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Social Change, New Voices of the Sixties
Native Canadians, feminist issues, equality legislation, social revolution, French origin
The independence movement in Quebec was only one social revolution among many in Canada in the late 1960s. There, as elsewhere in the developed world, youth culture and youth protest flourished, minorities asserted their rights, and women worked to transform their place in society. Women moved rapidly into the workforce, into higher education, and into feminist political and social campaigns against sexism and gender inequality. The National Action Committee on the Status of Women, a federation of women’s organizations, was formed in 1971 to lobby for abortion rights, equality legislation, and other feminist issues.
In the 1960s Canada also opened immigration to new racial and ethnic communities from southern Europe, the Caribbean, Asia, and much of the world. Concentrating in the cities, immigrants changed the face of urban Canada, producing a dynamic mix of peoples in communities that had long been dominated by people of British or French origin. In 1971 the federal government officially recognized multiculturalism as a characteristic of Canada. Native Canadians, the poorest and most marginalized Canadians throughout the century, had also begun a demographic and cultural renaissance. Native organizations started to assert political demands rooted in ancient and long-neglected treaty rights.
In the midst of these growing tensions, Canada hosted a remarkably lively and successful commemoration of the centennial of Confederation in 1967. Its highlight was the successful world’s fair, Expo ‘67, in Montreal.
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