UBC Undergraduate Research

Multilingualism : An Indispensable Component in Canada’s Cultural Mosaic Lam, Annie


In contemporary Canadian society, many people recognize Canada as multicultural while embracing the ideology of cultural mosaic, in which they welcome immigrants from various ethnic groups who bring their cultures and native languages to Canada. Vancouver is world-famous for being one of Canada’s most culturally diverse cities. This paper explores the manifestation of multiculturalism inside Vancouver’s Chinatown, where incessant marginalization of certain ethnic minority populations and rapid gentrification of the neighbourhood's periphery are currently taking place. My experience as a student researcher and volunteer at a small non-profit local community centre in the Downtown Eastside (DTES) neighbourhood has given me the privilege of conducting ethnographic research with a group of Cantonese-speaking Chinese seniors through the organization’s cultural heritage preservation program. Throughout my fieldwork, I discovered the success that this heritage program has in promoting and fostering multiculturalism and language diversity in the Canadian society, where English is the country’s dominant language. In this paper, I provide an exploration of how the heritage program has alleviated social, cultural, and language tensions among people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. I argue that multilingualism is not only an indispensable component of Canada’s cultural mosaic but also the country’s promotion of multiculturalism.

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