Diversity and interculturalism: learning from Winnipeg's Inner City.
Article Type: Report
Subject: Canadian native peoples (Social aspects)
Canadian native peoples (Emigration and immigration)
Multiculturalism (Research)
Author: Ghorayshi, Parvin
Pub Date: 06/22/2010
Publication: Name: Canadian Journal of Urban Research Publisher: Institute of Urban Studies Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2010 Institute of Urban Studies ISSN: 1188-3774
Issue: Date: Summer, 2010 Source Volume: 19 Source Issue: 1
Topic: Event Code: 290 Public affairs; 310 Science & research
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Manitoba Geographic Name: Winnipeg, Manitoba; Winnipeg, Manitoba Geographic Code: 1CMAN Manitoba
Accession Number: 243797914
Full Text: Abstract

We are experiencing, through a series of public and private decisions, the globalizing of our urban communities. Winnipeg's inner city, the focus of this research, is deeply touched by the globalizing process. It is in the inner city of Winnipeg, that newcomers, especially refugees, have joined the historical minority-Aboriginal people who struggle with poverty and exclusion. In this qualitative study, I discuss the changing ethno-racial composition of Winnipeg's inner city due to immigration and attendant modes of social exclusion. Newcomers feel excluded from and distanced from Canadian society, and there are tensions between newcomers and the historical minority--Aboriginal people, who are disproportionately located in the inner city. The voices of participants in this study suggest that official multiculturalism has not resulted in the elimination of exclusion and marginalization within these racialized groups. Therefore, I suggest a shift from multiculturalism to interculturalism.

Keywords: migration and diversity, newcomers and Aboriginal people, interculturalism, urban governance


Nous vivons, a travers une serie de decisions publiques et privees, la mondialisation de nos communautes urbaines. Centre-ville de Winnipeg, l'objectif de cette recherche, est profondement touche par le processus de mondialisation. I1 est dans le centre-ville de Winnipeg, que les nouveaux arrivants, en particulier les refugies, ont rejoint le peuple historique de la minorite autochtone qui lutte a la pauvrete et l'exclusion. Dans cette etude qualitative, je discuter de la composition changeante ethno-raciale de la ville de Winnipeg grace a l'immigration et les modes d'exclusion sociale.Les nouveaux arrivants se sentent exclus et eloignes de la societe canadienne, et li ya des tensions entre les nouveaux arrivants et le peuple historique de la minorite autochtone, qui sont demesurement situe dans le centre-ville. Les voix des participants a cette etude suggerent que le multiculturalisme officiel n'a pas abouti a l'elimination de l'exclusion et de marginalisation au sein de ces groupes racialises. Par consequent, je suggere un changement du multiculturalisme a l'interculturalism.

Keywords: migration et diversite, les nouveaux arrivants et les Autochtones, la Gouvernance urbaine


Migration, the human dimension of globalization, is one of the defining global issues of the twenty-first century. There are an estimated 194 million international migrants today (International Organization for Migration (IOM) 2010). With sustained low fertility and rapidly aging populations the developed countries rely on migrants for their continued economic growth. Faced with perceived and real labour shortages, the governments and industries of developed countries are evaluating migration policies and showing a preference for relatively flexible mechanisms. Canada is in the forefront of this globalizing trend and is the destination for many international migrants, forced and voluntary.

Migration is a strong current of change that deeply impacts cities and raises many questions. It is estimated that upwards of 80 percent of population growth in this century will be in urban areas (Axworthy 2009). All cities, including Winnipeg, are touched by the globalizing process. We are experiencing, through a series of public and private decisions, the globalizing of our urban communities. Winnipeg's inner city, the focus of this research, is deeply touched by the globalizing process. It is in the inner city of Winnipeg that newcomers, especially refugees, have confronted the historical minority--Aboriginal people who struggle with poverty and exclusion. Aboriginal people and visible minorities account for 44 percent of Winnipeg's inner-city population (City of Winnipeg 2006). There is a gap in our knowledge regarding the changing ethno-racial composition of Winnipeg's inner city due to immigration and attendant modes of social exclusion. This study takes a small step to fill this gap.

The information used in this paper is based on interviews carried out between November 2007 and January 2009. Interviewees include 24 refugees (14 women and 10 men), 20 immigrants, (10 men and 10 women) and 27 policy makers, teachers, and service providers, in both government and nongovernmental institutions, and one person in the media (16 women and 11 men). Added to this information source is a project on Aboriginal and Newcomer Relations that includes interviews with 4 individuals, from different agencies, who solely provide services to Aboriginals; 3 who serve both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people; and 16 residents of the inner city, 8 Aboriginal (4 men and 4 women) and 8 newcomers (4 men and 4 women). In addition, there are 139 short autobiographies of new comer youth who have attended the Employment Solution Centre and are 20 to 30 years old.

In what follows, I look first at the growing importance of immigration in Canada and Manitoba. Then I discuss the changing ethno-racial composition of Winnipeg's inner city and the social exclusion of Aboriginal people and racialized newcomers. I draw attention to the emergence of remarkable numbers of government and non-governmental organizations that provide services to newcomers and Aboriginal people. However, voices of participants show that racism, misinformation, isolation and lack of inter-connectedness between ethno-racial groups continue to be a problem, over and above the problems of housing and jobs--a problem that I describe as 'layers of separation'. Newcomers feel excluded from and distanced from Canadian society, and there are tensions between newcomers and the historical minority, Aboriginal people, who are disproportionately located in the inner city. In the section titled 'Beyond Multiculturalism', I acknowledge that there is a rich scholarship and lively debate on multiculturalism. Supporters credit multiculturalism for making Canada an "unlikely utopia" (Adams 2007), and for doing "better than virtually any other country in the world in the integration of immigrants" (Kymlicka 1988, 21). Critics see multiculturalism as a business that sells diversity and favours the dominant French and English groups (Abu-Leban and Gabriel 2002), as an "illusion" that has led to "undeniable ghettoization" (Bissoondath 1994), and as an ideological state apparatus biased against race, gender, and class (Bannerji 2000). I do not intend to join the rich and complex debate about multiculturalism, but the voices of participants in this study suggest that official multiculturalism has not resulted in the elimination of exclusion and marginalization within these racialized groups.

Therefore, I suggest a shift from multiculturalism to interculturalism. By interculturalism I mean finding ways of addressing diversity and difference that negate exclusion, discrimination, inequality, and a fixed notion of Canadian identity. Dialogue between cultures, inter-ethnic relationships, and inter-cultural knowledge are at the core of interculturalism, for the majority as well as minorities. Above all interculturalism requires a fundamental shift from centralized decision making to democratic governance.

The Latest Portrait of Canada and Manitoba

Canada has always had a changing demographic landscape, but the current shifts are remarkable. The percentage of immigrants in the total population has increased from 16.1 percent in 1991 to almost 20 percent in 2006 (MB Immigration Facts 2006), and about one of 5 Canadians is foreign-born (Statistics Canada 2007). Immigration has become increasingly important to Canadas population growth; by 2025 it could well be the only source of growth.

Canada has been introducing changes at the federal and provincial levels to attract more immigrants and temporary workers. (1) The number of immigrants has increased from over 4 million in 1991 to over 6 million in 2006, an increase of 70.1 percent. In 2008 alone, Canada welcomed over 520,000 newcomers, including temporary workers and students (Kenney 2009). The 2006 census documented more than 200 ethnic groups in Canada; 5.2 million people have a mother tongue other than English or French. This figure is rising. Canada today is home to representatives of virtually all the world's population and is a unique depository of global cultures. A noticeable trend is that the overwhelming majority of newcomers are from non-European countries and visible minorities surpass 5 million people.

The government of Manitoba, like others in Canada, firmly believes that immigrants are an economic and demographic imperative. On January 18, 2007, the provincial Labour and Immigration Minister announced that Manitoba has been "immensely successful" and has achieved the highest level of immigration (11,000) since 1957(MB labour and Immigration 2007). This success is largely attributed to Manitoba's Provincial Nominees Program (PNP) and the role played by the private firms who are addressing their needs by hiring foreign temporary workers (2) (Staff Writer, WFP. 2009). The goal is to increase the number of newcomers to 20,000 per year.

Manitoba is one of the most ethnically diverse provinces in Canada. Since 1999, Manitoba has accepted 6,500 refugees, including more than 3000 from five troubled hot spots: Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Yugoslavia and Sierra Leone (Sanders 2005). Today more than 100 languages are spoken across the province. The colour and source countries of the immigrants are changing. Census data show that the top ten countries of origin of newcomers to Manitoba are: the Philippines 29.9 percent; Germany 12.6 percent; India 9.3 percent; China 5.6 percent; El Salvador 3.9 percent; Israel 3.0 percent; Ethiopia 2.5 percent; Korea 2.4 percent; Ukraine 2.1 percent; and U.S.A. 1.9 percent (MB Immigration Facts 2007:17). The top three countries of birth of immigrants to Winnipeg prior to 1986 were the UK, the Philippines and Germany; today the majority of immigrants destined for Manitoba arrives from non-Western European countries and settles in Winnipeg.

Migration and diversity deeply affect the fabric of life at the local level--housing, schools, the health system, parks, neighbourhoods, and so on. Cities continue to be the main destination for both internal and international migration, and the majority of immigrants live in the city. In Winnipeg, like elsewhere, the most significant repercussions of migration and diversity are felt at the local level, but decisions about immigrants, refugees and temporary workers are formulated mainly at the national level with inputs from the provincial government.

The Changing Landscape of the Inner City

Winnipeg is the final destination for 76.9 percent of newcomers to Manitoba, followed by Winkler, Brandon, and Steinbach (MB Immigration Facts 2007). Winnipeg's population has expanded by 2.2 percent from 2001 to 2006; immigrants account for 19.1 percent of its population. People of diverse cultures reside in Winnipeg, and the overwhelming majority of newcomers (84 percent) are visible minorities from non-traditional sources (City of Winnipeg 2006) (3). Visible minorities make up 16.3 percent, or one in six, of Winnipeg's population (MB Immigration Facts 2007), and their percentage of the total population will continue to rise. Winnipeg's African and Caribbean populations, for example, are growing at nine times the rate of the city's population as a whole. We must also note that Winnipeg is home to the largest Aboriginal ancestry (4) population in Canada--over 70,000 according to the latest census (City of Winnipeg, 2006).

The arrival of people from around the globe has changed the face of Winnipeg's inner city, a space where the impact of immigration and diversity is particularly noticeable. Winnipeg's inner city is now home to a disproportionately high population of Aboriginal people, newcomer immigrants and refugees. Over the years, a number of factors, including racism, have contributed to the high concentration of Aboriginal people in the inner city (Silver 2008). By 2006, 20.9 percent of inner-city residents were recorded to be of Aboriginal ancestry, while visible minorities accounted for 23.1 percent of the inner-city population. Aboriginal people and visible minorities together account for 44 percent, just under one-half, of residents in this densely populated urban space (City of Winnipeg 2006). Participants in this study stated a variety of reasons for 'choosing' the inner city as home: centrality of location, access to services, lack of transportation, being dose to the members of their own community, and the fact that the inner city is the site of many subsidized housing units and a space where they find affordable rental accommodation, even if it is not adequate in condition and size.

Using social and economic indicators and comparing inner city with non-inner city populations reveals striking facts. The inner city has over 2.5 times the population density of the non-inner city. The unemployment rate for inner city residents over 25 years of age is 6.9 percent versus 3.3 percent in the non-inner city. Almost half of inner-city households, in 2006, had less than $30,000 annual income; 60.9 percent live in a rented dwelling, 70.2 percent of those over the age of 15 fall in the category of single, separated, divorced or widowed, and 53.8 percent moved between 2001 and 2006; the respective figures for the non-inner city population are 22.1 percent, 27.7 percent, 48.7 percent and 37.9 percent (City of Winnipeg 2006). These figures speak to the fact that there are layers of separation between residents of the inner city and those in the rest of Winnipeg. Inner-city residents experience high unemployment rates, low income and poverty. They live in cheap, older rental dwellings, and have a high rate of residential mobility in their search for employment or a place to live. A combination of factors such as deindustrialization, suburbanization, together with colonization, neoliberal ideology, and new immigration policies contributed to the construction of the inner city as a space of concentrated racialized poverty. However, the harsh realities of inner-city neighbourhoods combined with the contradictory outcomes of various policies gave rise to the emergence of community-based organizations. A distinctive form of development has emerged (Silver 2008), and inner-city residents are empowered through a remarkable explosion of community-based organizations (CBOs) in a space that is fraught with racism, various forms of violence and related socio-economic problems.

The following discussion of community-based organizations shows that despite problems, there is a noticeable vigour in Winnipeg's inner city.

The Growth of Community Based Organizations (CBOs)

With the neoliberal policies of the state, governance has been viewed as a way of shifting responsibility from the state onto the private, voluntary sectors and civil society in general. The unintended result of neoliberal policies was the creation of a space for CBOs, many of the best of which are Aboriginal. Aboriginal people have fashioned their own indigenous form of community-based development. There are over 70 Aboriginal organizations in Winnipeg and many of them (Ka Ni Kanichihk; Native Women's Transition Centre; Children of the Earth High School; Urban Circle Training Centre, for example) are creating transformative spaces for the Aboriginal population.

There are also a large number of government and non-governmental organizations that respond to the needs of immigrants and refugees (e.g. African Communities Association; Islamic Social Services Association; Manitoba Somali Association; Black Youth Help Line; Philippines Association of Manitoba; Immigrant Women's Association of Manitoba). Many are supported by different levels of governments and have emerged to advocate for immigrants' and refugees' rights and services, and the mobilization of these organizations exerts continuous pressure on governments. With the increase in the number of refugees and immigrants we have witnessed the strength of ethnic CBOs and their umbrella associations that are involved in the provision of services to newcomers.

As a whole, these CBOs have been creative and effective despite underfunding. The movement to local governance has provided a range of important public services. But this new state-society relation could be bad news for both government and democracy, as governments relegate their responsibilities to diverse organizations that continuously struggle for their survival and face an uncertain future.

Layers of Separations: A House Divided

Despite the growth of innovative and successful CBOs, the following narratives show that inner-city residents are marginalized, face racista, live in isolation and lead 'parallel lives' with little contact to the majority society. There exist many layers of separation.

Isolation and lack of interaction between groups are common problems for newcomers. Dada (5) says: "it is so hard to make connection here"; Ron states: "I miss the sense of community and living together ... there is no way you live in Africa without knowing your neighbour ... the first difficulty for me is loneliness, to be honest." Paul complains: "one of the hardest things is to make friends here. It is something different here ... People are reserved." Afsoon's experience is typical and speaks to the existing divide between groups: "we are in Canada; I know Canada is multicultural, but we do not know Canada, I only socialize with people from my own community." Betsy, a service provider, expresses the reality of many: "these different groups stick to their own communities. I do not see meaningful interaction between Aboriginals and newcomers."

Lack of knowledge, information, awareness, and connection are a shared thread among various groups. Jane, an Aboriginal service provider states: "by and large, Aboriginal people do not know about newcomers"; Molly, another service provider says: "newcomers do not know about Aboriginal people and their history." Mose, a refugee from Sudan, complains: "there is lack of cultural understanding ... newcomers do not know about Canada, its politics and culture." Don states that: "lower income newcomers are being housed in places where a large percentage is Aboriginal ... with very little knowledge of each other."

Construction of the 'other' as inferior and in need of improvement is deeply affecting how Aboriginal people are presented to the outside world. Laura's view when talking about Aboriginal people is that: "racism is as thick as the problem of environment." Betsy, an Aboriginal person, states: "the mainstream is racist and sees Aboriginals as a drain." The colonial, stigmatized, and stereotyped view of Aboriginal people is transferred to the newcomers. Zaman's experience is typical: "when I first came to Winnipeg, I heard a lot of negative stuff about Aboriginal people such as: they are lazy, they expect everything to be handed to them, etc." Newcomers told us over and over that: "there are lots of negative words out there about Aboriginal people." Nima, an immigrant, is aware of how Aboriginal people are constructed as the 'other': "it is true that as soon as you hear Aboriginal you automatically think stereotype ... it is not fair." Maria accepted the colonial view of Aboriginal people and believes: "Government helps Aboriginals to be in the street, by supporting them." Anan, a refugee, thinks: "Aboriginals have lots of opportunities, but do not use it."

Many participants are worried that Canadians, in general, do not have much knowledge of their varied cultures. Ron, a refugee, states that Africans are seen as "those who come from a desert country with everyone who lives in mud house." Laura, an educated service provider states: "most Canadians do not know about other places such as Asia, Middle East or Africa."

Racism is a daily experience of many participants. Nazanin, a female immigrant, states: "I have to compensate for wearing hijab ... I feel I am not accepted the way I am ... I see this as a form of racism and exclusion." Zaman, a male refugee, says "I try not to take discrimination personally ... but there are lots of stereotypes about Muslims." Shirley, a service provider, believes: "the darker your skin, the more racism you experience." Camille expresses the views of many: "I see a lot of racism especially by police ... Aboriginals and people of colour are over-policed. Police is biased towards Aboriginals and black people." Anan, a refugee thinks: "police takes advantage of newcomers and their lack of the knowledge of the place."

The fear of the unknown is expressed by a number of people. In the words of Zarif, a community worker: "more and more newcomers are coming to Manitoba, the Aboriginal people are going to be marginalized because more attention of the government is going towards these newcomers." Hassan, a service provider and a refugee himself, believes: "there is a lot of stereotypes about Aboriginals, Africans, Middle Eastern people ... there is a lot of fear among our clients." A number of service providers expressed that their newcomer clients: "have fear of the inner city ... they fear the drugs and the gangs." Louise expresses what she thinks is common around her: "why do we need to look after these people that are coming from different lands. We are not helping our own people in our own back yard first." Judy, an Aboriginal inner-city resident, states: "overall Aboriginals are accepting newcomers, but they have suspicion, fear and stereotypes.... There is a perception that they are coming here to benefit from what Canadian society has here." Alex believes "Aboriginals do not know and do not understand immigration ... some are afraid of new people and it is about the scarce resources." Camille who works with both Aboriginal people and newcomers states: "this is an alienated neighbourhood ... people are afraid of each other ... they live in the same building, but have no connection." Larry, an inner-city resident, is concerned that "there is much immigrant culture coming ... Asians are taking over."

The voices heard above underline the existence of layers of separation: between marginalized and mainstream; within and between groups; and between Aboriginal people and newcomers. The issues are inter-related and are warning signs of emerging problems. "A multiethnic city with few connections across ethnic boundaries can be very vulnerable to ethnic disorder and violence" (Varshney 2002, 15). Social exclusion, isolation and segregation are signs of societal fracturing through which mistrust, stereotypes, and division are manifested.

Beyond Multiculturalism

Canada has always been a multi-ethnic country and multiculturalism defines the country's identity in the eyes of the world. In Canada multiculturalism, by emphasizing the unique characteristics of different cultures, has fostered separate cultural identities, each with their own art centres, places of worship, communities, and social clubs and so on. This is cause for celebration, bur it is problematic, if it has not created cohesion, intercultural knowledge and intercultural connectedness. Social cohesion represents the absence of exclusion, isolation, and marginalization (Jenson 1998). Facing exclusion and marginalization, participants are telling us that in Winnipeg's inner city, multiculturalism has not resulted in bringing various groups together, expanding their knowledge of each other, and integrating them as equal partners in the Canadian society. Integration only works when Canada both recognizes differences and extends complete equality to various ethnic groups. Celebrating diversity, bur ignoring inequality, inevitably leads to the danger of entrenched segregation. There is a significant leap from multicultural rhetoric at the level of national politics and legal frameworks, to what happens in the streets and neighbourhoods of Winnipeg's inner city and other Canadian cities (Galabuzi 2006).

At the hegemonic level, Canada is represented as a model for the world (Adams 2007) and a place where we do not have such problems: the fear of social and religious minorities in Switzerland; raging battles over veiled Muslim women in France; riots in the Northern half of England in 2001, and in Birmingham in 2005; anti-immigration rallies in Italy; violence and demonstrations in Paris in 2005; and the Party For Freedom in Netherland. However, the experiences of participants in this study and the existence of racial discrimination in Canadian cities speak to the contrary (Galabuzi 2006). With the growing diversity, many Canadians are concerned that existing national identities are being threatened and are at risk of being replaced by new ones (Mansur 2009:205).

Although the majority of Canadians support immigration and believe diversity has enriched their cities (6), there are indications that mainstream Canadians are alarmed that immigrants may change the 'Canadian way of life' (Jimenez 2007). Former Quebec Premier Bernard Landry, decrying the fact that immigrants and Anglophones now outnumber French students in Montreal area schools, recently called for the provincial government to modify Bill 101 so as to restrict access to English colleges for recent immigrants (PatriQuin 2009, 32). There are recurring conflicts and violence in major Canadian cities: a demonstration in Toronto in the summer of 2000 that ended in violence; heated controversy over Sharia law in Ontario in 2005; the 'rules for newcomers' in Herouxville (7); and the controversial debate over "reasonable accommodation" in Quebec (Bouchard and Taylor 2008) (8). More recently, a Fraser Institute's publication on immigration adds to these fearful voices. Grubel (2009) sees immigrants as a huge cost and states that recent immigration "is challenging the country's existing national identity, culture, and social fabric". He adds that recent immigrants have a "relatively high crime rate." He finds it worrisome that newcomers have retained their loyalty to their native countries (2009: xxiii, xvii and xx). Stephen Gallagher (2009,185), one of the contributors to this edited publication, believes that "the existence of Canada as a unified nation is threatened." Jason Kenney (2009), Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism, promotes a fixed Canadian identity and states: "we want people to be Canadian first and foremost-to be proud of and maintain their own tradition and heritage, but not at the price of their developing their Canadian identity."

The above examples of hegemonic images of an unchanging 'Canadian identity' uphold the normative expectation of conformity. The idea that a fixed and predefined community is good and even necessary is central to the attitudes of both multiculturalism and assimilation (Li 2003; Weinfeld 2004). This does not promote interaction and dialogue among various groups, nor does it address the inequalities that face marginalized groups (Li 2003; Stoffman 2009). Many ethnic leaders have come to realize that in our efforts to define ourselves or others as members of pre-defined 'communities', we have locked large numbers of people into the prison house of identity. Grayling (2009) accurately states that those with multiple identities live closer to fulfilment of their human potential; something is denied or compromised by imprisonment in a single over-riding identity, whether the imprisonment is imposed or chosen. A great many newcomers have stated that they have come to Canada to escape the confines of a culture, not to be forced into one. All, in different ways, have

stated that they are happy and grateful to be in Canada, but they question the notion of a fixed Canadian identity and their unequal position within Canada. They have a critical view of multiculturalism, Canada, and its political and economic reality. Ron, who came from Sudan, states: "from overseas, we hear about Canada and right away we think about a kind of paradise ... however, my reality is different here. I never thought it will be so hard for me here." Yasin says: "the government brings us here and is not able to use our skill." Bev, an experienced service provider reiterates the same concern: "I have a question about the Provincial Nominee Program. They bring skilled people here and they cannot find jobs." Robert, an immigrant, believes: "only on paper Canada is multicultural ... I do not see various cultures represented everywhere." Nazanin came with high expectations to Canada and was not ready to face the concentration of poverty in Winnipeg's inner city: "I could not believe it ... it was like we did not have any idea of these issues ... on every street there was someone begging ... it was just blatant and racist ... I could not believe that this was a developed country." These voices touch one of the central issues of debate in the area of immigration. That is, if a society accepts the value of immigration, would it at the same time accept the value of including the newcomers as equal members and citizens? The narratives of the participants suggest that this is not necessarily so.

The mainstream's growing concern about the 'Canadian identity and way of life' combined with social exclusion, marginalization, isolation and lack of intercultural linkages have left deep marks on local spaces in Canadian cities, including the inner city of Winnipeg. Haroon Siddiqui (2009) is right to state that "Our knowledge of many communities among us is primitive ... And, we are loath to admit, we do treat different groups differently, depending on their place in the societal hierarchy. We bow to the establishment, insult the marginalized."

Diversity and Interculturalism

The experiences of participants in the inner city of Winnipeg guide us to turn our focus from multiculturalism to what I term interculturalism. Interculturalism is about inclusion versus exclusion, belonging versus isolation, engagement versus marginalization, and is about everyone. It is about the connectedness of different cultures, not just their presence within our society. Interculturalism does not recognize cultural boundaries as fixed, bur sees them in a constant state of flux and remaking. Integration--cultural, economic, political, legal and intercultural--is a constituent element of interculturalism and thus a process involving both immigrants and the receiving society. Interculturalism is about the active construction of new ways of living together (Sandercock 2004). This demands creating what Ley (1999) refers to as 'multicultural readiness', and can be developed through intercultural dialogue, integrated education, communication and learning from different cultures. It requires directing resources to intercultural projects which build bridges between fragments, and produce something new out of the multicultural patchwork of our cities.

Inter-ethnic relationships and inter-cultural knowledge can be stimulated in an 'open-minded' way. We need a new vision that begins to transcend and bridge the separations that divide us, and that enables us to learn about each other and work on an inclusive, shared agenda. Contact, in itself, between individuals from different 'communities' does not necessarily lead to greater mutual understanding. 'Cultural hybridization' requires meaningful and repeated contact, the experience of working, being and living with others, the everyday fusion of cultures in what we see and consume, where we travel, play, and socialize. This demanding representation points to the importance of civic networks as channels of repeated inter-cultural dialogues. Civic networks, unions, business, sports clubs, the arts, integrated education, community organizations and so on, are antidotes to ethnic conflict (Varshney 2002).

Interculturalism is not a one-way street to cultural self assertion by groups, but requires a dialogue between cultures, as Habermas (2004) and other theorists of deliberative democracy have stressed. The co-existence of diverse life forms as equal demands the integration of all citizens within the framework of shared political culture. There is a need for inter-cultural education--for the majority as well as minorities. Laura, an Aboriginal service provider, is correct to state: "not just newcomers need education; Canadians who have been here for over 150 years need it." Many participants interviewed in this research project were critical of how service providers interacted with them and stressed the need to "educate the educators."

Fortunately some groups are aware of the importance of intercultural dialogue, but they are in the minority. For example, a minority of teachers that we have interviewed for another project found storytelling and other innovative ways to promote inter-cultural dialogue and inter-cultural knowledge among learners. The University of Winnipeg's interest in community learning is another example (Axworthy 2009) that deserves our critical attention. Ka Ni Kanichihk is an example of a community-based Aboriginal organization that tries to promote dialogue and inter-cultural understanding between Aboriginal people and newcomers. Another promising case is what community members have achieved in and around Central Park. This densely populated area in downtown Winnipeg is home to many ethnic groups, including Arabs, Vietnamese, Chinese, Ojibwa, Filipino, and African (more than half being African). With the increase in the African population, Central Park has been transforming itself in recent years. During the summer it is the home of 'Central Market', a weekly market that brings different groups together and gives them a chance to get to know each other. It creates an intercultural space. These examples are hopeful signs, but we need rigorous efforts that penetrate all aspects of city residents' daily lives, both at individual and structural levels, and that create spaces where people connect across the divides of difference.

The answers to the questions that this paper raises are not easy. The interculturalism lens can be used to develop policies and tackle the key issues that are identified in this study. The tensions between newcomers and Aboriginal people require special attention. Government and citizens, regardless of their ethnic origin, in 'helping' newcomers to adjust to Canadian society, must shift their focus from differences, to what we have in common and how we can learn from each other. It is creating such links--this "glue" between communities--that can bind us as a great city. It is certain that this task cannot be left just to governments' centralized, top-down approaches that ignore local voices, devalue community and do not build places and neighborhoods that are the foundation for a democratic city in this global age.

There is a need to move from the era of centralized government to one of democratic governance (Andrew and Goldsmith 1998). Democratic governance, the pillar of interculturalism, requires multidimensional strategies and policies involving all levels of governments, especially at the municipal level, and civil society, including newcomers and Aboriginal people. These policies must cover a wide range of issues, promoting social inclusion as well as inter-cultural communication.

Without democratic governance and a new vision, it may be that the present tension among groups will be the forerunners of future reality in our cities. If the challenges that a multi-ethnic city pose are not addressed, there will not only be negative consequences, but we will also perpetuate exclusionary cultures and discourses in ways that marginalize a significant proportion of cities' populations.

Cities have priorities, and the direction that a city takes is a choice. The willingness of Winnipeg to welcome its diverse population, and how to encourage and create the means not only for their full involvement, but also our mutual, cultural transformation, will be a measure of the city's commitment to human equality and human dignity--a fitting goal in a city that will host a Human Rights Museum.


I thank Lynne Fernandez, Claire Reid, and Laurie Wilkinson for their comments on an earlier version of this paper. I am especially grateful to Jim Silver and the two anonymous reviewers for their comments and suggestions. Thanks to Zeeba Loxley for her initial support. I am indebted to a large number of students for their participation in various parts of this research. Above all, I am obliged to the participants whose stories and experiences allowed me to conduct this research and enrich our knowledge.


Abu-Leban, Y. and C. Gabriel 2002. Selling Diversity: Immigration, Multiculturalism, Employment Equity, and Globalization. Peterborough: Broadview Press.

Adams, M. 2007. Unlikely Utopia: The Surprising Triumph of Canadian Pluralism. Toronto: Viking Canada.

Andrew, C., and M. Goldsmith. 1988. From Local Government to Local Governance -and Beyond? International Political Science Review 19 (2): 101-17.

Axworthy, L. 2009. The University and Community Learning. Keynote address to Canadian Club. Fort Garry Hotel. Winnipeg. November 27. At: www.uwinnipeg.ca

Bannerji, H. 2000. Dark Side of the Nation: Essays in Multiculturalism, Nationalism and Gender. Toronto: Canadian Scholars' Press Inc.

Bissoondath, N. 1994. Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada. Toronto: Penguin.

Bouchard, Gerard, and Charles Taylor. 2008. Building the Future: A Time for Reconciliation. Abridged Report of the Consultation Commission on Accommodation Practices Related to Cultural Differences. Government of Quebec.

Canada, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Research and Evaluation Branch (CIC-REB) 2007. Facts and Figures: Immigration Overview Permanent Residents and Temporary Residents 2006.

City of Winnipeg, Neighbourhood Profile. 2006 Census Data. at: http://winnipeg.ca/census/2006/

Galabuzi, G. 2006. Canada's Economic Apartheid: The Social Exclusion of Racialized Groups in the New Century. Toronto: Canadian Scholar's Press

Gallagher, S. 2009. The creation of a global suburb and its impact on Canadian national unity. In The Effects of Mass Immigration on Canadian Living Standards and Society, ed. H. Grubel. Vancouver: The Fraser Institute.

Grayling, A. C. 2009. Liberty in the Age of Terror: A Defence of Civil Society and Enlightenment Values. London: Bloomsbury Publishing.

Grubel, H. ed. 2009. The Effects of Mass Immigration on Canadian Living Standards and Society. Vancouver: The Fraser Institute.

Habermas, J. 2004. Religious Tolerance-The Pacemaker for Cultural Rights. Philosophy 79:5-18.

Jenson, J. 1998. Mapping Social Cohesion: The State of Canadian Research. Ottawa: Canadian Policy Research Network, Study No. F/03.

International Organization for Migration (IOM) 2009 and 2010. http://www.iom.int/jahia/Jahia/about-migration/ facts-and-figures/global-estimates-and-trends.

Jimenez, M. 2007. When Multi Morphs into Plural: Cultures can be sorted out; The Hard Part is Getting Ahead. Globe and Mail, 8 December, A25.

Kenney, J. 2009. Speaking notes for the Honourable Jason Kenney, P.C., M.P. Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism at the Eleventh National Metropolis Conference. Calgary. Match 20.

Kymlicka, W. 1988. Finding Our Ways: Rethinking Ethnocultural Relations in Canada. Toronto: Oxford University Press.

Ley, D. 1999. Myths and Meanings of Immigration and the Metropolis. The Canadian Geographer/Le Geographe Canadien 43 (1): 2-12.

Li, P. 2003. Deconstructing Canada's Discourse on Immigration Integration. Working paper no, WP0403. Prairie Centre for Exellence.

Manitoba Immigration Facts. 2006. Statistical Report. Manitoba Labour and Immigration: Immigration, Settlement and Multiculturalism Division.

Manitoba Immigration Facts. 2007. Statistical Report. Manitoba Labour and Immigration: Immigration, Settlement and Multiculturalism Division.

Manitoba Labour and immigration. 2007. Immigration up 23 per cent over 2005 to highest Level in 50 years: Allan. News Release. January 18.

Mansur, Salim. 2009. Immigration and multiculturalism undermine culture and security in Canada. In The Effects of Mass Immigration on Canadian Living Standards and Society, ed. H. Grubel. Vancouver: The Fraser Institute.

Patriquin, M. 2009. Montreal is a Disaster. Maclean's. Nov. 9: 28-32.

Sandercock, L. 2004. Sustaining Canada's Multicultural Cities: Learning from the Local. Breakfast on the Hill Seminar series, http://www.fedcala.ca/english/pdf/fromold/breakfast-sandercock0204.pdf.

Sanders, C. 2005. Trauma Often Follows Refugees in Winnipeg. Can West News 25 April.

Siddiqui, H. 2009. Media Failing Multicultural Societies. The Toronto Star. May 3.

Silver, J. 2008. The Inner City of Saskatoon and Winnipeg: A New and Distinctive Form of Development. Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Manitoba and Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Saskatchewan.

Staff Writer. 2009. Switzerland's Bad Example. Winnipeg Free Press. 2/12. A 14.

Statistics Canada. 2006. Immigration and Citizenship, 2006 Census.

Statistics Canada. 2007. The Daily, December 4. http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/071204/dq071204a-eng.htm

Stoffman, D. 2009. An Ideology, Not a Fact: Canada is multicultural and the U.S. has a melting pot, but assimilation rates are the same in both countries. The Globe and Mail. August 22. A 11.

Varsheney, A. 2002. Ethnic Conflict and Civic Life: Hindus and Muslims in India. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Weinfeld, M. 2004. Canadian Diversity-Soft and Hard-in a Post 9/11 and Post Saddam World. Gibsons Jessop Gallery. Toronto. May 18.

Parvin Ghorayshi

Department of Sociology

University of Winnipeg


(1) In recent years, Canada has also seen a major net growth in its population of temporary residents, which includes temporary workers and foreign students. From 1996 to 2006 the number grew from 272,986 to 487,699 (CIC-REB, 2007: 65).

(2) In Manitoba, the number of foreign temporary workers more than doubled from 1,426 in 2003 to 2,878 (MB Immigration Facts 2007).

(3) Please note that all the figures for the city of Winnipeg, including the inner city, are calculated from the city of Winnipeg's neighborhood profile that is based on Census data.

(4) Census data distinguish Aboriginal Ancestry from the Aboriginal identity population. There are 63,740 people in the latter category (City of Winnipeg 2006). I use data for Aboriginal Ancestry in this paper.

(5) I use pseudonyms to protect the identity of the interviewees.

(6) Urban Canadians and Quality of Life in The City: Environics Survey, Commissioned by the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation in collaboration with the Global Cities Program and the Cities Centre at the University of Toronto.

(7) (http://www.nowpublic.com/culture/ quebec-town-herouxville-stands-itsimmigration-policy); and (http://herouxville-quebec.blogspot.com/
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.