Policy and legislation concerning multiculturalism

In 1971, Canada became the first country in the world to adopt a Multiculturalism Policy. Canada’s approach to diversity has evolved over the years and is embedded within a broad policy and legislative framework.


  • 1947: Passage of the first ever Canadian Citizenship Act
  • 1960: Passage of the Canadian Bill of Rights
  • 1963: Establishment of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism
  • 1969: Book IV of the Bilingualism and Biculturalism Commission Report emphasizes the bilingual and multicultural nature of Canada
  • 1969: Introduction of the Official Languages Act
  • 1971: Introduction of Canada’s Multiculturalism Policy
  • 1977: Passage of the Canadian Human Rights Act
  • 1982: Adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  • 1984: Special Parliamentary Committee Report, Equality Now, calls for a Multiculturalism Act and establishment of a national research institute on multiculturalism and race relations issues
  • 1986: Passage by Parliament of the Employment Equity Act
  • 1988: Passage of the Canadian Multiculturalism Act
  • 1996: Government establishes the Canadian Race Relations Foundation
  • 1997: Renewed Multiculturalism Program announced


  • 1948: The International Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide
  • 1948: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • 1958: The International Convention concerning Discrimination in Respect of Employment and Occupation
  • 1965: The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Canadian ratification in 1969)
  • 1966: The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (Canadian ratification in 1976)
  • 1966: The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Canadian ratification in 1976)


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