U50 conference addresses challenges to multiculturalism

An upcoming U50 conference, Multiculturalism and its Discontents, will address challenges and changes to the way people think about multiculturalism and the implications for the future.

Multiculturalism has evolved into one of the cornerstones of what it means to be Canadian, encompassing not only ethnicity but also gender, class and regionalism. It is held together by a curiosity about the other and an exposure to many different ways of living and knowing. There is, however, much research that challenges this assumption of multiculturalism, and many immigrant communities question the shortcomings of current policies on the matter, to the point that today, multiculturalism hangs in the balance.

Right: Daniel Drache

Multiculturalism and its Discontents, organized by the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies at York with the support of the York U50 Committee, is a public event featuring discussions by a wide selection of Canada’s best-known social commentators, journalists, pollsters and scholars. It will take place Sept. 24 and 25 in the Senate Chamber at Glendon campus.

The panellists will address multiculturalism’s legal and social limitations, its flashpoints, its successes and failures, as well as the unprecedented creativity of the many diasporas housed in Canada. There will be seven panels in all over the two days, including “Ask a Pollster: Is Multiculturalism Working as Part of our Value System?”, chaired by York Professor Daniel Drache, associate director of the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, with panellist Michael Adams, founder of Environics Research Group.

Left: Seth Feldman

Another panel will be “Ask a Constitutional Expert: Does Reasonable Accommodation Succeed in Protecting Tolerance and Diversity?”, chaired by Seth Feldman, director of the Robarts Centre, with panellists Professor Jamie Cameron of Osgoode Hall Law School; Barbara Jackman of Jackman & Associates; and political science Professor David Cameron of the University of Toronto.

Other panels include “Ask an Historian: Has Canada’s Signature Program Really Worked During the Last Twenty Years?”, “Ask an African-Canadian Scholar: What Have We Learned about the Pitfalls and Success of Multiculturalism?” and “Ask a Political Scientist: Is the Multicultural Vision and Policy Broken?”.

There is no registration fee, although advance registration is required. For more information or to register, contact Laura Taman, Robarts Centre coordinator, at 416-736-5499 or llt@yorku.ca, or visit the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies Web Site.