Possibilities and Limitations

Multicultural Policies and Programs in Canada

Edited by Carl James  

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In this work, contributors from a variety of academic disciplines write about the extent to which multicultural policies and programs facilitate cultural freedom and equality of opportunities for ethnic and racial minority group Canadians. Areas explored are: (a) the federal multicultural policy and its articulated discourse, intentions and outcomes in today’s Canada; (b) how ethnic, racial and religious minorities and immigrants have fared in a society with official multiculturalism; (c) the limits and possibilities of multicultural education; and (d) the capacity of employment equity to address discriminatory employment practices in today’s cultural context. Contributors demonstrate that instead of opening opportunities for full and effective participation in Canadian society, the current discourse of multiculturalism often operates to homogenize, essentialize, racialize and marginalize ethnic and racial minority group Canadians, and in the process negates individual and intra-cultural group differences as well as cultural variations and complexities of groups. In light of this situation, we observe that there is a need for a paradigm shift that would facilitate the development of policies, programs, curricula, practices, strategies and pedagogies that would bring about equitable conditions for minority group Canadians and immigrants.

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  • Introduction: Perspectives on Multiculturalism in Canada (Carl James)
  • Canadian Multiculturalism (Clifford Jansen)
  • Aboriginal People and Stories of Canadian History: Investigating Barriers to Transforming Relationships (Susan Dion)
  • Immigrants’ Integration in Canada (Patience Elabor-Idemudia)
  • Citizens of the State but not Members of the Nation: The Politics of Language and Culture in the Construction of Minorities in Quebec (Susan Judith Ship)
  • Multicultural Education in Canada (Carl James and Maxine Wood)
  • A Sociocultural & Critical Analysis of Educational Policies & Programs for Minority Youth in British Columbia (June Beynon, Linda Larocque, Roumiana Ilieva and Diane Dagenais)
  • Accommodating Religious Difference (Lois Sweet)
  • Employment Equity in Canada: The Paradox of Tolerance and Denial (Audrey Kobayashi)
  • The Letter: Racism, Hate and Monoculturalism in a Canadian Hinterland (Luis LM Aguiar, Patricia Tomic and Ricardo Trumper)
  • Conclusion: Multiculturalism: A Discourse of Contradictions (Roger Saul)
  • Bibliography


  • Carl James

    York University

    Dr. Carl James is Professor in the Faculty of Education, cross-appointed in the graduate programs in Sociology and Social Work. Over the years, he has conducted research which has resulted in publications that focus on the experiences of marginalized youth, particularly African Canadians. His history of innovative professional development with educators and social service workers draws on his theoretical work with issues of identity, diversity, racialization and masculinity, and involves practitioner level dissemination of research results. His attention to the educational performance and outcomes of students in higher education is evident in his mentorship, as well as his involvement in program and curriculum change.

    Dr. James’s background in sociology of education and youth studies help to frame his exploration of issues of: identity/identification in relation to race, ethnicity, class, gender and immigrant status; educational and occupational access and equity for marginalized youth; and the complementary and contradictory nature of sports in the schooling and educational attainments of racialized students. His extensive background in youth work and community development informs his recent work on educational programs that are responsive to the particular needs, experiences, interests and aspirations of African Canadian youth living in urban contexts. He has extensive experience with critical ethnography, phenomenology, action research and government and institutional policy analysis.

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