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Celebrating Canadian Multiculturalism Day

Photo: Government of Canada

Photo: Government of Canada

Canadian Multiculturalism Day is celebrated on June 27 of each year. According to the Government of Canada, Canadian Multiculturalism Day is an opportunity to celebrate the country’s diversity and its commitment to democracy, equality and mutual respect, and to appreciate the contributions of the various multicultural groups and communities to Canadian society.

Canadian Multiculturalism Day is part of Celebrate Canada, which is a four day celebration that began on June 21 with National Aboriginal Day, then June 24 being Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day, and lastly July 1 which is Canada Day.

Note: Canadian Multiculturalism Day is not recognized as a public (statutory) holiday in any of the Canadian jurisdictions.

Canada’s commitment to multiculturalism

The following are landmark events that showcase Canada’s commitment to multiculturalism:

1947: Passage of the first ever Canadian Citizenship Act

1960: Passage of the Canadian Bill of Rights

1963: Establishment of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism

1969: Book IV of the Bilingualism and Biculturalism Commission Report emphasizes the bilingual and multicultural nature of Canada. Also, introduction of the Official Languages Act.

1971: Canada was the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as an official policy (Multiculturalism Policy of Canada). The Policy also confirmed the rights of Aboriginal peoples and the status of Canada’s two official languages.

1977: Passage of the Canadian Human Rights Act

1982: Adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

1984: Special Parliamentary Committee Report, Equality Now, calls for a Multiculturalism Act and establishment of a national research institute on multiculturalism and race relations issues.

1986: Passage by Parliament of the Employment Equity Act

1988: Passage of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act

1996: Government establishes the Canadian Race Relations Foundation

1997: Renewed Multiculturalism Program announced

2002: Government of Canada, by Royal Proclamation, designated June 27 of each year as Canadian Multiculturalism Day.

2015-16: The Government of Canada resettled 25,000 Syrian refugees between November 2015 and February 29, 2016. Canada’s commitment to resettling Syrian refugees to Canada is continuing in 2016. #WelcomeRefugees

Diversity in the workplace

Canadian Multiculturalism Day gives employers the opportunity to reflect on how they can create an inclusive and supportive work environment. For instance, this can include modifying recruitment and hiring practices to reach a more diverse application pool. In order to do this, employers should consider reviewing their HR policies and practices to spot any barriers. This exercise will also give employers the opportunity to identify areas of improvement, and revise their policies and practices accordingly.

Once employers have successfully overcome those barriers and improved on the diversification of their workforce, employers should then support and engage with those employees. This would consist of implementing the right workplace culture. In order to effectively accomplish this, employers should educated themselves on the employees’ cultural backgrounds, as well as learn their interests outside of the workplace. What helps advance workplace inclusion is building relationships with employees through increased understanding, education, knowledge and trust.

Employers should also be mindful of culturally significant events and holy days, and provide employees the time off so they can participate in such events and observe such days. In order to do this, employers may want to consider offering a float day to employees for them to use at their will, for such events or days.

Interested in celebrating in your community?

To view events that are being held in your province or territory, visit the Government of Canada website here.

Cristina Lavecchia

Cristina is an editor and researcher at First Reference. She is a licensed paralegal and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree, Political Science major at York University. During Cristina's paralegal and undergraduate studies she studied employment standards, occupational health and safety, and workplace safety and insurance. Read more

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