Karen Mock gets Order of Canada – Read her thoughts…

By Dr. Karen Mock

Mock, karen

On December 29. 2017, the Governor General announced the newest recipients of the Order of Canada. We are delighted that in that list is Dr. Karen Mock, a founding board member of the Pearson Centre, who has many years of action and achievement in matters of human rights, anti-racism, multiculturalism and cross-cultural dialogue. We have benefited greatly from having her involved in our Centre’s development from Day One. Congratulations Karen!


Karen R. Mock, Ph.D., C.Psych.

On October 8, 1971, the policy of Canadian Multiculturalism was declared in the House of Commons. Much has changed in this country since then, and we have come from the euphoria of the commitment to celebrate our differences, to the tension of a backlash against multiculturalism, continually challenging the government and the Canadian population to redefine this unique concept that has attracted world-wide attention and admiration. It is beyond the scope of this address to trace the entire history of multiculturalism in Canada; nor can this be a review of the history of early racism and hate propaganda in this country, and the shameful period of the 1930s and ‘40s, including racist immigration policies post-war. I have written extensively on these issues elsewhere. This paper picks up where those historical records leave off. A brief glance at some of the research and thinking that shaped and reshaped our understanding of multiculturalism is intriguing indeed. Looking at the past will add insight into where we are now, and hopefully provide a foundation for determining future directions in coming to terms with and benefiting fully from our multicultural society.

Defining Multiculturalism – Where Have We Been?
In the years leading up to the declaration of the Multiculturalism policy in 1971, the government had become increasingly concerned about the integration of immigrants and the relations between cultural groups. In the ’60’s, the Citizenship Branch of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, that had been organized during the war, was moved to the Department of the Secretary of State, which, as you may recall, had its hands full with the culmination, or should I say the end of the so-called ‘quiet revolution’ and the emerging demands of Quebecois for recognition of language and cultural rights. And so the Bilingual and Bicultural Commission set out across the country to discover the view of all Canadians as we moved towards the recognition of two official languages. But, lo and behold, a “third voice” was heard throughout the land, as group after group and brief after brief spoke to the contributions and aspirations of the so-called “other” cultural communities. The B & B Report, as it was affectionately called, had to come up with an additional volume, recognizing ethnocultural minorities and advocating the protection of their cultural and linguistic rights. Multiculturalism was acknowledged as a reality within the bilingual framework.

When Multiculturalism was declared an official policy of this country, the government began to support heritage languages and activities of ethnocultural communities, as well as continuing its earlier programs designed to enhance long-term integration. In the ‘70’s the emphasis of the multiculturalism programming was on cultural retention and cultural sharing…”Celebrating Our Differences”, with the initiative for the direction of the programs coming from groups themselves. At the same time, removal of some of the systemic barriers in our immigration policy began to allow fairer access to Canada, and the voices of racial minorities began to be heard. There was a greater push nationally and internationally for equality and justice for all minority groups. Along with the multiculturalism policy, there were tremendous related developments in the early ’70’s.

Hate propaganda, the promotion of hatred against identifiable groups, became a criminal offence in Canada in 1970, when the hate laws were adopted as amendments to the Criminal Code (Sections 318-320). That same year, Canada ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which had been adopted by the UN in 1965, and signed by Canada in 1966. The Canadian government began to give more attention to equality issues. The Canadian Human Rights Act of 1977, and various provincial human rights codes, were also enacted to provide greater protection of minority rights.

But after several serious racial incidents in the Toronto subways and on the streets in the mid to late 70’s, Walter Pitman alerted us that “Now Is Not Too Late” in his call to action to combat growing racial tension as a result of changing demographics. A report by the Toronto Board of Education reminded us that “We Are All Immigrants to This Place” as they acknowledged a growing backlash and the necessity to provide better services to the multicultural population of the city. They followed with the “Report on Multiculturalism” and later the “Report on Race Relations”, and other Boards of Education began to follow suit across the country, to develop policies to promote equality in their systems and to implement procedures for handling racial incidents when they occurred.

Usually it was a catalytic event that led to policy development. For example, in the city of North York in Ontario, an invitation to the KKK to come into a classroom to present “the other side” made the principal and school board realize they had no policy on the books to prevent their coming into the school to spout racist ideology. At the same time, having nowhere else to turn, parents launched a class action suit with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission against the local school board to improve education for Black students. Right across the country it was recognized that if people interpreted multiculturalism as cultural retention and cultural sharing, but not as breaking down the barriers to real equality, the policy’s promise would never be fulfilled. A stronger, more direct thrust was needed. The education system led the way.

Still not able to use the “R” word and get funded, and still recognizing that francophones preferred “interculturelle” to “multiculturelle”, the Canadian Council for Multicultural and Intercultural Education held its first meeting in Winnipeg in 1981, and provincial multicultural councils and educational associations were created to build coalitions and develop multicultural and multiracial curriculum, materials and programs that were inclusive and designed to put the multiculturalism policy into practice. Aboriginal groups became more vocal at this time, with the concern that multiculturalism, as it was being interpreted, did not include them. Heritage language programs did extend linguistic and cultural programs to First Nations, but the most successful continued to be those which were self determined. With increasing pressure, multiculturalism programming began both more overtly to include race relations, and to include and enhance Aboriginal participation, independence and self-determination.

In 1982 the Charter of Rights and Freedoms entrenched multiculturalism and equality rights in the constitution, and it called on the whole Charter to be interpreted in a way the “preserves and enhances the multicultural heritage of Canada”. The Charter guaranteed equal protection and benefit of the law, free from discrimination on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, and religion. In the 80’s, amendments to various Human Rights Codes provided the Commissions the power to monitor and enforce those rights, strengthened in Ontario, for example, by the Race Relations Division of the Human Rights Commission. In 1984 the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC) published “Democracy Betrayed”, making public the history of Japanese Canadians, and they launched the campaign for redress for the complete abrogation of human and civil rights of Japanese Canadians. And the “Equality Now!” Task Force (1984) and “Employment Equity” Commission (1984) pointed out systemic racism in education, the media, health services, the criminal justice system and employment across the country. Both reports called for the immediate implementation of measures to combat discrimination and increase equity for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. In 1985, the Urban Alliance on Race Relations and the Social Planning Council asked “Who Gets the Work?”, and their research was unequivocal in finding blatant discrimination in hiring practices and in the workplace. And, all the while, there were ongoing rumours and reports of harassment of minorities by the police.

By the mid-1980’s, evaluation of the implementation of earlier school board Multiculturalism and Race Relations policies was disappointing indeed. Any attempt at real organizational change was met with resistance, and resulted in further marginalization of the staff who were trying to combat racism and effect change. Many research studies in education, media, policing, health, revealed very little movement in this area. It was also clear that effective race relations training in each of these sectors was sorely lacking. Parents and community groups were becoming more vocal in their demands for equitable treatment in schools. Backlogs were becoming more jammed in the Human Rights Commissions. And all the while alleged police harassment, and even shootings of minorities, in particular Black youth, increased. Clearly celebrating our differences was not enough. Many of us knew what had to be done, and having the courage to name the problem and to use the language was a start.

Masemann and Mock’s report on “Access to Government Services by Racial Minorities” (1987) revealed that differential treatment of minorities appeared to be the norm, resulting in lack of equal access to services, and the frustration, alienation, and continued feelings of marginalization and helplessness among racial minorities. My “Race Relations Training Manual” developed for the Ontario Race Relations Directorate in 1988 outlined training strategies for the various sectors. And our study on “Implementing Race and Ethnocultural Equity Policy in Ontario School Boards” (1989) documented the barriers to implementation and the key factors in success, and called on the Ministry to mandate such policies and to begin by cleaning up its own act in the area of equitable practices and multicultural anti-racist education… we could now use the words. The Multiculturalism Policy and its programs had enabled us to do the research, gather the data, and have the conferences…but then what? Many of the task forces, commissions and research studies of the ’80’s, and all their recommendations, represent the collective voices of many marginalized and victimized Canadians… voices summarized and then silenced in reports on shelves.

But in some circles, the concerns of the ’80’s were heard loudly and clearly, and it was eventually recognized that equality issues were the results of systemic inequalities and therefore beyond the capability of individuals or communities to resolve. That is, the co-operation and active involvement of government and institutions were required to achieve such goals as employment equity and the acceptance, not tolerance, of all communities as part of the so-called mainstream. These concepts are at the core of the 1988 Canadian Multiculturalism Act.

It is clearly stated in the Act that it “recognizes the diversity of Canadians as regards to race, national or ethnic origin, colour and religion as a fundamental characteristic of Canadian society”. And embedded in the Act is the notion that it is also a policy that is “designed to preserve and enhance the multicultural heritage of Canadians while working to achieve the equality of all Canadians in the economic, social, cultural and political life of Canada.” As an act of parliament, the Multiculturalism Act is directed to all Canadians, not just to ethnocultural or racial minority communities. The 1988 Act gave government institutions responsibility to implement multicultural organizational change, and the Department of Multiculturalism provided programming not just for community groups, but for so-called “mainstream” institutions – police, healthcare facilities, education, social service, the arts, – to develop and implement multiculturalism policies and programs towards equality of access and service delivery. The Act explicitly recognized the special status of Aboriginal Peoples. In addition, the Act resulted in multiculturalism no longer embedded within a bilingual framework, but each now had its own legislative and constitutional basis. With the policy enacted into legislation in 1988, there was indeed cause for celebration.

In 1988 there was also celebration amongst Japanese Canadians and all those who were part of the coalition lobby when redress was achieved. The NAJC negotiated the creation of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation into the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement, and the Canadian Race Relations Act was passed in 1990. Through the Redress Agreement and the creation of the CRRF, the government reaffirmed the principles of justice and equality for all citizens in Canada and pledged to ensure that such violations would not happen again.

But in 1989, yet another police shooting in Toronto’s Black Community created such an outcry that the “Task Force on Race Relations and Policing” was convened in Ontario to receive public deputations and in a very short time frame come up with concrete recommendations to improve police/community relations. The work was intense, the stories gut wrenching, the recommendations very concrete — some of which have been implemented, most of which have not — at least not in a way that their impact will have been felt on the street where it counts. So is it any wonder that several years later, in May 1992, after the so-called riot on Yonge Street after the Rodney King decision demonstration, that the Stephen Lewis commission on anti-Black racism heard deputation after deputation on the very same issues? So much so, that the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith’s deputation to the Metropolitan Toronto Police Services Board that I delivered on May 28, 1992 contained excerpts taken directly from the brief to the task Force on Race Relations and Policing, and to the Standing Committee on the Administration of Justice delivered two and three years before! How long does it take to turn words into action? Policy into practice? Rhetoric into reality? And how soon will it be before now IS too late?

Redefining Multiculturalism – Where Are We Now?
In the early 1990’s, if people like me were feeling demoralized, frustrated, fearful, helpless and exhausted, then how much more so the visible minority youth and their parents? For many we also have to add the words angry and betrayed. The only really surprising aspect of the riot and looting in May 1992 in Toronto…or in later in Vancouver…or racial gang fights in Halifax at a local school… is that it came as a surprise to anyone. The Canadian Race Relations Foundation Act was finally proclaimed in 1996 with the mandate to document the history of racism in Canada, expose its current manifestations, and to work for and with all Canadians towards the creation of a society that ensures equality and justice for all, regardless of race, colour, or ethnic origin. But by the mid ‘90’s there was the perfect combination of factors that escalated racial tension and violence. The proliferation of hate group activity across the country during this period from coast to coast was testimony to the results of these exacerbating factors.

First, fiscal restraint was often cited as a reason — or should I say excuse? — for not implementing equity initiatives, and many programs were cut back in this area particularly at the provincial level, the jurisdiction responsible for employment legislation. Such programs are considered “soft”, and not as important as the substantive matters in an organization or workplace. A recession causes people to retrench and compete, and to think of “me”, not to be concerned about empathy and altruism and promoting the “other” in the interest of equality or equity. Such a climate leads to attempts to preserve the status quo and systemic barriers to equality, rather that moving towards organizational change.

Secondly, though related to the first, is the severe backlash we are experiencing towards multiculturalism and all that it stands for — a resistance that is unjustified, perpetrated by those who want to preserve the status quo. A recessionary climate leads people to blame others for their misfortune, and in particular to scapegoat minorities. During such times, identifiable minorities are at risk. Analysis of the data gathered by hate crimes units over the past many years shows a negative correlation between interest rates and incidents of racism and hate crime.

Thirdly, international events influence the present climate in Canada. There has been a rise in the right and in xenophobia worldwide. David Duke in the U.S., LaPen in France, the neo-Nazis throughout Eastern Europe, all created a climate in which overt racism began to be commonplace and served as a stimulus for people here to become more bold in their racist behaviour. Also comparisons with Europe and the atrocities of “ethnic cleansing” in some parts of the world lead some Canadians to think we don’t have problems here; and so they can blame the victims for complaining, rather than acknowledging the racism that is inherent in our own society. The complicated political issues in the Middle East have also exacerbated tensions here. And in the post September 11th climate, we saw a backlash against racial minorities, and a real rise in overt racist incidents and hate crimes against Muslim and Arab Canadians, Jews, immigrants and refugees, as documented in the Canadian Race Relations Foundation’s Appeal for Vigilance Against Racial and Religious Intolerance (2001), proof yet again that racism is very close to the surface. In the anti-terrorism frenzy and under a heightened security agenda, racial profiling is not uncommon, and there have been many reports of the abrogation of human and civil rights, almost reminiscent of the 1940’s – strengthening the resolve of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation to fulfil its mandate and mission that can be summed up in two words: never again!

Fourth, I continue to be concerned about increasing divisiveness among and between minority communities and equity seeking groups. The essence of this work is to break down the barriers to equality so there can be equal access for all groups and shared power. But because of the politicization of these issues, and also because of the failure of government to introduce innovative models (e.g. of funding, management, organizational culture), people and groups are forced to play this all out within existing structures, and end up competing for power, pitted against one another, rather than bringing groups together. For example, it is much harder for the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims (CAJM) to receive support, than it is for synagogues and mosques to receive federal funding for security cameras. In the ’90’s the notions of shared power and the empowerment of others were relegated to lip-service, while there were increasing attempts to grab power for oneself or ones group. This leads people into the dangerous and divisive practice of comparing pain and victimization, and may even result in racism towards or violations of the human rights of other groups in the promotion of ones own agenda, as we have experienced recently.

There are also attempts to undermine significant strides that have been made when the times were different and therefore the modus operandi had to conform to the climate in the interest of furthering the equity and anti-racist agenda. One such divisive practice is the deliberate put-down of the concept of multiculturalism by anti-racist/anti-oppression activists, when in fact there are intimate connections, historically and particularly in the legislation. One cannot be achieved without the other. For various local and provincial governments to fall into the trap of separating these concepts is to increase the divisiveness in the equity seeking and social justice movement, to create competition where there should be co-operation by pitting some groups against others, and to inadvertently fall into the role of perpetuating old hierarchical power-based structures, under the guise of creating new, more egalitarian models.

Witness the failure of countless “multicultural” or “race relations” or “human rights” committees when people cannot leave their organizational or political agendas behind. Many such efforts deteriorate into who should be in charge, who should control the agenda and the finances, or make the opening remarks at a conference, while many remain marginalized and voiceless in the process.

Witness also the gap that still exists between theory and practice in education. Every teacher who knows child development and learning theory will emphasize the importance of individual self esteem, the connection between self worth and learning, and of every child’s having role models so that he or she can reach full potential. But that same teacher will argue against employment equity in a school board where a person of colour is more likely to be the caretaker than a teacher or principal. Or that teacher will advocate continuing to call the winter festive celebration the “Christmas” Concert, while children of minority religious groups continue to feel like second-class citizens. In a study I conducted not too long ago on the nature and extent of hate activity in Toronto, where all the school boards have anti-racism or human rights policies, one young Black student poignantly told me that he went to a school where there was a greater punishment for smoking than for racism.

Another example of the failure to “walk the talk” I have experienced personally is an increase in antisemitism, even among some of my former colleagues in the anti-racism movement, and a blatant failure to name it. Using theoretical jargon, it is not uncommon for me to hear that “Jews have wealth and power…they cannot be victims of oppression … so antisemitism should not be on the anti-racist agenda”. Indeed, rather than failing to name it and define it, antisemitism must be included and understood (in all its forms, historically and currently) as anti-Jewish oppression, in the same way Islamophobia includes all forms of discrimination against Muslims or racism against people of colour.

While I would be the first to acknowledge what is called “white privilege” in the Canadian context, it is ludicrous for someone to claim that they are working to eliminate racism and discrimination, and then continue to stereotype minority groups other than their own. And we must stop the racism and Islamophobia among those who fight antisemitism, and the homophobia and sexism among many groups fighting for equality and human rights. Failure to understand intersectionality among and similarities between various forms of oppression makes single issued and self-centred struggles blatantly transparent. Self examination is essential in our work, lest the victim becomes the victimizer, and the quest for shared power becomes nothing more than a grab for power.

So where are we now? At yet another crossroads. There has been lots of talk, many recommendations over the years. There is a feeling of betrayal, frustration, helplessness, hopelessness among minority groups, at the same time as there is a retrenchment and backlash by the so-called majority groups, who are having an increasing influence on government policies and programs. Politicians have seized on this discontent in their own grab for power, and many of the strides we made in the development and implementation of the multiculturalism policy, as we moved from cultural retention to anti-racism in the quest for equity have been eroded. As an optimist I say that we would not have experienced a backlash if we weren’t making progress. Let us ensure that evidence of that progress is translated into concrete action that affects those who do not see any change or hope of change for their own lives.

The challenge for the future of multiculturalism, indeed of Canadian society as we know it, is to build on a model of shared resources in a climate of declining resources — to develop coalitions in the interest of social cohesion and integration — the true goals of multiculturalism. But goals which will not be achieved until racism and hate are eliminated.

Taking Action – Where Are We Going?

The time is long overdue for putting the policies and the recommendations and the theories into practice, for putting the words into action. It is not the multiculturalism policy that is at fault; it is the lack of implementation of that policy in its fullest form. People feel they have not been listened to … and regretfully have been shown that only when their frustration leads to violence and lawlessness will they and their needs be taken seriously. The situation also makes the disenfranchised vulnerable to being drawn in by propaganda perpetrated by leaders who, in their quest for power, scapegoat others, build on an anger out of proportion to their lived experience, and who ultimately turn to violence to enhance their power and control. We don’t need new task forces – we need to implement the old ones. And implementation usually falls into three main categories: education, community liaison, and legal/legislative initiatives, which I have described as Prevention, Partnerships and Protection. THAT is what putting multiculturalism into action entails.

Prevention – Education and training are essential – multicultural anti-racist (aka diversity and human rights) training in the police, the media, the education system, and the criminal justice system. Community based organizations and other NGOs can offer assistance in this regard. Anti-racist, equity and inclusive education workshops to school boards (students, teacher, administrators) and guidance on policy development and implementation should be compulsory and system wide; courses and materials for use in policing services and judicial education programs are also available. Unless police officers are trained effectively in the use of force under stress, and in multicultural and race relations issues, then the shootings will not stop, and neither will the evidence of biases and racial profiling that exist. The former Solicitor General’s unit on Race Relations and Policing had a training unit, but it was cut back by the previous government and no longer exists. Clearly more time and resources have to be allocated to pre- and in-service education in all sectors.

Partnerships – Community Liaison is another avenue to solve the problems we are facing today. Intercultural dialogue, community partnerships, coalition building and co-operation reduce stereotypes and promote harmonious race relations. But these partnerships must be real. The kinds of programs introduced by various police services to integrate minority and disenfranchised youth into their programs and to consult with community are exemplary and should be carefully examined. There are also several exciting programs in schools across the country that should be used as models. Many of these programs are outlined in the Canadian Race Relations Foundation’s summary of best practices honoured by the Award of Excellence program over the last few years.

But those who pay lip service to community involvement and consultation, or tokenize community involvement, soon find that the community feels betrayed when they see their concerns are not heard and their participation not genuine. Outreach is essential in time of conflict and tension, but should not just be restricted to it. For example, during a crisis, organizations should not rely on the media, but should consult first hand. There was evidence of outreach to the Black communities right after the so-called riots in 1992. And the Muslim/Jewish Dialogue began at the height of the Gulf War and intensified after 9/11. So should policing services or schools reach out to the aggrieved community whenever there is an incident. Healing after September 11, 2001 occurred more quickly when communities met together for mutual support and to build social cohesion in a time of fear and anxiety. This is what we now mean as “Multiculturalism in Action” – coming together to resolve differences, build on similarities, and to share and celebrate our unique identities in a common Canadian context, and for the common good, regardless of racial and religious differences. These are the kinds of programs that must be supported and encouraged , especially now that we are seeing an increase in hate and bias crime against all minorities — rather than those that divide us – and at every age level, including on campuses across the country.

Protection – Legal/Legislative Initiatives are also applicable in our discussion of where should the government go in resolving the current situation created by the last several years of backsliding. The federal government employment equity targets as a result of the “Embracing Change” Task Force was a step in the right direction; but we continue to hear of overt and systemic discrimination against racialized minorities in the public service. There must be effective policies in place in each of our institutions and at every level of government, if we are ever going to change behaviour and achieve true equality and equity. The Ministries of Education must again not only mandate but also monitor the effective implementation of race and ethnocultural equity policies (eg Ontario’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy). And the policing services must have mandatory diversity and human rights training, as well as strategies for identifying and dealing with hate/bias crime and the victim impact of such crime. But support is continually fluctuating for such programs, even as the needs are escalating.

And there must be a truly independent method of investigating the police, that is independent even of the Ministry of Community Safety and Corrections — and of the military, independent of the Department of Defence. Our public institutions must not only BE FAIR, but they must BE SEEN TO BE fair. The public trust must be restored. There is no doubt that many individuals will not come forward to complain to an internal investigative body in a hierarchically organized institution. People would be more forthcoming to a totally independent auditing body. I also believe that we must have a similar situation in the education system. Students and teachers are victimized daily by racism and discrimination, but do not come forward because of the internal processes which are inconsistent from school to school, and which often result in the victim’s being blamed or not deemed credible. A completely independent investigatory body with full power to do a thorough investigation (with or without an individual complainant, but on the basis of sufficient evidence), would do wonders to move the education system forward, particularly on the matter of systemic discrimination. But in the present system, whether it’s police, or schools, the armed forces or a government department itself, people are fearful at every level to stand up against racism and discrimination … and of losing power (whether its a job, or elected office). As a result we continue often to work in poisoned atmospheres, afraid to take the risk, and not knowing where to turn for support. These are all areas which a redefined and strengthened Multiculturalism Policy can address at the local, provincial and national levels.

It seems with the creation of the Multiculturalism Department several years ago, with its own Minister and Deputy Minister, and with its increasing emphasis on anti-racism and anti-hate initiatives, it appeared that the will to take the risk was there. But the political will eroded. Multiculturalism was one of the departments significantly reduced when it was folded into the Department of Canadian Heritage and placed again under the auspices of a junior minister as Secretary of State for Multiculturalism and Status of Women. Then it was transferred to Citizenship and Immigration, at the same time as funds have been severely cut back. For example, three-quarters of the offices of the Status of Women were closed across the country, with concomitant reduction in several outstanding women’s programs in the NGO sector. A case in point is that the partnership between Multiculturalism (Canadian Heritage) and SSHRC – for research on multiculturalism, social cohesion and hate crimes – no longer exists, while the very existence is threatened for arms length agencies such as the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and Rights and Democracy (the latter already eliminated) because of funding issues and challenges, at a time in Canada and worldwide that such departments, programs and agencies need to be strengthened at the same time as being held accountable. Now that Multiculturalism is back under the Canadian Heritage umbrella and there is a Parliamentary Secretary to give it more attention, there is cause for optimism again.

Can we withstand the onslaught of right-wing thinking and veiled racist ideology of some of the opposition to multiculturalism, anti-racism and human rights initiatives in the media and across the country? Will the federal leadership in human rights and race relations be able to re-build after the dismantling of many of the federal and provincial agencies and programs responsible for these areas? There are hard won rights and freedoms that we cannot allow to be undermined by those who only wish to maintain privilege and power. Neither should we be co-opted nor corrupted by the same quest. When we fail to remove the barriers to equality, we are easily co-opted by the same structures, and pitted against one another in the competition for power and scarce resources. This is clearly not in the spirit of the ideals of the multiculturalism policy, and we must remain vigilant to ensure that this is not the case.

We have come along way, and Now is NOT Too Late. But we are close. Racism has been acknowledged as a reality in Canada. After the 2001 World Conference Against Racism, Canada developed an Anti-Racism Action Plan. The time is long overdue for its implementation. We will never achieve the vision of our multicultural society until racism is eliminated. We still have a long way to go, but through effective Education, Community Liaison, and Legal/Legislative Action, we’ll get there together.

The very essence of the Canadian Multiculturalism policy is the commitment to removing the many barriers to equality, so that ultimately all groups within Canada have equal access, equal opportunity, and equal rights, thereby becoming fully Canadian. This was the promise of the policy in 1971, and it was predicted that its implementation would lead to more loyal Canadians. It is ironic that the results of the Quebec referendum of 1995 proved this to be true, as we continued to struggle to define Canada and to achieve Canadian unity in diversity. But the BC Referendum of 2002 truly showed the tyranny of the majority, when it comes to Aboriginal and minority rights.

In October 2011 we commemorated the 40th anniversary of the multiculturalism policy …we will soon approach 50 years… and we have indeed come a long way since its inception. Because of our laws and our codes, individual rights are protected. Because of our commitment to a multicultural Canada, communities are working together to fight racism and to achieve group rights. I am still hopeful we will achieve the goals of the Multiculturalism Policy, because of our commitment to human rights, democracy, equality, equity and social justice, the factors that will continue to inform our shared vision of what it means to be Canadian.


Burnet, Jean (1981) “Multiculturalism Ten Years Later.” History and Social Science Teacher, 17(1)

Canada (1969) Report of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, Book IV: The Cultural Contribution of the Other Ethnic Groups. Ottawa: Queen’s Printer.

Canada (1971) House of Commons Debates, October

Canada (1984) Equality Now! Report of the Special Committee on Visible Minorities in Canadian Society. Ottawa: House of Commons.

Canada (1984) Report of the Commission on Employment Equity. Ottawa: Supplies and Services.

Canadian Race Relations Foundation (2001) Appeal for Vigilance Against Racial and Religious Intolerance. Toronto: www.crr.ca

Constitution Act (1982), Part 1, 27. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms – A Guide for Canadians.

Henry, Frances, and Ginsberg, Effie (1985) Who Gets the Work? Toronto: Social Planning Council and the Urban Alliance on Race Relations.

Hryniuk, Stella, ed. (1992) Twenty Years of Multiculturalism. Winnipeg: St. John’s College Press.

Lewis, Stephen (1992) Stephen Lewis Report on Race Relations in Ontario. Ministry of Citizenship.

Masemann, Vandra, and Mock, Karen R. (1987) Access to Government Services by Racial Minorities. Ontario Race Relations Directorate, Ministry of Citizenship.

Mock, Karen R. (1988) Race Relations Training: A Manual for Practitioners and Consultants (Draft Report). Ontario Race Relations Directorate, Ministry of Citizenship. [2002 edition soon to be published by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation].

Mock, Karen R. and Masemann, Vandra L. (1990) Race and Ethnocultural Equity Policy Development and Implementation in Ontario School Boards. Ministry of Education.

National Association of Japanese Canadians (1984) Democracy Betrayed

Ontario Ministry of Education (2009) Ontario’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy (Realizing the Promise of Diversity) including Guidelines for Implementation www.edu.gov.on.ca

Pitman, Walter (1975) Now is Not Too Late. Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto.

Toronto Board of Education (1975) Report on Multicultural Programs.

Toronto Board of Education (1979) Final Report of the Committee on Race Relations

Karen R. Mock, Ph. D., C.Psych.(ret)
Dr. Karen Mock is the former Executive Director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, a crown corporation that operates at arm’s length from the government and has UN Special Consultative Status under ECOSOC. The CRRF was founded under the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement, and was proclaimed in 1996 “to work at the forefront of efforts to combat racism and all forms of racial discrimination in Canada.”

Prior to her appointment to the Foundation in October 2001, Dr. Mock spent 12 years as National Director of the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith Canada. She worked for over 20 years in psychology and teacher education at the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, and York University. Dr. Mock is a registered psychologist, and is well known as a dynamic lecturer and workshop facilitator. Considered a pioneer in the field, she has conducted extensive research and published widely on issues related to multiculturalism, human rights and race relations. In 1979, she developed the first course in Canada on multicultural teacher education (Education in a Multicultural Society) that was mandatory for pre-service teachers in the Early Childhood Education Department at Ryerson.

Karen Mock has been qualified by the courts as an expert in racism, discrimination, antisemitism, hate crime and hate group activity. She was the principal advisor on race and ethnic relations to the Western Judicial Education Centre, and continues to work with all levels of the criminal justice system on these issues. She has served as the President of the Ontario Multicultural Association, a member of the Board of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, and Chair of the Canadian Multiculturalism Advisory Committee to the Minister of State for Multiculturalism. She chaired the national civil society Advisory Committee to the Secretary of State and the Canadian Secretariat for Canada’s preparation for the UN World Conference Against Racism, and was on the Canadian delegation to WCAR in Durban, South Africa, in 2001. Dr. Mock was a founding member of and remains active in the Antiracism Multicultural Education Network of Ontario (AMENO), the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims (CAJM), the Women’s Intercultural Network (WIN) and the Canadian Arab/Jewish Leadership Dialogue Group. She is currently a member of the Board of the Pearson Centre for Progressive Policy, and the President of JSpaceCanada, a progressive Jewish organization.

Dr. Mock chaired the Hate Crimes Community Working Group for the Ministries of the Attorney General, and Community Safety and Corrections, which reported to the Government of Ontario in December 2006 with the strategy Addressing Hate Crimes in Ontario. She served as Senior Policy Advisor on Equity and Diversity to the Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Education, for the development of Ontario’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy, which was launched in April 2009. Dr. Mock continues her human rights consulting, and diversity and equity training in both the public and private sectors. Among the many awards and honours for her work, she was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal “for her service to her community, her peers, and her country.”

*Note: To commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Multiculturalism Policy,Redefining Multiculuralism was adapted and updated from a presentation at the University of Victoria conference “Changing Multicultural Identities” and published by U Vic in 2002 on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Multiculturalism Policy. The presentation was adapted and updated from a paper by Karen Mock published previously in Canadian Social Studies, 1997, Vol. 31, No. 3&4, entitiled: “25 Years of Multiculturalism – Past, Present and Future”.It has been further adapted for the 46th anniversary of the policy, as we revitalize the policy and practice.

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