Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

The Roots of Multiculturalism-Ukrainian-Canadian Involvement in the Multiculturalism Discussion of the 1960s as an Example of the Position of the "Third Force"

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

The Roots of Multiculturalism-Ukrainian-Canadian Involvement in the Multiculturalism Discussion of the 1960s as an Example of the Position of the "Third Force"

Article excerpt


Although Canada can rightfully claim to have had a multicultural tradition throughout its existence, it should be acknowledged that the beginnings of what we know today as multiculturalism are rooted in the initial discussions regarding bilingualism and biculturalism held during the 1960s. One of the groups most strongly involved in the debate was the Ukrainian-Canadian diaspora, which is taken as an example for the so-called "third force." By examining the Ukrainian contribution to the discussion, we gain insights into some of the fears and ideas of the other ethnic groups.

Bien que le Canada puisse legitimement se reclamer de tradition multiculturelle, force est de reconnaitre que celle-ci emane en grande partie du debat initie pendant les annees 1960 sur le bilinguisme et le biculturalisme au Canada. L'une des communautes les plus impliquees dans ce debat furent les Ukraino-Canadiens, qui servent d'illustration de la "troisieme force." L'examen de leur contribution au debat canadien ale merite de susciter une meilleure comprehension des desirs, des idees, mais aussi des craintes qu'ont les "autres groupes ethniques" de la mosaique canadienne.


On 8 October 1971, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau announced the first Canadian policy of multiculturalism to the House of Commons and only one day later addressed an audience of Ukrainian Canadians at a Ukrainian Canadian Congress convention in Winnipeg. (1) This public appearance is often interpreted as a sign that Trudeau acknowledged the strong contribution of Ukrainians during the multiculturalism discussions of the 1960s. Even today, Ukrainians are generally hailed as having been one of the most active participants in the entire debate on multiculturalism (Isajiw 1989, 113; Ferguson 1991, 307-08; Burnet and Palmer 1988, 224). However, the specifics of their positions in the debate have not, thus far, been thoroughly studied. (2) As Marcel Martel points out, research in the area of politics usually focuses on politicians and largely ignores ethnic and other interest groups (2004, 1), but these groups are very important in the context of the multiculturalism debate. This article offers insight into Ukrainian Canadians' position in the debate and thus an impression of the hopes and concerns of the third force. The third force consisted of the "other ethnic groups," because at the time of the debate, the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism (hereafter B&B Commission) divided Canadian society into three categories: the Founding Nations consisting of British and French Canadians, other ethnic groups, and First Nations. However, the B&B Commission only dealt with the first two categories (Government 1967, XXI-XXII).

Ukrainians are an interesting example of the position of the third force because they were (numerically) one of the largest of the other ethnic groups in Canada. According to the B&B Commission, they were also the best organized and most active group and could potentially lead the discussion. (3) Why were they so actively involved in the debate, and what did they hope to achieve? What kind of demands did they make, and how did they rationalize them? To what extent can we apply their position to the third force in general? How did the contribution of the other ethnic groups shape the discussion? Geographically, the article focuses on the prairie provinces and Ontario because it was in these regions that the majority of Canadian Ukrainians lived during the 1960s (Drieger 1980, 110). Following a short description of the theoretical aspects of multiculturalism, the situation in Canada will be outlined with a particular focus on Ukrainians. The demands made by Ukrainian-Canadian representatives as well as the arguments underlining them are then examined. The conclusion brings together the strands of the presentation, thereby situating the topic in the broader context of the third force. …

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