The Canadian Mosaic vs. The U.S. Melting Pot

Canada is internationally recognized as a culturally diverse nation that emphasizes the concept of The Mosaic. No other country in the world encompasses inhabitants from so many different backgrounds who exhibit strong loyalty towards Canada, while still preserving their cultural heritage. This is contrasted to the American ideal of the “Melting Pot”, which attempts to shape all of their citizens into a set mold. Canadas philosophy is believed to be more effective and respectful than that which is possessed by our American neighbours.

The following will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches, and analyze the impact of the structures on each countrys society. Canada is world renown for being one of the most tolerant, welcoming, and democratic countries in the world – a dynamic mosaic of multiculturalism where people live and work together in harmony. Over the past 150 years, more than 14 million people have immigrated to Canada, with 16% of the 30 million citizens being first-generation immigrants.

The Government of Canada is committed to a policy of diversity designed to preserve and enhance the multicultural heritage of Canadians, while striving to achieve equality in the economic, social, cultural and political aspects of Canada. In 1991, the Department of Multiculturalism and Citizenship conducted a survey, which revealed high levels of Canadian values and identity. Six out of ten interviewees portrayed a “deep emotional attachment to Canada” and 95% believe they can be proud of being a citizen and of their ancestry simultaneously.

As a nation, Canada is continually becoming more diverse in its practices, which requires residents to expand their knowledge and appreciate other cultures. Diversity can benefit a society in numerous ways, as is evidenced across Canada. The many cultures existing in Canada have created a rich cultural experience. By having a diverse population, one observes a plethora of food, clothing, music, entertainment, and traditions. One example where this is exhibited is Heritage Day, where citizens unite in celebrating and learning about various other cultures.

Existence in a non-diverse society would be dull in comparison and less adequate to fulfill creative desires. Diversity is also important to the success of an organization. The increasing globalization has resulted in individuals conducting projects or being employed in foreign locations. This requires people from different cultures to work towards a common goal, for which one needs to learn and accept the cultural distinctions. This in turn can increase the creativity and innovation within organizations.

As well, individuals from diverse backgrounds are able to provide companies with insight into foreign business practices, translation assistance, and offer detailed information to assist in market penetration. A diverse working team can also improve decision making by providing different perspectives on problems. Individuals embrace working alongside other cultures, as it is a personal learning process that will prove useful in the future. Educational institutions that promote multiculturalism are beneficial, in that they prepare students for the increasing diversity in the workplace.

An environment with diversity establishes values and builds character. It assists students in accepting and understanding the cultures to which their acquaintances belong to, as well as broadening their knowledge of the world. A society where contact between different cultural groups is encouraged often results in decreased prejudice, as is the case in Canada. This is achieved through the recognition of similarities among differing cultures and also providing information that disproves negative stereotypes.

By educating children to respect other cultures from a young age will proactively stop prejudice from forming. The mosaic system within Canada is not one of perfection, and does encompass its drawbacks. A significant predicament resulting from having too diverse an environment is the possibility of miscommunication. Words, expressions, and gestures possess dissimilar meanings among different cultures. There is potential for the intended meaning to be misconstrued by the other party, which will result in friction among the groups.

Another threat is the potential of cultural shocks, in which certain members of a diverse setting may not be able to adjust or understand the other cultures. In an organization where this is most likely to occur, dissatisfied employees may respond with high rates of absenteeism or turnover. Lower performance on the job may also result, which would have a significantly negative effect on the well being of the company. Diversity has been proven to foster the productivity of teams.

However, this diversity also increases the number of ideas raised, and can be more time consuming to reach a consensus regarding particular decisions or suggestions. Along with multiculturalism comes the differing sets of values, ethics, and morals. When these characteristics are mishandled, interpersonal conflicts may arise and stereotypes created. Institutions may face situations where members strongly oppose one another, which would affect the overall coherence of that society. Diversity builds strength, but it also can be challenging to manage given the hatred that sometimes results when interracial communities are mixed.

This was demonstrated in the past, when the Canadian government passed unfair laws and legislation that resulted in pitting different cultures against one another, thus fracturing the mosaic structure. Arising from the issue of multiculturalism within educational institutions is the cost of such implementations for diversifying the campus. The recruiting efforts would require significant financial resources and the research would require time to gather. There could also be implications concerning quotas or affirmation action for preferring a student of one race or another for the sake of diversity.

Some theorize that by endorsing the subject of multiculturalism too extensively would actually be a hindrance if it prevents an individual from expressing his or her own individuality. It is imperative that educators spend an equal amount of time developing each students individual characteristics as well teaching the values and traditions of the whole nation. Difficulties also arise within the public school system, where a vast number of cultural holidays exist. If one ethnic group is allowed to practice their customs on that day, then other groups demand similar treatment.

This often creates friction within the structure of the educational system. Multicultural policies within Canada have numerous benefits, but at the same time, challenge the Canadian identity by encouraging citizens to maintain their culture. A survey conducted in 1999 revealed that a citizen of Canada often identifies oneself as being German, Chinese, Polish, or so forth when asked his or her nationality. However, when this question is posed to a citizen from the United States, close to 95% replied American. Canadians do not view themselves as distinct Canadians.

There needs to be a common idea of what it is to be Canadian rather than constantly identifying with origin countries. This issue also ties in with the lack of patriotism that Canada is often accused of. The United States currently follows a policy that blends or melts many cultures together into one common unit, known as America. The creation of the U. S. was not to preserve old cultures but to forge a new American culture. Whether one is Caucasian, Black, Hispanic, or Asian, one must envision oneself as simply American, above all else.

As is true of Canada, this system possesses both advantages and disadvantages. It has been stated that a true identity is one in which every citizen can relate to, with similar values, customs, and traditions. This national identity has been created in the United States, as this country is primarily unilingual and unicultural. As a result, the U. S. is world renown for its extreme aura of patriotism, which is evident in all 50 states. Such loyalty and dedication to ones country is highly beneficial, especially when experiencing hardship.

This was evidenced during the aftermath of the Attack on America, which occurred on September 11, 2001. Led by President George W. Bush, citizens from across the nation united as one and vowed to seek justice for the inhumane acts committed on their fellow countrymen. Possessing a common trait, that of being American, binds individuals together and thus creates a great strength that is globally recognized. The main concern stemming from the melting pot ideal possessed by Americans is the loss of originality and individualism.

With the U. S. s principle to assimilate all citizens into one set form, cultures are no longer distinct. The charm of a particular culture disappears when one is bombarded with all things American, including values, traditions, and general way of life. For example, an individual that emigrates from China who settles in the U. S. soon loses his typical Chinese culture and is absorbed by American customs. After a period of time, his behavior and attitudes are almost American, although his values may remain Chinese for the time being.

Thus it is clear to see that diversity is not emphasized and cultivated in America, as is the case in Canada. The United States as a whole possesses many different ethnicities. However, by shaping all individuals into the American Ideal, this act robs citizens of the opportunity to learn what members from other cultures have to offer about their practices and beliefs. For example, when an American travels to a foreign destination, he or she will encounter great difficulty in accepting and understanding an uncommon way of life.

By sheltering its citizens from the diverse reality of the world, the U. S. prevents individuals from being tolerant, open-minded, and accommodating of cultures different from their own. In summary, multiculturalism promotes positive change for individuals of all cultures. It involves not only educating majority groups about minorities, but also vice versa. Diversity assists us as citizens, to appreciate individuals from all backgrounds, respect their ideas, and value their opinions. It educates us to accept the drawbacks of others and learn from their strengths. One can only gain by learning to live in a diverse community.

Canada creates a community in which individual and group differences bond to form a mosaic, not a melting pot that attempts to camouflage them in a heterogeneous mix. As the advantages of diversity far exceed its disadvantages, it is concluded that the diverse mosaic of this nation is a far more effective system in todays world of increasing globalization. Multiculturalism will unite all the varied cultures within Canada into one unit that will have no mainstream culture, but will consist of numerous diverse subcultures to enrich the lives of its citizens.

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