Canada is a very diverse nation, both in terms of culture and ethnicity. One of the policy responses by the government to this growing diversity was making multiculturalism official in the early 1970s. While to this day, multiculturalism has been official for almost 40 years, it is still a highly debated topic. Indigenous law, immigration and refugee law stand at the forefront of the controversy regarding multicultural laws.
Central to the multiculturalism policy in the early 1970s was the official recognition of diverse cultures. Not only was equity guaranteed, but different ethnic groups were encouraged to retain their cultural traditions and languages instead of assimilating into mainstream society. In support of this idea, the government not only made multiculturalism official, but also established cultural programs, as well as anti-discriminatory policies using their own budget. However, it is important to note that while the multiculturalism policy does technically include Aboriginal peoples, the emphasis has been on new immigrants. It is this emphasis which has brought about the controversial issues, and by extension new laws to protect them.
Although the Canadian Multiculturalism Act was passed by the federal government, there has been significant development in this area at the provincial level. For example, Nova Scotia passed their own Multiculturalism act in 1989.