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HAT Forum - Assimilation and Integration as Canadian Values

  • The 519 519 Church Street Toronto, ON, M4Y 2C9 Canada (map)

Proposer - Richard Dowsett

Until the 1960’s Canada’s immigration policy and policies towards our First Nations were determined by a philosophy of assimilation where both groups were expected to “fit in” to the dominant culture. In the 1960’s Canada began to examine this policy with the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism. In October 1971, Prime Minister P.E. Trudeau announced the government’s commitments to official bilingualism and multiculturalism. These were later enshrined in the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

1.     Even though assimilation has not been official government policy for 40+ years, there is still strong support for it in some quarters. Are there areas where assimilation is the best way?

2.     Integration is different to Assimilation in that it allows for some change to the original culture as it accommodates those being integrated. In what other ways is Integration different to Assimilation?

3.     Are Multiculturalism and the concept of the Cultural Mosaic compatible with Integration? How and how not?

4.     First Nations leaders have been calling for a restoration of native governance structures, leadership groups, teaching methods and values. How is this idea of a parallel system held back by our ideas of assimilation, integration and multiculturalism?

5.     Are there areas where Multiculturalism is the wrong approach and assimilation or integration would produce better outcomes for Canada? How have other countries got the mix of approaches better than us?