Few, if any countries, celebrate multiculturalism more than Canada.
In fact, multiculturalism is an official national policy, the first country to make it so.
In 1971, then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau announced bilingualism and multiculturalism would be national policy. In 1982, Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms supported the right to multiculturalism. In 1988, federal funding began to be distributed to help groups protect their cultures.
More than people in most countries, Canadians willingly accept these policies. One reason: there are so many different cultures. Diversity and immigration has played an important role in the history of Canada, creating a wide mixture of cultures, languages, ethnicities and religions.
In fact, four-in-10 Canadians are either first- or second-generation residents.
Today, Canada’s adoption of multiculturalism is admired in much of the world.
This also means that whether it’s for business, personal or social reasons, it’s important for Canadians to learn how other people think and act, to know others’ cultures and how to respect and work with them.
In the work place, for example, cultural understanding, such as that taught in the Berlitz Cultural Navigator®, can help diverse employees become more tolerant of each other, work more closely and cooperate with each other, increasing productivity and company success. Cultural understanding also helps people to become more open to new ideas and thoughts, which can allow workers to be more creative in overcoming problems and taking advantages of opportunities.
In addition to promoting smoother operations within the office, communications tools such as FaceTime, Skype and others allow people to communicate instantly across thousands of miles away. Work habits and customs can differ significantly from country to country and recognizing those can make you and your company more successful.
(It’s important to note that the definitions of multiculturalism and diversity are becoming increasingly different in many workplace environments. Diversity may relate to such characteristics as age, gender, race, etc., compared with multiculturalism, when a wide range of cultures are included, and sometimes not segregated by age and gender.)
Cultural understanding can also expand your network of friends and acquaintances, enhancing personal and social relationships. You may also become more curious and knowledgeable about the way others live, increasing your knowledge, understanding and an appreciation of different ways of life.
This is particularly true in Canada, which has so many people with so many different backgrounds.