Police & Society Issue: 7 Dated: April 2003 Pages: 13-47
This article reviews the challenges and accomplishments of the Canadian police as they attempt to police a multicultural society.
Canada’s demographic profile has changed radically during the past 40 years, first with an influx of European immigrants in the 1950’s and 1960’s, followed by immigrants from Far Eastern and Caribbean countries throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s. In contrast to other countries that have encouraged an assimilationist approach to a multi-ethnic and multicultural society, Canadian officials have adopted “multiculturalism” as its policy toward immigrants. Multiculturalism favors the preservation of uniquely ethnic and cultural identities. Such a diverse community presents special challenges to the Canadian police, especially the urban public police. The author describes the efforts of the Canadian police over the past 30 years to overcome such challenges. Of particular interest is the way in which the police have responded to the needs of Canada’s Aboriginal or “First Nations” peoples, whose place within Canadian society is constitutionally protected. Despite the protections afforded them, the social and economic circumstances of the Aboriginal peoples have placed them in consistent conflict with the law and with police. In conclusion, the author posits that although Canadian police have risen to the challenge of policing a multicultural society, many of their efforts and initiatives have been met with limited success. Many of the problems associated with a multicultural society are beyond the purview of the police and involve underlying problems of intolerance and discrimination. Notes, references
Date Published: April 1, 2003