Throughout Canada’s rather short existence, a strong foundation of national identity has been laid down. It has come a long way from being under British rule and for good reason. Back when Canada was just newly becoming independent, it was difficult to characterize Canadian identity because of the sheer size of land the nation covered. Canada encompassed an enormous population of distinctly different people who all shared varied beliefs and values. What Canada needed was a way to unify all of its people and have them know they belong.
Canadian identity drastically developed for the better between the 1960s and 1980s through the nation’s promotion and representation of unity under national symbols and ideals. This promotion of nationalism was achieved through the adoption of a national flag, the introduction of an official bilingual policy, and the promotion of multiculturalism
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Topic Sentence: Although many link Canada’s historical upbringing with the Red Ensign, Lester B. Pearson believed it was time for Canada to grow up and have its own iconic emblem. The adoption of a new Canadian flag was integral to the maturing of Canada as an independent country.
Point 1: Lester B. Pearson knew it was time to raise a flag that distinguished it from its colonial upbringer, Britain. This was so that issues linked directly with the United Kingdom would not fall upon Canada when dealing with foreign countries.
Evidence 1: In 1956, Egyptians tried to take control of the Suez Canal and Britain put in place a counterattack. Canada sent in a peacekeeping force to save two of their closest allies from facing international condemnation. However, by sporting the ‘Union Jack’ as part of the Red Ensign, Canada was seen as a country flying the flag of an invading nation. This caused Egypt to want no relation with Canadian peacekeepers and was when Pearson realized that Canada needed its own symbol. By separating the armies of Britain and Egypt, Pearson hoped that a solution to the crisis could be found and negotiated between the two armed forces.
Analysis 1: By waving a flag completely distinct from that of Britain, Canada would no longer be seen as just another one of Britain’s colonies. Instead, Canada could gain a reputation of political neutrality which would allow for the nation to intervene and resolve some of the world’s greatest issues. It would also allow Canada to gain the respect and admiration of all countries for its individual contributions rather than its ties to Britain.
Point 2: Canada as a whole needed to show the world that it was its own self-governing nation to be able to establish individual relations across the globe. The flag marked a change in Canada’s relationship with Britain and started it on its path to true nationalism and lighter ties with the British Empire.
Evidence: Throughout the history of Canada, contact with England had been very strong, Canada supported almost everything the British said as well as fought all their battles alongside them, including World War I. Even when Canada was no longer territory of the British Empire, they were still pressured into going to war with them during World War II. At the nation’s current point, foreign countries saw Canada as just another one of Britain’s colonies.
Analysis: A flag without a Union Jack was the first step in making Canada truly “seen” for the first time in the world. When someone saw the Union Jack at the top left-hand corner of Canada’s Red Ensign, all hope for independence disappeared.
Point 3: The flag is a symbol of the nation’s unity as it represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of opinion, belief, race, or language.
Evidence 3: An international memo on March 23, 1964 was released to dictate that the new flag would need to avoid any use of national or racial symbols that might be of divisive nature. For that reason, the creators of a new Canadian flag sought to avoid the usage of the fleur-de-lis from Quebec and the Union Jack from Britain. Pearson understood that for Canada to truly become its own country, he would have to look past just its French and English components. That is how the ‘single stylized maple leaf’ flag came to be, it idealized all the principles Pearson and the Parliamentary committee wanted.
Analysis 3: The new flag was met with widespread support across Canada for its inclusion of the various different citizens of Canada. For a flag to be relevant to an entire country, the best course of action is to make it accepting of everyone. A maple leaf cannot offend anyone and it is Canada’s national tree, it was the best option to employ.
Concluding Sentence: The employment of the maple leaf to show that Canada is truly independent was essential to developing Canada’s identity, no matter where a citizen of Canada lives, they can look up, see the maple leaf, and feel a sense of nationality.
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Topic Sentence: Canada’s identity has been many times associated with its promotion and tolerance of diversity and multiculturalism.
Point 1: The uniqueness of Canada’s multiculturalism comes from the fact that most nations approach diversity with the mentality that assimilation is the best option.
Evidence 1: Most noted use of assimilation is in Canada’s southernly neighbour, United States. There are several nations like United States that seek to force or promote assimilation of all their citizens into one society which aims to have no cultural diversity.
Analysis: Many nations typically seek to have their people all be the same to make control of the population much more easier. They do this to have an identity based on similarities among their entire population. Canada, however, finds its identity in promoting differences and multiculturalism.
Point 2: Canada is one of the most sought after countries to immigrate to because of its foundation in acceptance and multiculturalism.
Evidence 2: In 2011, 21% of Canadians were foreign born, this is the highest portion among other G8 countries such as the United States, Germany, and United Kingdom. Canada is unique in the sense that in over 100 different places, minority groups are actually the majority.
Analysis 2: The G8 countries are extremely well-known for accepting immigrants and yet Canada comes out on top for having the most amount. This showcases that Canada roots much of its identity in the fact that such a high percentage of people come from varying countries.
Point 3: The government of Canada came up with the idea that Canada should be a mosaic of cultures where someone can be Canadian regardless of the place they come from.
Evidence 3: In 1971, it was declared by Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau that a multicultural policy would be adopted in Canada. Canada was the first country in the world to introduce multiculturalism as an official policy in the government. This led to the implementation of multiculturalism and policies of bilingualism in Canada in the ‘Canadian Multiculturalism Act of 1988’.
Analysis 3: This act formalized the government’s involvement in promoting the integration of people from all backgrounds into Canada. Canada is well-known for having established legislation to protect linguistic, ethnic, racial and religious diversity in Canada.
Concluding Sentence: Multiculturalism is a symbol of peaceful integration in an open-minded society and for this reason Canada stands out from the large mass of nations that believe assimilation is the best option.