Canada Day – A Significant Landmark  In The History of Canadian Independence

Canada Day – A Significant Landmark  In The History of Canadian Independence

V.Thangavelu

Canada Day is the birth day of Canada. It  is a significant landmark of the history of Canadian independence. This year it will be the 143rd anniversary celebration.

Canada Day (French: Fête du Canada), formerly Dominion Day (French: Le Jour de la Confederation), is Canada‘s national day, a federal statutory holiday celebrating the anniversary of the July 1, 1867.

Canada Day observances take place throughout Canada as well as internationally.  In Ottawa, Parliament Hill  an estimated crowd of 75.000 will gather to listen to the address by  Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada. The celebrations in Ottawa are particularly lavish. Hundreds of thousands gather on Parliament Hill to celebrate Canada’s birth. Canadian flags abound, and some go as far as to paint their faces in Canadian colours.   Many of open-air civic events, barbecues, pageants, carnivals, festivals, air force and navy shows, pyrotechnics, free musical performances, and also citizenship ceremonies are celebrated on Canada Day.

Canada Day at Queen’s Park has been an annual tradition since 1967. Every year, on July 1, the Province of Ontario celebrates Canada’s birthday with fun and free activities for families. These celebrations take place  at Queen’s Park in Toronto.  Live entertainment, inflatable games, carnival games, face-painting, crafts, strolling performers, skills challenges in hockey, basketball and golf, rock climbing, rides on firetruck and train and more!

Frequently referred to as “Canada’s birthday”, particularly in the popular press, the occasion marks the joining of the British North American colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the Province of Canada into a federation of four provinces (the Province of Canada being divided, in the process, into Ontario and Quebec) on July 1, 1867. Although Canada is regarded as having become a kingdom in its own right on that date, the British Parliament kept limited rights of political control over the new country that were shed by stages over the years until the last vestiges were surrendered in 1982 when the Constitution Act patriated the Canadian constitution.

On June 20, 1868, Governor General the Viscount Monck issued a royal proclamation asking  Canadians to “celebrate the anniversary of the Province of Canada into a federation of four provinces (the Province of Canada being divided, in the process, into Ontario and Quebec) on July 1, 1867. However, the holiday was not established statutorily until 1879, when it was designated as Dominion Day, in reference to the designation of the country as a Dominion in the British North America Act. The holiday was initially not dominant in the national calendar; up to the early 20th century, Canadians thought themselves to be primarily British, being thus less interested in celebrating distinctly Canadian forms of patriotism. No official celebrations were therefore held until 1917 — the golden anniversary of Confederation — and then none again for a further decade. The name was changed ‘Canada Day’ that the bill was passed by only twelve Members of Parliament at House of Commons. On October 27, 1982, the Royal Assent granted officially altered the name into ‘Canada Day’.

The Canada Day has its critics also. David Warren, a journalist, told in 2007, “The Canada of the government-funded paper flag-waving and painted faces – the ‘new’ Canada that is celebrated each year on what is now called ‘Canada Day’ – has nothing controversially Canadian about it. You could wave a different flag, and choose face paint, and nothing would be lost.”

As we all know Canada is a multi-ethnic, multi -limqual  country.  multi-cultural  country.  “Cultural mosaic” (French: “la mosaïque culturelle canadienne”) is a term used to describe the mix of ethnic groups, languages and cultures that co-exist within Canadian society. The idea of a cultural mosaic is intended to champion an ideal of multiculturalism, differently from other systems like the melting pot, which is often used to describe  United States‘ ideal of assimilation.

The first use of the term mosaic to refer to Canadian society was by John Murray Gibbon, in his 1938 book Canadian Mosaic. Gibbon clearly disapproved of the American melting-pot concept. He saw the melting pot as a process by which immigrants and their descendants were encouraged to cut off ties with their countries and cultures of origin so as to assimilate into the American way of life.

An ethno- cultural profile of Canada prepared by Statistics Canada describes a nation that, at the outset of the 21st Century, has become progressively more and more multi-ethnic and multicultural. The Introduction to the report stated that:

Immigration to Canada over the past 100 years has shaped Canada, with each new wave of immigrants adding to the nation’s ethnic and cultural composition. Half a century ago, most immigrants came from Europe. Now most newcomers are from Asia. As a result, the number of visible minorities in Canada is growing. And, Canadians listed more than 200 ethnic groups in answering the 2001 Census question on ethnic ancestry, reflecting a varied, rich cultural mosaic as the nation started the new millennium.

In 1965, John Porter published his influential sociological study, Vertical Mosaic: An Analysis of Social Class and Power in Canada. Porter’s book showed that some groups (e.g., those of British origin) were better off with respect to measures of income, education and health than others. For example, groups of eastern and southern European origin tended to fare less well by these measures. The worst off were the First Nations and Inuit. Porter saw this vertical arrangement as being related to power and influence in decision-making. Thus those of British origin tended to be overrepresented among the elites in government, economic and political spheres.

Porter’s findings have been tested in several studies since 1965 and have been modified slightly. For example, the economic disparity between ethnic groups has narrowed somewhat and Francophones are better represented in politics and government. However, the socio-economic elites in Canada remain dominated by people of British origin.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, Canada has been one of the world’s major immigrant-receiving  countries. . Until the 1960s immigrants were expected to assimilate into the mainstream society. Arriving as it did at during a time of social upheaval, Porter’s work had a marked influence on Canadian social policy. The view of Canada as a mosaic of cultures became the basis for the Trudeau government’s multiculturalism policies in the early 1970s.

The Canadian government established the Official Multiculturalism Act in 1971 and appointed a minister responsible for multiculturalism in 1972. In 1973 a Canadian Multiculturalism Council was established, along with a Multiculturalism Branch within the Department of the Secretary of State.

The “cultural mosaic” theory is not without critics. Some  journalists like  the Globe and Mail‘s Jeffrey Simpson, and Carleton University journalism professor, Andrew Cohen have argued that the entire Melting Pot / Mosaic dynamic is largely an imagined concept, and that there remains little measurable evidence that American or Canadian immigrants as collective groups can be proven to be more or less “assimilated” or “multicultural” than each other. Many conservative activists in Canada have likewise remained critical of multiculturalism as an “official” government policy. Some say that the mosaic concept encourages immigrant communities to remain concentrated and segregated in certain areas, or that it implies that they should never be considered Canadians. In April 2005 Michaëlle Jean (later named the Governor General) openly criticized the concept herself, accusing it of leading to the “ghettoizing” of Canadians.

Canada may not be the ideal country for immigrants, especially those refugees from third world countries fleeing  persecution based on religion and ethnicity, but inclement temperatures have not stopped  them arriving at the borders in large numbers year after year.  Another factor that makes Canada an attractive home for immigrants is its religious tolerance. According to a recent study conducted by the Pew Center for Religion and Public Life, Canada ranks among the most tolerant on a global scale.

In recent months, several European governments, including Spain, Ireland, Denmark and the Czech Republic, have paid immigrants enticing sums of money to go back to where they came from, but not Canada.  The government has said it will continue to welcome a quarter-million new immigrants a year, but will conversely tighten the refugee determination system that is seen by many as too liberal.American concerns over Canada. .

Tamil Canadians should make use  of Canada’s enlightened  and progressive policy of multi-culturism to preserve their language, culture and their way of life  without dissolving inside the melting pot.


 

 

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