The Canadian “cultural mosaic” and the American “melting pot”: reality or fiction?

The Canadian “cultural mosaic” and the American “melting pot”: reality or fiction?
One of the main differences between Canada and the United States, especially culturally speaking, is the policy toward minorities at home. Indeed, the U.S. claims “melting pot” policy whereas the other one speaks

about “cultural mosaic”.

At first, it is important to explain these both metaphores. The expression “cultural mosaic” appeared for the first time in 1922 when Victoria Haward described the Canadian West with its peculiar architecture and its polyglot population as a “mosaic of vast dimensions and great breath”(1). It is often related to the term multiculturalism which is used to refer to a multitude of different cultures in a society or some areas in a city where people of different cultures coexist(2). In other words, it implies that immigrants, and others, should preserve their cultures and the different cultures should “interact peacefully within one nation” (3). This idea is sometimes used in contrast to the “melting pot” one. The metaphore comes from Israel Zanngwill’s play The Melting Pot in 1908. It showed the American assimilation experience of immigrants in the U.S: “the Great Alchemist melts and fuses …all nations and races”(4). The “melting pot” expression means the ingredients in the pot which represent people of different backgrounds, religions and ethnicity,etc are “processed” until they lose their formal/ previous? identities what give a final uniform “product”(5). In this way, immigrants coming to America are supposed to abandon their historic identities and adopt the American way. It’s a kind of amalgation.

The two ideas are pretty opposite. Historical ethnic experiences quite different can explained these different policies especially with black experience in the U.S. and important french population in Canada. Nevertheless, theses differences are true in some?a certain extent. The Canadian alternative is often seen as a positive one where different ethnicities live together peacefully and free. But is this optimistic way of thinking real? De meme and?is the idea that all the immigrants in America abandon their previous culture to become American and practice the same culture concret? Do the Canadian “cultural mosaic”and the American “melting pot” really exist?

It’s interesting to have a look at first at the difference between the U.S and Canada with regard to their approaches to cultural diversity and after to show that the fundamental ideas of “cultural mosaic”and “melting pot” which differ between both of them are not always a reality.( 450mo env)

1. cultural mosaic and melting pot

Even if both countries are nations of immigrants at the beginning, they have not the same policy toward them and not the same experiences as well. Indeed, At first, America believed in the building of a nation of individual right and favoured the unity of the nation more than the diversity because of its independence and revolutionnary origin whereas Canada legitimated the hierarchy based on ethnicity especially with the persistence of French culture and language(6).

The presence of French-Canadians played a founding role for the diversity of ethnicity. Indeed a single culture in Canada was seen impossible by them(7). Their discontent due to English-speaking Canadian economic and cultural domination was growing in the 1950s and led to the “Quiet Revolution”. That means that French-Canadians acquired the acknowledgement of their culture . French language was legally recognized as well. In this way, the government passed the Multicultural Act of 1971. It officially recognized the “multiculturalism within a bilingual framework” that means the country committed to help all ethnic groups to maintain their identity(8). The multicultural heritage of Canadians was emphasized in 1982 by a section in the Canadian constitution. Concretly by the 1980s grants were given to minorities for cultural projects like cultural festivals, aid to day care centres or preparation of histories of major Canadian ethnic groups. Some schools have provided for the teaching of languages spoken by ethnic groups(9). As far as concerned ethnoreligious communities’ organisation, they are more important in Canada than in the U.S: for instance, for the Jew, it exists a national association, the Canadian Jewish Congress which represents all organized Jewry in Canada whereas there is no such comparable group in the U.S.(10). Even aboriginal peoples who had never had recognition in Canada were given more rights in relation to land they had occupied before: in 1989, Canada splited its vast Northern Territories in half and gave to the Inuits political control over the eastern Artic(11). Furthermore the Charlottetown Accord in 1992 proposed a constitutional amendment that recognized the “self-government” of Aboriginal(12). Indeed, Canada favoured more a self-goverment whereas the U.S. are more supported for”self-determination” or individualism. All these examples show the cultural mosaic policy of Canada. It’s clear that Canada have more a multicultural policy than the U.S.

But why some minorities like French people managed to have more acknowledgement and rights toward their identities whereas minorities in America were pressed to be melted with the Americans? Indeed, even though some ethnic group especially the Blacks tried to gain more recognition, the U.S. never gave the right to enjoy fully their culture. One of the reasons that African American were not successful in their struggles for identity is that unlike Canada, where, for instance, French or Native peoples were concentrated in the provinces and so could enjoy the federal system, racial minorities were geographically dispersed in the America. “Race, as a complicated factor in American life, cannot be contained, as it cannot be compartized”(13). So it’s more difficult for them to have a political strengh. Furthermore, according to Richard Iton, “in the United States… cultural plurality is seen as a threat to the nation’s security”(’14). Even some parties like Clinton party used this aspect in their program for election: in 1996 he changed his program in assuring that he wanted to lead his party “away from any strong attachements to the interests and concerns of blacks”(15) to reassure white swing voters. Black is seen, according to Ralph Ellison as “an invisible man present, affecting the life of his society, yet largely unseen by those who defined its nature”(16). So the U.S. has not wanted to distinguish immigrants but to assimilate them unlike Canada as far as integration policy is concerned: in 1917 the government passed the Immigration Act that allowed only people who could speak English, Hebrew or Yiddish to enter the U.S(17…chcher un truc sur internet). de meme Indians received under more legal garantees for their rights compared to Canada(18) and no government has ever adopted policy of bilingualism (except the commonwealth of Puerto Rico) even though up to one third of population in some states are spanish-speaking(19). Obviously the U.S. wants to keep its assimilation policy. Indeed Americans have generally welcome migrants from around the word to join their melting pot as well as the struggle for success.

But the American Dream for migrants to have “a two-or three-car garage with a house attached located in a leafy suburb, now more likely a gated community with homogeneous populations”(20) is a view quite optimistic of American migrants. It does not represent the true life of immigrants leaving together equally without segregation as Canadian good image of immigrants’ welcome and diversity is really contredisable.(825)

2.the false image

Integration of immigrants cannot be so strict that is to say assimilation policy in America and multicultutralism one North of the border. Indeed the government cannot control completely this kind of natural process: when immigrants arrive in a new country they are assimilated into the dominant society economically and culturally even if certain ethno-cultural identifications and practices persist(21).

Indeed assimilation exist not only in the U.S.: in Canada immigrants have also faced the necessity of coming to terms with Canadian customs (22). Norman Buchignani, an anthropologist, has shown that, actually, “only a small proportion of homeland cultural practices survive the settlement process”(23) especially because of the Canadianization of children through the schools, television, and contact with Canadian friends. Another reason is that immigrants have been subject to powerful social forces to be conform to the dominant anglophone culture(24). So cultural mosaic is quite compromized in some extents. De meme, in the U.S, melting pot policy is confronted to the natural process that immigrants want or need to meet together according to their similarities: “more often than not, the neighborhoods where Americans live, the politicians and propositions they vote for, the cultures they immerse themselves in, the friends and spouses they have, the churches ans schools they attend, and the way they view themselves are defined by ethnicity”(25). For instance, at the law school of the University of California at Los Angeles, which has about 1,000 students, there are separate student associations for blacks, Latinos and Asians with their own law review journals(26) .

Furthermore, policy toward immigration in both countries is quite different from public opinion. Indeed, more people in America(47%) than in Canada(34%) think it would be better for newcomers to preserve their culture than to assimilate(27). Canadians fear that the new immigrants with different languages and customs would create a polyglot nation lacking cohesion and unity(27bis). J.S.Woodsworth, a social reformer even said in 1909 that “if Canada is to become in a real sense , if our people are to become one people, we must have one language”(27ter). Discrimination is also used against many immigrants in Canada that is pretty opposite to diversity and free culture of immigrants image. In the late 1970s, Sikhs were attacked and had their turbans forcebly removed. Blacks were often harrassed or assaulted physically. In Montreal, taxi companies threatened to fire their Haitian drivers. According to various studies, Canadians dislike also immigrants speaking their home languages in public, or wearing traditional dress(27quatrre).

In the U.S. racist attitudes are also used. The official policy of melting pot which implies egal treatment of all immigrants is quite compromised by segregation. At first residential segregation, forced or chosen, was seen but also job segregation. For instance, in California Mexicans immigrants are employed overwehlmingly as gardeners and domestics, Koreans open small business and Filipinos become nurses and medical technicians(28). Hispanic in L.A. are even more segregated residentially in 1990 than they were 10 or 20 years ago(29). Furthermore, even though Americans had conscious since the 1960s of the Black segregation with the Black civil rights they have made no efforts to integrate them.

Even racist attitude were taken from both governments until the WW2: quotas against some countries were instaured/established? especially against Asian people in the late 19th century. In this context the melting pot was no more possible because the preference system of immigration is unequal. The same system was used by Canadian government. Canada largely sought immigrants from English- and French-speaking areas(30). This kind of policy did not led to ethnic diversity so not to cultural mosaic as well.

All these previous examples show that even though officially Canada and the United States want to have a good image toward welcome of immigrants and pretend to offer liberty and opportunities, it turns out to be not exactly true.(650 mot)

Cultural mosaic and melting pot terms which differ fundamentally each other and so separate the United States and Canada as far as social and immigration policies are concerned are only metaphores. The realities make that actually Canada and the U.S. are “more similar than the images suggest”(31). Indeed even if both countries choose an optimistic symbol, the “promised land” mythology for America and the peaceable Kingdom” for Canada, the reality is sometimes far from the image like racism which exist in both countries.

However, it ‘s clear that government’s policy toward integration of immigrants differs greatly in Canada and in the U.S. This difference come from different origins and different national experience. Nevertheless, now it’s quite controversial for Canada to have a multicultural policy toward immigration but to fear a lot to lost its national identity as it is for the U.S to keep a nationalist policy when the U.S. have an multinational population and represents the international country for all the world.