GATINEAU, June 27, 2021
Today we mark Canadian Multiculturalism Day, a time to celebrate diversity and the contributions of Canada’s many cultural communities.
Fifty years ago, on October 8, 1971, multiculturalism became an official policy of the Government of Canada. It was enshrined into law in 1988 as the Canadian Multiculturalism Act, making Canada the first country in the world to pass such a law.
While this policy was a step in the right direction, we must be mindful of the systemic racism that is part of our past and present. Recently, the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School and the remains of hundreds of Indigenous children were found near the former Marieval (Cowessess) Residential School in Saskatchewan.
We also saw the horrific hate-motivated terrorist attack on a Muslim family in London, Ontario, that left four dead, and a young boy seriously injured and orphaned.
These tragedies remind us that Indigenous people, racialized communities, and religious minorities still face racism and discrimination. Combatting hate in all its forms requires us to confront these hard truths, while also addressing the inequities that still exist within our institutions. Our government knows that this serious issue demands our attention and care—and that a multicultural society is a work in progress.
During the pandemic, the values at the heart of our multicultural society have been our source of strength. Community groups across the country are making a difference by working together to lend a hand to those in need.
These principles of compassion, generosity, and cooperation must not be forgotten after the pandemic. They can help us achieve true and lasting equity, which is something that benefits us all.
Today, I encourage you to participate in activities and events, and learn more about your neighbours, colleagues, and friends. Let’s continue building an equitable and consciously more inclusive Canada.
Keep well and safe. Happy Multiculturalism Day.