly discriminated against. Would that the American cultural model was just that forward thinking, one would be less likely to see discrimination on such a grand scale.

When looking over the recent developments in racial and immigration acceptance in Quebec, one cannot help but look back over the great strides the Franophones took to maintain a certain cultural mix. Through legislation (immigration agreements) the Quebecois sought to determine whom could be admitted, how they were admitted, how they would be received, and where they would settle in the province (Kostov, 2008). Because the province was able to obtain legislation to tailor their immigration program to their own particular desires, they could be seen to be more selective than the government.

Ethnic Relations; Their Stability and Change

The most basic ethnic relations taking place in Canada up until the more recent past, were the relations between the Anglophones and Francophones. Sharing a dual history, with dual colonization, dual language and separate religious freedom, did nothing to bring about a shared sense of nationalism. While the Anglophones maintain a position of strength and political power, the Francophones maintain a political presence in their own territory that rivals the power of the nation, in its completeness.

Both parties have sought to make Canada a more accepting locale for those seeking a new home, as their cultural diversity allows for a more tangible tolerance for those of other cultures (Marger, 2009 p.457). Lacking though is a sense of national oneness (Kim, 1993, P. 261-2), something readily apparent in American culture. When immigrants are admitted to the United States, they are required to learn the national history, to become proficient in the national language and agree to support the national objectives of the country.

It would seem far easier to assimilate into a culture that had a shared history, language and national essence as does the United States. The very essence of pluralism in Canada makes it more difficult for immigrants to ascribe to a national ideal (Marger, 2009 p.456). The existence of a multicultural model takes precedence now. The existence of a culture that encompasses the dualist cultures and all who have come after it is in essence the new Canadian culture personified (p. 459).

Seeing beyond that which was evident in the past, and working towards a new national culture that embraces the many facets of all its citizens, seems to be the developing model. Instead of assimilation, as is taking place with America and American immigration; the Canadians are equipped to learn from the past and embrace the many cultures present in its citizenship, with tolerance, acceptance and a division of power based on its cultural makeup (p. 459-6). Power does indeed rest with the majority, but the interests of all parties concerned belies a beneficent hierarchy.

Federalism seems to be the topic of the day in Canadian relations. Ceding power to the territories, recognizing their individual needs and individual cultural makeup makes governing the populace that much more equitable(McCormick & Ploeg, 2000).


The Canadian model of a dualist society is one that works in its simplicity. The dual language, dual culture and hierarchal power distribution seems to work well with the multicultural theme of the Canadian people. Though they may have had a rocky start with the British victory, the tolerance that existed from that time to now, has made Canada a model for an up and coming society, embracing the immigrant population and presenting the country in its best possible light, one of multicultural identity, multi-linguistic capability, and religious tolerance (Marger, 2009 p.461-2).


Annotated References

Dowler, K. (1998) A border within: National identity, cultural plurality and wilderness, a

Review of Ian Angus, Canadian Journal of Communication, 23 (3) Retrieved July 6, 2010 from http://www.cjc-online.ca/index

In this paper the argument is made that Canada lacks a sense national presence, and that its identity can only be determined by examining just what the nations lack, in the sense of unity. It details the movement to achieve an identity unsocial to that of its ever-present and powerful neighbor to the south, the United States.

Kim, A. E. (1993) The absence of Pan-Canadian civil religion" Plurality, duality, and

conflict in symbols of Canadian culture, Sociology of Religion, 54 (3), 257-275 Retrieved July 6, 2010 from http://socrel.oxfordjournals.org

This article details the need for a Canadian national identity, and insists that that self-same identity is a great part of cultural, and national pride. According to the writer without this cultural symbol of communal history, there will continue to be dualism and strife brought on by the separation of the nations plural identities.

Koenig, H. (2009) Research in Religion, spirituality and mental health: A review.

Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 54 (5), 283-91. Retrieved July 3, 2010 from Research Library (Document ID. 1845146711)

This article addresses the power and influence of religion on the actions of individuals extending to the motivations behind political actions. It addresses the power religion plays in cultural identity and how that identity is so entwined in religiosity that negative acts can be seen as positively motivated.

Kostov, C. (2008) Canada-Quebec immigration agreements (1971-1991) and their impact

on Federalism. The American Review of Canadian Studies, 38 (1), 91-103, 137. Retrieved July 3, 2010 from CBCA Complete (Document ID 1495708481)

This submission details the dualism between Quebec and Ontario and how the immigration process is used to stem the flow of non-acceptable individuals into a closed society. It explains how Quebec seeks to allow/admit only those persons/ nationalities that are free to embrace their cultural identity and succumb to their established dictates.

Marger, M. N. (2009) Race and ethnic relations; American and global perspectives. Wadsworth Cengage Learning, p. 431-463

Within this chapter the author details the current and past situation that exists in Canada as regards the Francophones, those that speak French, and the Anglophones, the English speaking Canadians. It references the plurality and the dualism apparent in even the smallest and the most important of issues; education, religion, politics and employment.

McCormick, P. and Ploeg, C. V. (2000) Beyond regionalism: The rest of the senate

reform story, Canada West Foundation. Retrieved July 6, 2010 from http://www.cwf.ca

This treatise details how controlling the senate and the commons aids in keeping the majority in power and the minority powerless. It details the most popular candidate is not always the winner in these elections, and that the existence of a parliamentary majority and the action of its prime ministers, deter the needs and desires of the electorate.

Tiwari, S. K. and Wang, J.L. (2006) The epidemiology of mental and substance

use-related disorders among White, Chinese and other Asian populations in Canada. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 51 (14), 904-12. Retrieved July 3, 2010 from Research Library (Document ID: 1193792591)

This article mentions the increased presence of Asians in Canada, and how their presence among the duality affects their sense of belonging and identity. There are those who come with an established sense of self, whereas the younger seeking a sense of national identity, find only duality and separation among those they live, work and learn with daily; enlisting a need to seek calm in substance abuse.

http://www.azleg.state.az.us/ars/20/00448.htm (unfair discrimination)