Mutual Accommodation
Open Hot Topic

Mutual Accommodation: A Better Way of Doing Things?

1 open discussion • Led by Heather Nicol


Let’s discuss one of the most profound facets of the Canadian experience – mutual accommodation. At key moments in Canada’s past, the need to accommodate difference – between Canadians, with our neighbours, and with our northern geography – has been central to national survival and success. Yet there have also been key failures, instances where the triumph of a certain idea of Canada has negated the needs and hopes of those who live here. What lessons can we learn from the successes and... read more
Expert Insights
Acting Director of the School for the Study of Canada, Trent University

The idea of mutual accommodations is always tricky in Canada. While critics have pointed out that we are not as multicultural as we think, there is no doubt that the politics of accommodation in Canada have a distinctive history. As an educator and a political geographer, I understand how volatile, yet enduring, social constructions of “othering” can be. Throughout history Canadians have chosen scapegoats: be they French, Jewish, Irish, Aboriginal, Southern or Eastern European, East Asian, South Asian, and now increasingly Muslim. Many saw in the acceptance and accommodation of these new Canadians a challenge to some kind of normative “Canadianess”. But others were more accepting and, although late in the day, the goal of diversity has fed an appetite for ensuring that such accommodations continue. Indeed, Chris Dummitt suggests, only recently has, ‘the idea of Canada’ has seen the incorporation of increasing diverse narratives about who Canadians might be and about the value of this diversity.

Although mutual accommodation in Canada has a mixed history it is not impossible. This is why the kinds of discussions we engage in here matter. If we agree that being ‘Canadian’ does not endow us with a predetermined gene for multicultural equanimity and mutual accommodation, and if we agree that mutual accommodation should be a ‘Canadian value’, then we need to work very hard to achieve it. This means challenging our existing gloss of Canada as a welcoming and diverse country and seeing the cracks as well as the successes. So I challenge us, in this discussion, to construct a critical and yet more an inclusive way of engaging with multiculturalism and diversity.

Back to Discussions Resources & News Articles

The following resources and news articles are key to a good understanding of the subjects being discussed - as identified by the numbered chat bubbles shown below. We encourage you to review them.

Total Resources (5)
For Discussions
Who comes first: Syrian refugees or First Nations?
Published: October 14, 2016 • • 0 DR
Stuart McLean: Laughter, Tears and the Soul of Our Country (in Culture)
Published: February 16, 2017 • • 0 DR
Multiculturalism: Success, Failure, and the Future
Added: February 22, 2017 • Author: Will Kymlicka • 0 DR
Interculturalism or Multiculturalism?
Added: February 22, 2017 • Author: Charles Taylor • 0 DR
Back to Overview & Expert Insights
Poll Results
How is Mutual Accommodation best achieved?
A: Government policy (ex. multiculturalism) 10%
B: Law (ex. anti-discrimination) 0%
C: Daily/regular interactions among people 33%
D: A combination of the above 57%


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