The issue of the existence of Canadian culture is highly debatable. Some scholars state that Canada does not have its own culture, as its proximity to the United States leads to the Canadian mirroring of the American culture, which helps artists from Canada to be represented in the American market (Harrison, 2015). By contrast, other researchers argue that Canada has its unique culture related both to the regions of Canada as well as to its mixed English and French cultural heritage added by the influence of the cultures of more recent immigrants. Thus, nowadays the cultural life of Canada is characterized by the existence of the theory of Canadian mosaic and the concept of multiculturalism associated with the ideas of cultural pluralism and bilingualism. In turn, this lays the ground for considering Canada the country, which has its own culture. Therefore, Canadian culture is a unique set of interrelated cultures represented by two dominant groups, namely the cultures of native people along with other immigrants, and some aspects of American culture.
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With regard to the theory of Canadian mosaic, it should be indicated that before the emergence of Canada as a state its land was inhibited by the indigenous people who had their own languages, religions, customs and arts. When the first explorers from France arrived in Canada in 16th century, they brought their culture and traditions, which in the following years were introduced by the influence of British culture (Kalman, 2010). Given the size of Canada, it is not surprisingly that many regional subcultures created their unique ways of thinking, attitudes and belief. Hence, this led to the emergence of the theory of Canadian mosaic, which relates to the cultural and ethnic diversity of the particular country. According to this theory, Canada has four initial cultural groups, which constituted it as a state (Kelley, 2010). They include two founding cultures, namely the Anglo-Saxon culture, which is subdivided in English, Scots, Welsh and Irish, and more congenerical French culture. In addition to the cultures of the abovementioned nations, Canadian culture is also enriched by one of its natives and other ethnic groups that emigrated to Canada in 19-20th centuries (Vollman, 2017). Thus, Canadian culture encompassed not only European, but also Asian, Central and South American, Near Eastern and African cultures, which greatly influenced the Canadian theater, architecture, art, and music. However, in 20th century most cultural communities in Canada were assimilated or integrated (Vollman, 2017). The French group was struggling for its cultural rights, which, in turn, caused the necessity of establishing the policy of multiculturalism.
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Multiculturalism in Canada
Concerning the relations between the English and French groups, sociologists suggested the following forms of their existence: integration, assimilation and accommodation. The policy of multiculturalism was based on the concept of accommodation, which was recognized as the most appropriate form of coexistence of different cultures, as it helped to avoid conflicts. As the Canadian culture consists of different cultural and religious traditions, the notion of multiculturalism constituted the best way of coexistence of cultures in the country. The idea of cultural pluralism is similar to the concept of multiculturalism and generally reflects the policy adopted by the Government of Canada with relation to the existence of a great amount of cultural and religious backgrounds as well as the so-called visible minorities. Regarding multiculturalism, it should be mentioned that the federal policy of multiculturalism in Canada was established in 1971 (Vollman, 2017). Its primary goal was to allow nationals to choose their cultural life freely. Besides, this strategy was introduced together with the policy of bilingualism and was intended to overcome nationalism in Quebec and to appease emigrants from other states. Hence, in the following years the Multiculturalism Directorate was created, which promoted many programs directed at supporting ethnic groups helping them to preserve their local customs, traditions and languages in order to keep the multicultural nature of the Canadian society (Vollman, 2017). Lately the policy of multiculturalism became the instrument of dealing with the problems posed by the increased racial diversity. Thus, it had the purpose to achieve racial harmony and racial equality in the community. Despite the attractiveness of the idea of multiculturalism, the cultural policy in Quebec focuses more on the concept of interculturalism, the main point of which consists in the suggestion that the diversity should be encouraged within the framework of recognizing French as the public language.
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Influence of the United States
In addition to the already mentioned effects on the Canadian culture, it can be said that the culture of the United States also had the great impact on the given culture. Therefore, thanks to the free flow of information between the countries, the Canadians adopted many aspects of American culture, primarily in terms of music, television, cinema and fashion (Kalman, 2010). Moreover, the Canadians were among the largest donors to the stations of the American public television (Thompson, 2016). In view of the necessity to support Canadian culture for the latter not to become the copy of the American one, it was recognized by the government that Canadian identity had to be protected on the national level. Thus, the authorities began to grant money to institutions as well as businesses engaged in protecting and promoting the national culture. Among the measures intended to protect Canadian culture, the concept of Canadian Content is worth being outlined. The idea of Canadian Content presents the requirements to the radio and television elaborated by the Broadcasting Act of Canada (Thompson, 2016). The demands involve the commitment of the radio and television broadcasters to air a certain part of content, which was contributed by the Canadians. Generally, Canadian Content is defined by a complicated formula that indicates whether the products were made by the Canadian citizens. Although the exact quotas change and depend on the political party in power, radio stations usually have to devote 30% of the airtime to the Canadian music, and the television must dedicate the same amount of time to air the Canadian films and programs (Thompson, 2016).
In this regard, the governmental actions relate also to financing of Canadian programming, implementation of the new policy for the local television, which makes certain amount of hours per week filled with the Canadian content. However, there are different views among scholars on the necessity of such a policy. Supporters of neo-liberal concept of market argue that the regulations imposed by the Canadian government, for example, those connected with the activity of the Canadian Radio and Television Commission lead to the limitation of choice and the proliferation of averageness in the cultural life (Harrison, 2015). Providing the economic reasons, they indicate that usually Canadian artists can easily find their place in the US market, as such individuals can pass as Americans while at the same time the products of those artists whose content is Canadian are not so popular in the United States. Furthermore, they state that public television and radio make people pay for things, which are not demanded by the market that in general hinders the activity of private business in the state. Nonetheless, their opponents adhere to the point that such organizations as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation together with the National Film Board and cultural subsidies are directed at supporting the national artists who should have more opportunities to compete with the American mass-market sound (Harrison, 2015). Therefore, many Canadians realize the unique character of their culture and value its distinctive products.
Canadian Cultural Heritage
Within the framework of the cultural artistic heritage of Canada, such spheres as art and literature can be mentioned. In the realm of the visual art, Canada is known worldwide due to the contribution of its most prominent artists, namely The Group of Seven, which managed to present landscapes of the country in a new perspective with the primary accent on the wildercentrism and symbolism of the natural world (O’Brian, 2014). Concerning the recent tendencies of Canadian art, it can be indicated that many artists began to emphasize the Asian roots of modern aspects of life in Canada in view of Canadas belonging to the Pacific Ocean basin, which creates the unique culture based on the values of the European and Asian identities. As for the literature of Canada, from the 1960s onwards, the state has arrived at the center of world literature process. Numerous Canadian authors regularly appear on the international bestseller lists; moreover, Atwood, Martel and Ondaatje even won the Man Booker Prize in one decade (Nischik, 2013). In comparison to the literature of the United States, Canadian literature was more focused on postcolonial, multicultural, feminist and ecological themes.
In conclusion, Canada indeed has its own unique culture established on the cultures of dominant English and French groups as well as on the cultures of indigenous people and immigrants. Due to the great influence of the United States, the Canadian government has taken steps directed at protecting Canadian culture that were expressed in the policy of implementing the program of Canadian content. In order to preserve the cultural diversity of Canada, the concepts of multiculturalism and Canadian mosaic were elaborated. Therefore, nowadays, Canadian culture successfully combines the elements of different cultural traditions, which helps the country to create its own distinct culture.