Understandings of Multiculturalism Among Students in a Multicultural Prairie City
Summary of Research Project.
This project examines the views of University of Regina students concerning their understanding of and attitudes toward multiculturalism in Canada. In the Fall, 1998 semester a survey of University of Regina undergraduates was conducted as part of Social Studies 306, Applied Methods: Quantitative Approaches. These data, along with some interviews and focus groups will be presented in a report. The project began in July, 1998 and is expected to be completed in December, 1999. The research proposal follows.
If you have any questions or suggestions concerning this project,
please contact Paul Gingrich at
Section 1: Project Proposal
Purpose: The purpose of the project is to investigate
the views of university students at the University of Regina with
respect to multiculturalism and ethnic diversity. The students'
attitudes toward visible minorities and concerning policies and
practices that attempt to remove barriers to the full participation
of ethnic minorities in Canadian society will be studied. The
project will also examine and analyze the connection between these
attitudes and views and the ethnic background and experiences
of the students.
The stated aims of the Multiculturalism Act, along with the three
newly stated fundamental goals of the redesigned Multiculturalism
Program (identity, civic participation, social justice) will provide
the focus for the project. In a previous study (Appendices B
and C), I examined the understanding of multiculturalism among
refugees who immigrated to Regina. Last year, in a survey of
undergraduate University of Regina students (Appendix D), I investigated
the extent of understanding of and agreement with the policies
stated in Section 3 of the Multiculturalism Act. The current
project will refine and extend these earlier studies. Perhaps
more important will be an extension of these earlier studies to
incorporate the newly stated goals of identity, civic participation,
and social justice. While these goals are implicit in the Act,
the redesigned program shifts the emphasis of multicultural policy
somewhat. This project will examine the extent to which there
is awareness of this shift and the extent to which students agree
or disagree with the newly stated goals. Further, this project
will solicit views with respect to multicultural policies and
programs, looking for degrees of agreement or disagreement with
current practice, as well as suggestions for revision of policies
The project will have several stages. First, there will be a
survey of undergraduate students at the University of Regina.
This will be followed with a focus group involving participants
from the community and from Canadian Heritage. The results from
the survey and the focus group will be used to conduct a number
of in-depth interviews with students. The findings of the project
will be publicized in popular and academic settings, and given
wide distribution. A report that will be useful for policy makers
will also be prepared. These will be used to create discussion
and dialogue concerning multiculturalism and diversity in Canadian
society. Given that I have previously carried out background
work on this topic, these results will also provide comparative
information. My expectation is that these findings will increase
awareness of students and the general public concerning multicultural
policies, and that the findings can be used to improve multicultural
policies and programs.
Multiculturalism Activity Categories: This project falls
primarily under the Research Projects category (p. 5 of
Program Guidelines), addressing each of the goals listed
there. At the same time, the dissemination of the findings will
have a public education aspect. In addition, the findings might
be useful for institutional development at the University of Regina,
although this is not a specific aim of this particular project.
Multiculturalism Objectives: This project is primarily
aimed at meeting the objectives stated in items 1 and 5 of the
Program Objectives (p. 2 of Program Guidelines).
The primary objective is related to item 5, developing an understanding
concerning views related to multiculturalism, racism, and cultural
diversity, and using the finding to increase public awareness.
Hopefully the findings can then be used to further the aims stated
in item 1, improving participation. The inclusion of questions
related to understandings of and degree of agreement with policies
and programs should help to address the goals of item 1. By including
some questions related to equitable access and barriers within
the University of Regina, it may also be possible to partially
meet objective 3 of the Program Objectives.
Need for the Project: Much of the public and academic
dialogue concerning multiculturalism is polemical and appears
to confuse the discussion of the way in which multiculturalism
has developed in Canada. This is particularly true of the critics
of multiculturalism (Bibby, Bissoondath). The extension of the
multicultural debate to the United States (Dissent, Goldberg,
Gordon, Phillips) has produced new criticisms (Wilson),
often even more polemical and often not so applicable to Canadian
principles and practice.
Further, my own survey of the recent writings on multiculturalism
finds few studies of what views concerning multiculturalism really
are. The only major Canadian studies appear to be the Berry et.
al. survey of 1976 and the Angus Reid poll in 1991. While Bibby
has conducted many polls, Mosaic Madness contains little
concrete data concerning views toward multiculturalism. Abu-Laban
and Stasilius provide a very useful survey of debates on multiculturalism
in Canada, and Frideres also surveys evidence on the extent of
incorporation of ethnic groups in Canada. While theoretically
very compelling, more recent major writings on multiculturalism
(Angus, Kymlicka, Taylor) are also devoid of data concerning the
views of the general public. This project is modest in its coverage,
but my hope is that the findings will spur more investigation
of views toward multiculturalism and multicultural policy.
A related reason for proposing this project is that the students
at the University of Regina come from a multicultural background.
Histories of multiculturalism in Canada (Burnet, Ch. 12) generally
credit second generation immigrants from the Prairies with the
political impetus that created multicultural policy. Many of
the students at the University of Regina are third and fourth
generation immigrants from this area, and it will be one of the
aims of the project to draw conclusions concerning the understanding
of these students about a policy that their parents and grandparents
may have helped institute. The University of Regina also has
a large enrollment of students of aboriginal origin, in the Saskatchewan
Indian Federated College. The bulk of visible minority students
at the university are international students, although some are
landed immigrants or citizens of Canada.
Benefits: While the benefits of this project will be widely
spread, they are none the less tangible. A group of undergraduate
and graduate students will receive training in the area of multicultural
research. It will be community leaders and policymakers who initially
benefit from the findings of the project, as they improve their
understanding of multiculturalism and multicultural policy. Given
the sparse data on multicultural views noted in the previous section,
the findings from this project will be useful for social science
researchers - providing raw material for practical and theoretical
academic work. As ethnic and community organizations and individuals
become more knowledgeable in this area, there should be an improved
understanding of the nature and effects of diversity. My hope
is that the data and analysis from this project can assist in
improving relationships among individuals and groups within the
university setting, and within society more generally.
Partners: At present there are no partners. If the project
is funded, I will consult with the offices of Student Affairs,
the Students' Union, and the University administrators concerning
issues that might be addressed in the project. Currently I am
a member of the board of the Regina Open Door Society, a CIC funded
agency that welcomes and assists in the settlement of refugees
in Regina. The University of Regina and the Regina Open Door
Society are also members of the Prairie Centre of Excellence for
Research on Immigration and Integration, and I am a member of
the Program Committee of the Centre. I will be using these memberships
and contacts as a means of developing the project.
Community Involvement. There will be no direct
community involvement in the initial stages of this project, other
than involvement by students and the agencies mentioned in the
last paragraph. After the survey data have been obtained, I will
organize one or two focus groups that involve those who are involved
with immigrant and multicultural organizations in Regina and area.
The focus groups could include representatives from the Regina
Open Door Society, the Multicultural Council of Saskatchewan,
and Immigrant Women of Saskatchewan. In addition, personnel from
Canadian Heritage will be encouraged to provide input to the project
at this point. When all the data have been produced and analyzed,
I will present the data in various community forums. These could
include the Regina Open Door Society, the Multicultural Council
of Saskatchewan, and various media outlets.
Expected Result. The expected result is an improved understanding
of how University of Regina students interpret and support multicultural
ideals and policies. As representatives of a young adult generation
in the southern part of the province of Saskatchewan, their understandings
and support for multiculturalism will be crucial to the development
of policy and practice in the coming years. As these students
enter the work force and civic participation, they will be participants
in and managers of the diversity that characterizes contemporary
society. To the extent that the results prove useful for community
groups, the general public, and policymakers, it is expected that
multicultural programming and policies may be improved in the
Section 2: Action Plan
Start and End Dates: The project will begin on July 1,
1998 and will be completed by December 31, 1999.
Project Tasks and Key Dates:
Review of literature, preparation of survey. July-August, 1998
Development of survey schedule. September-October, 1998
Survey. November, 1998
Inital analysis of data. November-December, 1998
Focus groups. January-February, 1999
Detailed analysis of data. January-April, 1999
In-depth interviews. March-May, 1999
Writing of reports and articles. May-June, 1999
Presentation of results. June-December, 1999
In previous studies, I have surveyed refugees in Regina (Appendices
B and C) and undergraduates at the University of Regina (Appendices
D and E). I have analyzed the former data and presented two papers
based on these data. The latter data have not been fully analyzed
but promise to be fruitful as an initial source of information
concerning the views and background of students.
The first stage of this project will be to develop a survey questionnaire
using the data and analyses of the two earlier projects, the Angus
Reid poll, and documents on multiculturalism from Canadian Heritage.
For this purpose, I will need to employ a student assistant in
July and August, 1998 to modify and update questions on multiculturalism
and develop new questions related to the renewed multiculturalism
program and to Canadian Heritage policies.
Further revision of the survey will be carried out in September,
1998, as part of an undergraduate methodology class in the Department
of Sociology and Social Studies. Third and fourth year students
in that class will develop and refine the questions, under my
direction. A questionnaire will be constructed by mid October,
1998; it will be tested, revised, and administered to undergraduate
students in early November, 1998. The data will be entered into
the computer and analyzed by the students as part of their work
in this class, under my instruction and direction. It is anticipated
that a representative sample of 700-800 University of Regina undergraduate
students will be obtained in the survey. As in the 1997 survey,
the method used will be a questionnaire distributed in selected
classes during class times, as arranged with the class instructors.
This method has been used for this class in each of the last
four years and has worked well - obtaining a sample of around
700 undergraduate students each semester, and being reasonably
The method that will be used in this study has been tested before
- the method used will be very much the same as the one we used
in the Fall, 1997 semester in the applied methods class. As a
result, I am reasonably confident that the time schedule will
work. The major difference is that this survey will have more,
and better designed, questions devoted to issues of multiculturalism
and diversity. In addition, having a student assistant available
to me from July, 1998 through June, 1999 will assist me in completing
the analysis of the data. A further change will be that having
a student assistant available in early 1999 will allow for a supplementary
sample to be drawn if the Fall, 1998 sample is not sufficiently
representative of the student body. In addition, the student
assistant and I will plan to conduct the one or two focus groups
and we will also conduct follow up interviews with students who
express an interest in discussing these issues in more detail.
From July through December, 1999, I will be the only person involved
in the project. I will prepare a paper for presentation at either
the Learned Societies Conference (June, 1999) or at the Canadian
Ethnic Studies Conference (November, 1999). During this time
I will also prepare a report for general distribution to the public,
as well as to policy makers in the area of multiculturalism.
Finally, I will prepare newspaper or magazine articles and present
my findings to the media and to local groups who express an interest
in the findings of this project.
Who is Involved? The main involvement will be the students
in the applied methods class (who will assist in developing and
administering the survey), the seven to eight hundred students
who complete the questionnaires, the student assistant, and myself.
In addition, I will involve the partners noted above and any
local groups that express an interest in this project. The latter
will be consulted in preparing the survey and will be informed
of the results.
The students will be third or fourth year students who are majoring
in Sociology. They will have taken a variety of Sociology classes,
including an introductory statistics class and a methodology class.
In previous semesters the students have been well prepared and
conscientious, and the results from previous surveys demonstrate
The student assistant will be a graduate student. Hopefully,
we will be able to hire a graduate student who will stay with
the project from July, 1998 through June, 1999. The graduate
student will be required to have familiarity with survey methods
and with statistical work on the computer. The student assistant
will assist with the project in analyzing earlier data sources
(previous surveys), doing background work, developing the survey
instrument, assisting in supervising the students in the class,
entering and analyzing data, doing subsidiary interviews, and
assisting in preparation of the report.
I will be in charge of the project, will supervise the student
assistant, will instruct the applied methods class, will carry
out project tasks as needed, and will write and present the findings
of the project. I have been in charge of this class for each
of the last four years, with a survey and survey report being
produced each year. My vitae and some example papers are attached
(Appendices B through F).
Intended Audience. The intended audience is individuals
and groups with an interest in multiculturalism, diversity, and
multicultural policies and programs. These are noted in the above
Communication/Publicity Plan. The section on project tasks
and key dates outline this. The intention is to publicize the
results of the data and analysis to students and staff at the
University of Regina (in a report something like the Fall, 1997
report (Appendix D), but more detailed), to community groups (through
a report), to policy makers (through the same report), to media
(through newspaper, radio, and television), and to academics (either
the Learned Societies or Canadian Ethnic Studies).
Travel. The only travel required will be for communication
and publicity purposes. I have included a travel budget for presentation
of a paper at either the Learned Societies or Canadian Ethnic
Studies conferences. If out of Regina requests for presentation
of the results are made by community groups, I will use part of
the travel budget for this purpose.
Sharing of Knowledge. The results will be shared as widely
as possible, as noted in the communication/publicity paragraph
above. In addition, subject to maintaining confidentiality of
the raw data, I will share the data set with Canadian Heritage,
interested researchers, community groups, and members of the public.
Evaluation of Project. Before the survey has started,
the Research Ethics Committee of the University of Regina will
evaluate the ethical issues involved in the project. The project
can proceed only if the Ethics Committee gives ethical approval
to the project. The students who take the applied methods class
and who do much of the data production provide the first line
of evaluation. They report problems and complaints, and provide
feedback to me on these. The student assistant and I form the
second line of evaluation. We have conducted similar surveys
(on different topics) in previous semesters, and we will compare
the results of this survey with previous surveys in terms of representativeness
and quality of data. No further evaluation is anticipated. However,
the presentation of the findings of the study to the general public,
to academics, to community groups, and to policy makers, all provide
a means of evaluating the results - in the sense that a wide public
of this sort provides invaluable feedback to the researchers.
Section 3: Project Budget
|Software- qualitative data analysis|
|Printing of questionnaires|
|Printing and mailing of reports|
|Miscellaneous - telephone, copying|
Notes on Budget:
No project revenues are anticipated.
Section 4A: Organization and Individual Profile.
The University of Regina is generally considered to be a comprehensive
university, with a wide range of departments and programs, with
some graduate departments, but with no medical or law school.
The great bulk of undergraduate students come from Regina and
surrounding area. One unique feature of the University of Regina
is that the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College is an affiliated
college, the only such aboriginal institution at a Canadian university.
The Department of Sociology and Social Studies is devoted to teaching
and research within the University of Regina. The Department
of Sociology and Social Studies has approximately thirty masters
level students, at various stages in their programs, with five
or six new students each year. There are around one hundred to
one hundred and fifty undergraduate majors. Several faculty in
the Department have research projects with the Prairie Centre
of Excellence for Research on Immigration and Integration.
My own background is in the area of population, labour force and
immigration studies. I conducted a study of refugees in Regina
for the Saskatchewan Association of Immigrant Settlement and Integration
Agencies (SAISIA) in 1993 and 1994, with funding from the Secretary
of State. I have attached copies of two papers drawn from this
report (Appendices B and C) and can provide the full report if
requested. More recently, I helped organize the University of
Regina involvement in the Prairie Centre of Excellence for Research
on Immigration and Integration, and I am a member of the Program
Committee of the Centre. In terms of conducting and analyzing
surveys, I have taught various levels of statistics classes for
the last twenty five years, have spent considerable time working
with data sets such as the Survey of Consumer Finances and the
General Social Survey, and have conducted a survey in the applied
methods class for each of the last four years. My curriculum
vitae is attached in Appendix F.
Appendix A. References
Angus, Ian, A Border Within: National Identity, Cultural Plurality, and Wilderness (Montreal and Kingston, McGill-Queen's University Press, 1997).
Angus Reid Group, Multiculturalism and Canadians: Attitude Study 1991. National Survey Report. (Angus Reid Group, Inc., 1991).
Abu-Laban, Yasmeen and Daiva Stasiulus, "Ethnic Pluralism under Siege: Popular and Partisan Opposition to Multiculturalism," Canadian Public Policy, 18:4, pp. 365-386.
Berry, John W., Rudolf Kalin, and Donald M. Taylor, Multiculturalism and Ethnic Attitudes in Canada (Ottawa, Supply and Services Canada, 1977).
Bibby, Reginald A., Mosaic Madness: Pluralism Without a Cause (Toronto, Stoddart, 1990).
Bissoondath, Neil, Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada (Toronto, Penguin, 1994).
Burnet, Jean R. with Howard Palmer, Coming Canadians: An Introduction to a History of Canada's People (Toronto, McClelland and Stewart, and Ottawa, Department of the Secretary of State, 1988).
Dissent, Embattled Minorities Around the Globe: Rights, Hopes, Threats. Summer, 1996 special issue. Articles by Charles Taylor, Will Kymlicka, and others.
Fleras, Augie, and Jean Leonard Elliott, Multiculturalism in Canada: The Challenge of Diversity (Scarborough, Nelson Canada, 1992).
Frideres, James S., "The Management of Social Transformations: Immigrants and Ethnonationalists in a Multicultural Society," paper presented at the National Symposium on Immigration and Integration, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, October 25-27, 1996.
Goldberg, David Theo, editor, Multiculturalism: A Critical Reader (Cambridge, Massachusetts, Blackwell, 1994).
Gordon, Avery F. and Christopher Newfield, editors, Mapping Multiculturalism (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1996).
Kymlicka, Will, Multicultural Citizenship: A Liberal Theory of Minority Rights (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1995).
Phillips, Anne, "Why Worry About Multiculturalism?" Dissent, Winter, 1997, pp. 57-63.
Taylor, Charles, "The Politics of Recognition," in Amy Gutman, editor, Multiculturalism and the 'Politics of Recognition' (Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1992).
Wilson, Peter Lamborn,
Multiculturalism: Let n Flowers
Appendix B. Refugee Settlement
and Integration in Regina.
Paper presented at the Learned Societies in 1996.
Appendix C. A 'Great' Large Family: Understandings of Multiculturalism Among Newcomers to Canada. Paper presented at the National Symposium on Immigration and Integration, Winnipeg, October, 1996.
This paper is not currently available on this web site. If you would like a copy, please send an email message to email@example.com
Appendix D. Social Studies 306, Applied Methods: Quantitative
Approaches survey questionnaires
Appendix E. Sample of responses
to question 38 of the 1997 survey.
Appendix F. Vitae.
This document was last updated on December 29, 1998.
Return to Understandings of Multiculturalism home page.