Canada has been experiencing a significant change in its population make up over the past 20 years and is truly becoming a multi cultural landscape, and no more so than in its large urban centers. Forecasts project that the visible minority will be the visible majority in Toronto and Vancouver by 2017.
While this shift has slowly taken place over time, policing has remained a predominantly white male profession. However, things are changing in that regard and although slower than the national population trends, police agencies are working hard to reach out to the various ethnic communities to encourage their young people to seriously consider policing as a career.
This presents many challenges as some ethnic groups do not consider policing as a viable career choice or have a lack of trust based on experience from their home country, where the police may have been corrupt and aggressive. There is a need for each of us to truly embrace diversity if we are to meet and overcome our future challenges together.
Visible minorities, women and First Nations citizens are applying and being hired at a rate that is changing the face of the policing mosaic. It is critical that Canada’s police agencies are not only representative of all ethnic groups that make up our national population, but also that they are aware of, understand, and respect each of these groups and their cultural practices and beliefs.
Police agencies and related training institutions in Canada are actively involved in educating their officers in cultural practices and race relations issues to support better understanding and to strengthen relationships with the broader Canadian community. One such institute is the Ontario Police College who established their Race Relations and Adult Education unit in 1992. Information on their web site includes a monthly calendar highlighting ethnic, cultural and interfaith celebrations and other prominent dates, in their Diversity at Work Series.
One thing is certain, and that is that Canada will continue to be an ever-more diverse society as we move into the future. We must continue to embrace diversity and foster values of tolerance and better understanding in all our citizens, and maintain Canada’s leadership role as one of the most harmonious cultural and ethnically diverse countries in the world, an example for others to follow.
(Source: Canada at a Glance—Diversity, Spring 2006, Government of Canada)
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