In simple terms, multiculturalism is the recognition of various ethnic customs and cultures at any organizational rank, for instance in a learning institution, community, or a company. This concept is also practical to the population composition of a nation, where people from diverse religious traditions, counties and backgrounds are given fair status in neighborhoods, schools, towns and cities as well as on the national level. The rise of multiculturalism in Canada emerged around 1960s and 1970s, when the nation experienced enormous immigration and started developing the present extensive Canadian culture. People in a society may have different cultures but their smooth co-existence ensures a positive growth of the community in terms of economy, social cohesion and overall society’s well-being.
Canada has been on the fore front of instigating multiculturalism in the country due to its public stress towards the social significance of immigration. The prime minister in power during early 1970s was responsible for ensuring that the Canadian government adopted the policies of multiculturalism. This move by the government attracted many people globally and it affected the decision of many immigrants to choose Canada as their point of destination. In the majority of cases, immigrants were driven to Canada due to poor economy in home countries and also civil wars which had rocked the world in 1970s, especially in the Asian region. The Pakistan refugees to Canada settled in the country starting from January 1972 after fleeing Pakistan the previous year in December.
Many Pakistani nationals had migrated to Canada in the mid 1950s to 1960s and most of them settled in Ontario and suburbs surrounding Toronto. Therefore, when the Pakistani refugees were cleared and given passes to live in the country, they settled in the East York suburb in the city of Toronto, since in that region they would somehow feel at home as there were many Asians in the area.
Pakistan has suffered numerous wars and civil wars mostly between its neighbors India and Bangladesh. For instance, there where violent outbreaks in 1947–48, 1965, and the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971, which saw the seceding of East Pakistan and it became an independent state called Bangladesh. All these wars cost the country a lot in terms the loss of residents, where for instance the 1971 war caused death to about 2,000,000 to 3,000,000 civilians. Also close to ten million civilians fled the country as refugees. Moreover, the economy of the country was in tatters due to the high costs of the war and also the loss of industries and man-power. Therefore, the major reason which made the Pakistani immigrants leave their country was due to the civil war which had rocked the nation in 1971.
The Pakistani community in Canada has managed to integrate fully into the host society due to the help awarded to new immigrants inhabiting the country and also the policies formulated by the Canadian government towards multiculturalism. Moreover, Pakistani immigrants assimilated into the Canadian culture very easily, since they have less language barriers, as English was widely practiced in Pakistan. These immigrants contributed a lot to the Canadian society and even up-to-date they continue to be an important pillar in the country’s growth both economically and culturally.
The first census to be done in Canada revealed that there were only thirteen muslims in the country. However, their population escalated during the 1970s when many Pakistani immigrants traveled to Canada. These immigrants had major influence on the pre-existing cultures in Canada by bringing in new cultures which were basically of Islam nature. They believe in the Quran teachings and their traditions appealed to many Canadians. This influenced a few citizens of Canada to join the Islamic religion. Moreover, the Pakistani immigrants played a key role in diversifying religion in Canada by bringing in Islam. Additionally, Islam started to be taught in major learning institutions all over the country and this initiative enabled the rest of nations in Canada to really know and appreciate the Pakistani culture.
Several associations sprung up with the aim of educating the nation on the ideas and teachings of Islam, and by doing so the Canadian society has developed to accept and embrace the Islamic religion. In addition, groups like the Canadian Islamic Congress, and the Muslim Canadian Congress have been on the forefront in promoting nation building in terms of religion and also providing representation to be bigger Islamic community in the country.
The incorporation of Pakistan’s culture into the Canadian society has been slowly taking shape and this has been so since the Pakistanis adapt easily. Furthermore, they are familiar with bicultural lifestyle. They have transferred the hierarchical resolution making guides and old values, language, decorations, food, and more so traditional clothing into the Canadian society. In places of work, they have also integrated their customs and there has been established quite a range of social and cultural service organizations to handle the complexities arising in the multicultural community.
In Pakistan many women do not work or rather the majority of their work is home-based. Therefore, once the Pakistani immigrants settled in Canada, they had to adopt the cultures of the country, which basically advocates work for all. Women since then have been participating in building of the country’s economy and more importantly they contributed to raising their household’s living standards. This situation posed several challenges in the families but it offered a chance for women to contribute further and become full members of the Canadian society. As a result, the Canadian society has been growing in terms of culture and through the interaction of many different customs the stability has been achieved.
Pakistan from time immemorial has been known to be home for the most delicious and spicy food types in the world. The Canada food tradition has been changed by the introduction of halal versions of Pakistani dishes into the market. For instance, the Pakistani cuisine has been famous in the country and the majority of the population has at least once consumed it. Many Pakistani restaurants and hotels have been established in the market since 1970s. These places culturally prepared Pakistan dishes and through this initiative they have been famous all over the country.
The Pakistani clothing has been cultural from time immemorial and majority of their clothing contains extensive patterns of embroidery in multiple colors. Once the Pakistani immigrants settled in Canada, they brought with them the Pakistani clothing designs. Morever, since some of them were designers back home, they immediately got into business of making of making salwar kameez, zardozi, churidars, dupattas, Jinnah caps, sherwani, and not forgetting khussa, and Peshawari Chappals. All these new fashion designs flooded the Canadian clothing market and greatly influenced the way the inhabitants perceived their outfits. The multicolored embroidery was taken up by the local designers and incorporated it in their fashions which largely helped in growing the Pakistani clothing culture in Canada.
The Pakistani immigrants settled in Canada on January 1972 and by then the government of Canada had taken a bold step towards the adoption of multiculturalism policy. The policy basically affirmed that every Canadian national had his/her dignity and value despite their spiritual affiliations, language, ethnic or racial origin. Therefore, the declaration of multiculturalism in 1971 opened new avenues for immigrants to get a chance to be recognized and respected, in spite of their cultural or rather ethical backgrounds.
The immigration policy also highlighted that every citizen regardless of his/her origin could maintain their respective identities, to wholly assume pride towards their ancestry. In doing this, Canadian government would help them to have a feeling of belonging. Therefore, the Pakistani immigrants found an ample environment and country, which highly helped them in adjusting and acquiring ethnic and racial harmony. Moreover, the country had formulated amicable refugee policies in the 1960s which basically advocated for the acceptance of refugees and made commitments towards fulfilling the legal obligations of helping refugees.
The Pakistani people have been having some appealing traditions, which they have been practicing for centuries. The majority of these customs define the religion and the way of life of the Pakistani society. When they settled in Canada in 1972, they carried with them all their traditions they have been practicing ever since. For instance, Pakistanis have two most important food customs, which have to be followed unanimously and one of them states that fasting has to be observed during the Ramadan month as well as their tradition forbids the consumption of pork. These customs were integrated into the Canadian society and helped enlightening and opening the society to new cultures.
Performing arts have been for a long time now a major pride of the Pakistani community and the Pakistani immigrants took the initiative of introducing this form of art into the Canadian society. Dance and music performance arts highly carry an ethical picture, as they truly reveal how cultures are in terms of arts. The dances and music were done in folk and classical forms and traditional costumes were common in the performance. The immigrants had a great knowledge of performing arts, and therefore some of them even started hosting performances in theatres and other musical platforms. By doing so, the amazing culture of the Pakistani people was spread all over the country. All the dancing varieties ranging from khattak, jhoomer, juddi, and bhangra were incorporated into the Canadian performing arts and into the whole society in general.
In the 1960s and 1970s many Pakistanis immigrated to Canada in search for asylum from war activities. Canada hosted many Pakistani refugees due to the civil war, which their native country was going through. In 1962 the Canada implemented new policies, which fought against racism of any nature towards the immigrants. This move combined with the policy of multiculturalism, which was put in place in 1971, saw a massive inflow of Pakistani immigrants into the country. On the other hand, the Pakistanis brought with them their culture that helped in diversifying the Canadian society in terms of culture and the general perception of the people to the Pakistani culture. The action of Canada to allow immigrants into the country and mostly the skilled labor force has helped in growing the country’s economy to great heights. Nevertheless, the Pakistani community has contributed a lot towards the development of Canada’s society and also the incorporation of the two cultures has enhanced understanding and a sense of belonging to mostly the Pakistani immigrants and the Canadian society in general.