By Marina Jimenez, Globe and Mail (Toronto)
It is here, on the border of Brampton and Mississauga (Ontario), that it is most striking: Canada’s famed multicultural mosaic has morphed into a series of…. MONOcultural neighbourhoods.
If it weren’t for the snow and salt in the parking lot, Plaza McLaughlin Village outside Toronto could as easily be in New Delhi. There is goat and lamb for sale at the Doaba meat shop. The latest Bollywood hit, Guru, is at West End Video. You can do your taxes, go to the doctor and book a flight in Punjabi. And the clock in the photocopy shop shows the time in New Delhi. The only Caucasian faces are the officers at Brampton’s community policing station.
The number of ethnic enclaves like this one has exploded in Canada. In 1981, there were only six in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. By 2001, there were 254, according to a study by Statistics Canada, which defines ethnic enclaves as communities with 30 per cent of the population from one visible minority group.
“In Canada, we may live in a multicultural society, but the evidence suggests that fewer and fewer of us are living in multicultural neighbourhoods,” says Allan Gregg, who has written about geographic concentrations of immigrants and is chairman of the Strategic Counsel, a polling and market-research firm. “We spend so much time congratulating ourselves on tolerance and diversity that we have allowed it to slide into self-segregated communities, isolated along ethnic lines.”
The change over the past 15 years has been dramatic, with the three largest visible minority groups—Chinese, South Asians and blacks—experiencing a marked increase in their residential concentration, according to Statscan.
Mostly, it’s too early to tell. But one thing is already clear: Multiculturalism isn’t working that well for visible-minority newcomers.
Some researchers are beginning to question whether the nation’s famed multiculturalism policy—first articulated in 1971 by prime minister Pierre Trudeau and still considered a model in Europe—may in fact be exacerbating differences.
Canada has the highest per capita immigration in the world—three times higher than the United States—and its geographic self-segregation of immigrants and their offspring could become an explosive issue. So far, the country has avoided the social upheaval under way in Europe, where riots struck the mainly Arab and African Paris suburbs two years ago.
By the 1990s, almost all of Canada’s immigrants came from Asia and China. In 2001, visible minorities made up 13.4 per cent of the population and nearly half of big cities such as Toronto.
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