The Government of Canada, by Royal Proclamation, on November 13, 2002, designated June 27 of each year as Canadian Multiculturalism Day.
Canadian Multiculturalism Day is an opportunity for all Canadians to celebrate diversity and Canada’s commitment to democracy, equality and mutual respect and to appreciate the contributions of the various multicultural groups and communities to Canadian society.
“Diversity is a source of strength and flexibility and plays a pivotal role in ensuring that the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) remain a strong, innovation and forward-looking organization. We strive to be reflective of Canada’s cultural, ethnic and linguistic makeup, as well as its regional diversity. To achieve that objective, the CAF is committed to increasing diversity and promoting inclusiveness amongst its personnel,” said Lieutenant General Christine Whitecross, Chief of Military Personnel.
Canada’s model of multiculturalism is based on a broad legislative framework that celebrates diversity and encourages newcomers to integrate while ensuring that the broader society is welcoming.
Since not everyone self-identifies as a visible minority or an Aboriginal person, enrolment numbers in the CAF for these groups are potentially higher than they appear. Self-identification by the Employment Equity Act is voluntary, and a low self-identification census form completion rate prevents the CAF from being able to report its true employment equity representation.
In a statement Jessica Lamirande, communications officer, Personnel and Legal Services Public Affairs, Department of National Defence indicated as of May 2015, there are known to be at least 2,306 Aboriginal peoples amongst the CAF’s Regular and Primary Reserve population, which equates to 2.5 per cent of the total personnel. As of May 2015, there are known to be at least 5680 visible minorities amongst the CAF’s Regular and Primary Reserve Force population, which equates to 6.2 per cent of the total personnel.
“The Canadian Armed Forces embraces diversity through its inclusive personnel policies, ongoing education and awareness initiatives, training, career fairs and coordinated commemorative events at locations across Canada,” said Lieutenant Colonel Natacha Van Themsche, Director of Human Rights and Diversity.
According to the Government of Canada website in 1971, Canada became the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy to underline the value of pluralism, including the rights of Aboriginal peoples and Canada’s two official languages. The policy became law in 1988 as the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, which recognizes diversity and promotes understanding, equality of opportunity and the elimination of barriers.
In 2011, the National Household Survey (NHS) found that Canada is home to people from over 200 ethnic origins.
More than 200 languages were reported in the 2011 NHS as a home language or mother tongue. One-fifth of Canada’s population, or nearly 6,630,000 people, spoke a language other than English or French at home in 2011, either as a single language or in some combination with English or French.
Canada is characterized by a multicultural society whose make-up has been shaped over time by immigrants and their descendants. While most immigrants historically came from Europe, the largest group of recent newcomers to Canada has come from Asia (including the Middle East).
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