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TOWARDS MULTICULTURAL GROWTH:
A Look at Canada from Classical Racism to Neo-Multiculturalism
Multiculturalism is almost passé now. Public debate has moved to local issues like deficit cutting, employment security, poverty, homelessness, bank profits, the environment and, of course, our favourite pastime, government bashing. International issues that have attracted attention are landmines, child labour and the Pacific Rim.
One of the major reasons for the disappearance of the public debate on Multiculturalism is certainly the advances made in the field, both as policy and practice. There may be differences of opinion as to how much of Multiculturalism is good, and even what exactly constitutes Multiculturalism, but nobody seriously now argues against it in principle. It is an accepted article of faith among Canadians and a norm of Canadian social policy.
But if Multiculturalism has moved out of the centre, it is hardly dead. It is indeed a part of our underground culture, meaning it lies just beneath the surface of our public and personal psyche. If Ontarions have put the Honourable Mike Harris in power because of the fiscal run-away irresponsibility of succeeding governments of the right, centre and left (in that order), it was also possibly a backlash of the hinterland against the multicultural extremism of the metropolis.
In the city of Toronto itself, the beating up of an innocent Tamil in Toronto by white hooligans, or the defacing of synagogues by white supremacists in the nineties may be seen as individual acts of misdemeanor. But they also represent a symbolic backlash of a majority pushed against the wall by an increasingly vociferous and apparently insatiable minority demand for more and more.
Whether Multiculturalism is passé or right centre in our conscience, one thing remains. It has moved Canada in a particular, and irreversible, direction. In view of this, it would make sense for us to learn from past mistakes but also to see if or how we can move forward toward a better future. This with compassion.
This is what this book is all about. But I don’t pretend it to be a comprehensive study, or a scholarly one. Rather it is merely one Canadian’s imaginative, even idiosyncratic, attempt. You will not find in these pages citations from authorities or research evidence — the bread and butter in my academic work. I don’t believe, however, that deep critical reflection as a participant-observer helps less in understanding a social phenomenon.
…informative, insightful and passionately written… I think you have written a rather controversial document. — George Bancroft, Professor, and past Executive Director, Ontario Ministry of Culture and Citizenship
Through perceptive, balanced insights, and a style that is both informed and witty, the book provides an informed and lucid exposition of Canadian Multiculturalism, supported by wide-ranging research, authoritative personal anecdotes, and a passionate commitment to Canada. — Frank Birbalsingh, Professor, York University, Toronto
This is an astonishing book – sometimes profound and wise, sometimes maddening, but always lively and full of élan. — June Callwood, social activist & author
Dr. Sugunasiri …courageously takes up the risk of losing the sympathy of his readers, both white and non white to say what he considers needs to be said in unequivocal terms. He throws satirical punches at both — Uma Parameswaran, Professor, University of Winnipeg, Chair, Racial Minority Writers’ Committee, Writers’ Union of Canada
A pragmatic tour of Canadian Multiculturalism. This book pulls issues and ideas about our multicultural experiment out of the hidden recesses of society into the sunlight. — Sheena Sharp, Architect
In this very personal commentary, there is enough ammunition for all sides in the debate on Multiculturalism. — Patricia Weldon, Senior Administrator.
PROF. SUWANDA H J SUGUNASIRI PhD (Toronto), MA (U of Pennsylvania), MA, MEd (Toronto), BA (London); Founder, Nalanda College of Buddhist Studies (Canada); Adjunct Professor, Divinity Faculty, Trinity College, University of Toronto;
past Executive Member, Ontario Advisory Council on Multiculturalism & Citizenship.
A pioneer in multicultural commentary (Toronto Star, Globe & Mail, CBC, Vision TV) and social activist in Multiculturalism, Interfaith Relations and Buddhism, Dr. Sugunasiri was a Fulbright scholar in the U.S. before arriving in Canada in 1967. Poet, fiction writer, theatre director and dancer, he is featured in Canadian Who’s Who. Founder, Nalanda College of Buddhist Studies, he teaches at the University of Toronto, and is Founding Editor, Canadian J. of Buddhist Studies. Born in Sri Lanka, he has a London BA, MA in Linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania, USA, and three degrees from the University of Toronto: MA in the Scientific Study of Buddhism, M Ed in Philosophy of Education and PhD in International Development. Past President, Buddhist Council of Canada, he