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Canada's centenary in 1967 had a wide-ranging impact-it made it possible for all Canadians to be proud of their roots. The coming to prominence of multiculturalism, with its emphasis on the importance of ethnicity to an understanding of the people of Canada, in the early 1970s, began to illuminate the need to counter racism and discrimination. This culminated with the entrenchment of individual and collective rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1980. An important benchmark, the Charter became a means of not only protecting Canadian citizens but also new immigrants. What was accepted behaviour on the part of the ruling classes in the previous century, was no longer acceptable. Many Italian immigrants believe that those who have come to Canada in the last part of the 20th century have it easy-social safety nets are in place and there is legal protection of rights.
Much writing on immigration history in the 1980s focused on discrimination and oral history interviews sometimes focused on this issue and skewed the oral evidence. That is not to say that discrimination was not prevalent and harmful, rather, that if it becomes the focus of the telling of the immigration story, it does not allow other themes and achievements to surface. What is heroic is overcoming of hardships and prospering in an alien land. Discrimination was one of those hardships to be overcome-it was not the whole story. 6
More recent ethnocultural studies have focused on marginalization as a sidestream of racial intolerance and discrimination. An example of this would be the difficulties experienced by writers and artists whose ethnicity is the source of their creativity. Some would claim that the dominant culture in Canada (English and French) prevents them from achieving mainstream status. This might have been true in the 1980s and early 1990s but the rise to prominence of writers of Italian ancestry such as Nino Ricci and Peter Oliva as well as other writers of Asian and other heritages would suggest otherwise. Racism, sadly, seems to be an inherent element in human beings and the fact that wars are still being fought based on atrocities committed centuries ago, is an incentive for all democratic governments to promote racial tolerance and entrench it in legislation. Education is the tool for creating a more-enlightened citizenry and the recognizing of diversity and pluralism in all aspects of Canadian life and achievement is essential.