and National Identity
can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship"
- Ralph Nader
should be measures by the degree of
diversity attained and the degree of unity retained."
- W.H. Auden
you think of a Canadian, what do you imagine? What
does a Canadian look like? Where are Canadians born?
And what values, likes and behaviours would you describe
as being Canadian? Every country has a national
identity. This identity is an image
of how the majority of the people in a country seem
themselves. A national identity helps to promote a
sense of social cohesion by making the citizens feel
like they belong to the country and it represents
whom they are. But what happens when some people do
not feel like they are part of the national identity?
point of this section is to explore what groups may
f eel excluded from the Canadian national identity as
well as what strategies can be employed to help broaden
the idea of what and who can be Canadian. Although various
groups have been excluded from the Canadian identity,
this section focuses on those who have been left out
or ignored because of their ethnicity, colour, or religion.
However, many of the springboards can be used to explore
the issue of exclusion on other basis such as ability,
age and socio-economic standing.
in Canada: Who Can be a Canadian?
the key characteristics of Canada is the fact that
we are a multicultural country. This means that the
Canadian society consists of Aboriginal Peoples and
people from all over the world. Canada is often seen
as the model for cultural diversity and for good reason.
In 1971, Canada was the first country in the world
to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy. Today,
the Canadian government oversees the policy through
of Canadian Heritage As a recent Federal Government
with diversity distinguishes it from most other
countries. Our 30 million inhabitants reflect
a cultural, ethnic and linguistic makeup found
nowhere else on earth. Approximately 200,000
immigrants a year from all parts of the globe
continue to choose Canada, drawn by its quality
of life and its reputation as an open, peaceful
and caring society that welcomes newcomers and
multiculturalism only became an official policy a few decades
ago, "diversity has been a fundamental characteristic
of Canada since its beginnings. At the time of European
settlement there were more than 56 Aboriginal nations speaking
more than 30 languages" (Ibid).
Today Canadians come
from all over the world. People who are born in Canada are
automatically Canadian citizens. However, thousands of people
born elsewhere also immigrate or move to Canada and become
citizens by successfully completing the citizenship test.
verb (-ding) 1 shut out, leave out. 2 make impossible, preclude.
speak of a Canada where men and women of Aboriginal ancestry,
of French and British heritage, of the diverse cultures
of the world
demonstrate the will to share this land in peace, in justice,
with mutual respect."
Pierre Elliott Trudeau,
Former Prime Minister
of Canada, 1982
may be difficult to believe that in a country as multicultural
as Canada certain groups may feel excluded. As the above
quote by the late Pierre Trudeau notes, Canadian multiculturalism
and democracy go hand in hand. Both concepts advocate each
individual's right to be part of the greater society. When
this right is denied, an act of exclusion occurs. The concept
of exclusion is important to discuss because it stands in
opposition to democracy and multiculturalism and undermines
the ideals of both. This; however, has been and continues
to be the case. The springboards can provide you with both
information and ideas about exclusion.