Lucas Timmons/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Paul Yuzyk had earned high marks in teaching college and believed he would soon be standing in front of a chalkboard.

Seventy-seven times, he applied for teaching jobs. Seventy-seven times, he was rejected.

It turns out some people did not want a foreigner teaching their children, which came as a surprise to the young man, who was born and raised in Saskatchewan by parents who had immigrated from Ukraine at the turn of the century.

"To him, it was a real sign that he wasn't accepted, even though he was Canadian-born," said his daughter, Vera Yuzyk, "and that Canada needs changing."

Canada's identity has been shaped by its people, from its original Indigenous inhabitants, to its earliest settlers, to the immigrants who have arrived from all over the planet — now representing more than 250 ethnic origins, from Afghan to Zulu — to build a new life in Canada.

They brought elements of their cultures with them, through their food, their dress, their prayers and language, contributing to the identity of Canada as it evolved into the diverse society it is today.

"Canada has learned how to be strong not in spite of our differences, but because of them," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a November 25, 2015, speech in London.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau steps up to the podium to deliver a speech at Canada House in London, England Wednesday Nov.25, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

At the time, a series of deadly terrorist attacks had rocked Paris, migrants and refugees were flooding into Europe, and a celebrity businessman by the name of Donald Trump had launched his bid for the White House promising to build a wall on the border with Mexico. And here was the newly elected Canadian prime minister, on one of his earliest trips overseas, arguing that encouraging newcomers to retain their cultural identities is one of the best parts of who we are as a country.

It is a story that, by virtue of our history and geography, is uniquely Canadian.

It is a story that allows the four children of Yuzyk and his wife, Mary, to celebrate their Ukrainian heritage and yet be proudly, unquestionably Canadian.

It was not always written that way.

In 1963, newly elected Liberal prime minister Lester Pearson had launched the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism as a response to growing tensions between English-speaking Canada and Quebec, where nationalism was on the rise. Paul Yuzyk had been named a Progressive Conservative senator for Manitoba that year. In his maiden speech in the red chamber early in 1964, he balked at this notion of cultural dualism.

A copy of a speech by Senator Paul Yuzyk's is seen in a photo. Copy taken in Ottawa on Tuesday April 25, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Indigenous people were on the land long before the French and the British arrived, he said, and it was immigrants from elsewhere in Europe, including Ukrainians, who answered the call to settle the western provinces.

Those who did not descend from either of the so-called founding nations — the people Yuzyk referred to as the "third element" in Canadian society — saw their share of the population more than double since the turn of the century, he told his colleagues.

Multiculturalism — or "unity in continuing diversity," as he also called it — should be celebrated as part of what makes Canadians who they are, he argued, but also Canada what it is.

"This principle, in keeping with the democratic way, encourages citizens of all ethnic origins to make their best contributions to the development of a general Canadian culture as essential ingredients in the nation-building process," he said.

In response to intense lobbying by Yuzyk, Ukrainian community and other groups, the commission dedicated the fourth volume of its report to the contributions of ethnic groups and recommended ways to foster and protect their cultural and linguistic development.

On October 8, 1971, Liberal prime minister Pierre Trudeau responded by unveiling his government's new multiculturalism policy.

"Although there are two official languages, there is no official culture, nor does any ethnic group take precedence over any other," Trudeau said in the House of Commons.

Senator Paul Yuzyk's daughter Vera Yuzyk looks at a photo, top right, of her dad with wife Mary speaking with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, after he announced the policy of multiculturalism at the Ukrainian Canadian Congress in Winnipeg, October 9,1971. She looks at photos in Ottawa on Tuesday April 25, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

"It was just such a vindication and an acceptance of the reality in Canada," said Vera Yuzyk.

The focus on multiculturalism was happening as Canada was also opening its borders to a greater diversity of immigrants. In 1967, it became the first country in the world to introduce a points-based system that linked permanent residency to the ability to contribute to Canada.

The doors would open wider still a few years later, allowing for more immigration based on family reunification and refugees, boosting the number of newcomers from non-European countries.

"This principle, in keeping with the democratic way, encourages citizens of all ethnic origins to make their best contributions to the development of a general Canadian culture as essential ingredients in the nation-building process,"

Senator Paul Yuzyk

In the early days of the push for multiculturalism, though, the so-called "third element" in Canada was largely white and Christian. These more established groups, by then well integrated into mainstream Canadian society and not seeking much in the way of accommodation, were the ones leading the way.

Andrew Griffith, a former director general of multiculturalism and citizenship for the federal government, said the fact that multiculturalism evolved gradually over time to adapt to changing immigration patterns is one reason why the idea has been more successful in Canada than in other countries.

"It doesn't mean it's working perfectly, but I think it definitely helped," he said.

On March 3, 1964, the late Paul Yuzyk, a historian and leader in the Ukrainian community who had recently been named a Progressive Conservative senator for Manitoba, used statistics to underscore his point that Canada was no longer, if it had ever been, a bicultural country.

Instead, he argued, there was a "third element" — into which he grouped everyone who was of neither French nor British origin — that had been steadily growing throughout the decades and deserved to be recognized for its contributions to the country.

That trend continued, to the point where it is no longer possible to present the numbers in such a straightforward way.

The 2011 National Household Survey counted more than 250 ethnic origins, including more than 10 million people who identified as "Canadian" and 194,000 as Quebecois. People were also able to list more than one, which is another sign of just how complex multiculturalism in Canada has become.

Canada's Total population —

Indigenous Peoples of North America —

British Isles origins —

French origins —

Others around the world —

The policy also came with government funding for cultural groups. It never amounted to more than $30 million a year, but it fuelled accusations the policy was more political than pure.

David Collenette, who was minister of state for multiculturalism in the final year of the Trudeau government, said that while it is true politicians want to appeal to as many different people as possible, politics was not the driving force.

David Collenette, who was minister of state for multiculturalism in the final year of the Trudeau government, talks with reporters at a news conference in Ottawa Tuesday April 1, 2003. (CP PHOTO/Tom Hanson)

"If Sen. Yuzyk was here he would say this had nothing to do with getting Conservative votes in Western Canada," he said. "This was all about just doing the right thing and making those people not of English and French origin comfortable."

As Canada entered the 1980s, the multiculturalism program began to take more seriously its goal of removing barriers to full participation in society.

Jim Fleming, whom Trudeau named as minister of state for multiculturalism following the 1980 election, said this emerged out of a growing awareness that immigrant communities, especially visible minorities, were experiencing discrimination and racism, which could not be solved with money for things like food festivals and traditional dancing.

Fleming said the decision to include multiculturalism in the Charter of Rights of Freedoms helped the concept grow beyond tolerating diversity.

"It was about ensuring diversity," he said.

That work continued with Brian Mulroney's Progressive Conservative government. The Canadian Multiculturalism Act, passed in 1988, gave the Trudeau-era policy some government-wide legislative teeth. It tasked all federal institutions with being sensitive and responsive to cultural diversity, and made overcoming discrimination and racism an official goal of the policy.

Gerry Weiner, who held the portfolio at the time, said they knew integrating the increasingly diverse population required institutional change.

Former Minister of Multiculturalism and Citizenship, Gerry Weiner, in Ottawa on Thursday, May 10, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

"If the institutions in society do not reflect them — if they don't see their face in the window — they don't feel like they really belong."

By the early 1990s, criticism of multiculturalism had expanded beyond Quebec, where it had from the beginning been viewed as a potential threat its French-speaking identity, and Indigenous Peoples, who were, and remain, resistant to any suggestion they are just another tile in the mosaic.

One of its fiercest critics was Neil Bissoondath, a Canadian novelist born in Trinidad, who in his 1994 book, "Selling Illusions: The Cult of Multiculturalism in Canada," argued it was building silos, not bridges.

"They were, as I liked to call it, weapons of mass inclusion," said Liberal MP Hedy Fry, who was minister of state for multiculturalism from 1996 to 2002.

Secretary of State for multiculturalism Hedy Fry during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa Monday Mar 26, 2001. (CP PHOTO/Tom Hanson)

The Conservative government of Stephen Harper stressed that multiculturalism must include integration — especially in a post-9/11 global context.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had gone so far as to say, in 2010, that multiculturalism had "failed utterly." But as Griffith pointed out, the Canadian version of multiculturalism — often studied, but never fully replicated — had always strived for integration, including by stressing the need to learn either English or French, rather than maintaining enclaves of ethnic and religious minorities.

"Such an approach fails to address the most basic questions people have about each other: do those men doing the Dragon Dance really all belong to secret criminal societies?" he wrote. "Such questions do not seem to be the concern of multiculturalism in Canada."

The Liberal government of former prime minister Jean Chretien reviewed the program in the mid-1990s, ending the direct funding of ethnocultural organizations and bringing in language about fostering "attachment to Canada."

Fry said there was also greater emphasis on the idea that Canadians comfortable in other cultures and languages could help strengthen international trade.

Still, Conservative cabinet minister Jason Kenney, who remained in charge of multiculturalism throughout the Harper era, argued in 2008 that moving the program to the immigration department meant it would benefit from being linked to settlement programs that aimed, in part, to develop a common understanding of what it means to be a Canadian citizen, and shifted the emphasis from rights to responsibilities.

Canada's Minister of Employment and Social Development and Minister for Multiculturalism Jason Kenney responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons Friday June 20, 2014 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Kenney also took on an important political role, earning the nickname of "the minister for curry in a hurry" as he worked to woo ethnic voters away from the Liberals, underscoring the important place new Canadians have come to occupy in the life of the country.

The Trudeau Liberals have made "diversity and inclusion" a major theme of the Canada 150 celebrations, but more than 50 years ago, as the country was preparing to celebrate its centennial, a former schoolteacher was already describing a similar vision for the country’s future.

"It will be Canada's contribution to the world," he said.

The Canadian identity is always shifting, as everyone who arrives here brings their own traditions and adopt new ones, contributing to the mosaic that has come to represent this place.

Here are eight stories about what multiculturalism in Canada really means to the people who live it.

Vietnam: Paul Nguyen

Paul Nguyen, a member of the Vietnamese Association of Toronto is pictured in Toronto on Sunday May 14 , 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Paul Nguyen, 37, was born not long after his parents arrived in Canada from Vietnam, as part of the wave of so-called "boat people" who came as refugees after escaping war.

He knew little about that part of their history though, as his parents did not talk about it and he says he never thought to ask them.

"I was born here, grew up here, you're just kind of used to it," says Nguyen, a filmmaker in Toronto who runs a website for his community of Jane and Finch.

"You go tobogganing in the winter, you play street hockey, it's kind of a Canadian thing. I never thought to think about my past until I was much older."

A few years ago, he reached out to Robert Sargent, an older white man the family called Uncle Bob, who had played a big role in their immigration story.

Sargent had noticed a group of young, Vietnamese men hanging around outside a hotel while he was on a break for lunch and started to get to know them, knocking on the doors of rooms to say he had a car and would be willing to get them where they needed to go.

Nguyen says the volunteer helped his parents find an apartment, taught them how to use public transit and otherwise helped ease their integration into Canada.

He says he is glad he finally learned the story, as he wants to maintain his cultural heritage and worries it might disappear with the next generation.

"I think it's important to know your history and try to maintain some of it and pass it along."

China: Sid Chow Tan

Sid Chow Tan, an advocate for Chinese-Canadians, attends a Vancouver, B.C. anti-racism protest on March 23, 2013 in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO- David P. Ball

Sid Chow Tan, 68, remembers being told that if anyone asked, he was a baby when he came to Canada and did not remember a thing.

That was true, but it was meant to conceal things that were not.

Later on, he realized there was a reason he referred to the couple who raised him as Mom and Dad when he was speaking English, but as Ah Yeh and Ah Nging — paternal grandfather and grandmother — when speaking Chinese at their home in Battleford, Sask.

There were thousands of so-called paper sons and daughters who came to Canada under false identities, as Tan did as a baby fleeing the Communist Revolution with his grandmother in 1950, as a way to get around strict and racist immigration rules.

Tan says he and the boy he knew as his older brother — really a cousin who came as a second paper son — grew up unaware of this secret until their family applied for amnesty. Afterwards, his own birth parents and younger siblings were able to immigrate to Canada too.

Like many Chinese-Canadian men, his grandfather had already been in Canada for about three decades, having paid a head tax and prevented from bringing his family over. He had been brought to Canada by an uncle who had worked on the railroad after coming to North American for the gold rush of 1849.

Tan, who played a role in the fight for Chinese Head Tax redress, says that while his family has been on the continent for more than 150 years, his own children were the first to be born here.

"That tells you what racism and immigration policies and all that stuff do to families," says Tan.

Still, Tan stresses he is grateful to be Canadian.

"I believe our family has won life's lottery by being able to grow up and live and participate and be part of this free country we call Canada — stolen as it is, from First Nations," he says from his home in Vancouver, B.C.

Jamaica: Marie Clarke Walker and family

Beverley Johnson (centre), along with her two children, Robert Clarke Johnson and Marie Clarke Walker pose for a portrait in Toronto on Saturday, June 24, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Marie Clarke Walker, 52, says there is nothing she can get back home in Jamaica that she cannot find in the local supermarket in Toronto.

"Now, I can go to the store just across the street and get otaheiti apples, get all different kinds of mangoes, get tambrin, get guava, get naseberries — that's my mother's favourite fruit — everything," she says.

"When you come into Canada, there is no sign that says leave your language, your culture, your ethnicity at the door," she says.

She did not want to come here, though, when she arrived in 1972 at the age of eight, leaving her house and the warm weather of Jamaica behind for an apartment crowded with relatives she barely knew.

Her mother, Beverley Johnson, decided it would be best to bring Clarke Walker and her six-year-old brother, Robert Clarke Johnson, to live with family in Toronto while she returned to Jamaica for her job, with a plan to eventually bring her children back home.

"I considered what was in their best interests and the education system, the opportunities that were presenting themselves for them, made the decision," says Johnson, 77, who had come to Canada as a student years earlier but decided not to stay. "For me, it was a difficult decision to take."

Clarke Walker does have sweet memories of making ice cream and jackass corn — a thin and crisp traditional Jamaican biscuit — with her grandmother, but there were also negative memories much deeper than the snow.

"There were some kids that wouldn't talk to us, wouldn't play with us," says Clarke Walker.

"The first time I heard the N-word was three weeks after I landed in this country," she says, noting this experience helped shape her life as a human rights activist and leader in the labour movement. "The first time didn't come from another child."

Robert Clarke Johnson, 51, says he remembers the move to Canada as a big adventure, but he also grew up experiencing racism, including from police, and still does today, even though he has seen, especially through the eyes of his children, his city become more diverse.

"The underlying current — at times it's a whisper, at times it's a loud voice — of racism still exists."

Holocaust survivor: Judy Young Drache

Holocaust survivor Judy Young-Drache looks through a book of the Passover Haggada at her home in Ottawa on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. The book was printed in 1942 as a fundraising project to help poor Jewish families in Hungary. Her father, Gyorgy Balazs who was killed in the holocaust, helped to researched and prepared the the books illustrations. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Judy Young Drache, 74, thinks it was the hope of finding a hidden gift that led her to open the dresser drawer.

What she found that day, more than six decades ago, was a message from another life.

There was a letter, written by a man she soon realized was her real father, dated June 30, 1944.

That had been her first birthday, and perhaps just a few short days before Jews were deported from his neighbourhood in Budapest, Hungary, and sent to Nazi death camps.

He was one of them. So was her mother.

She, a baby at the time, had been spirited away to live with the cousins she thought, until she found the letter, were her parents.

In the letter, her father expressed his wish that his daughter be raised with the Jewish faith.

That desire, like the true story of her family, was buried with silence.

Sensing her adoptive parents wanted to keep it that way, she told no one about what she had found.

Many years later, long after she settled in Canada, Drache began pulling the threads of her past.

"I couldn't help it once I started it," says Drache, who has shared her story with the Centre for Holocaust Education and Scholarship at Carleton University.

She learned her father had been an archaeologist who worked at the Jewish Museum in Budapest, and that he had lied when he said on his registration form at a subcamp of Buchenwald, a concentration camp in Nazi Germany, that he had no children.

She still does not know exactly how he died.

He listed his wife and their parents as residing at Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland, where Drache assumes they were killed upon arrival.

Drache spent years working in the multiculturalism program of the federal government, but says she had always been hesitant to view her own life through that lens until she set off on her personal journey to rediscover her own religious and cultural identity.

Inuit: Deborah Kigjugalik Webster

Children's book author Deborah Kigjugalik Webster sits with her mom and elder Sally Webster in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 2, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Deborah Kigjugalik Webster, 49, has a memory for each season she headed out on the land with her father, either by boat or by snowmobile and qamutiik, a traditional Inuit wooden sled.

"There's nothing like the social aspect of ice fishing in the spring, breathing in the scent of the tundra in the summer, blueberry picking with my aunt in the fall and skidoo rides and sliding in the winter," says Kigjugalik Webster, a children's author.

"The outdoors was our classroom and playground!"

She grew up in Baker Lake, or Qamani’tuaq, a hamlet in Nunavut, where she remembers being surrounded by family in the close-knit community.

She and her family — including her mother, an Inuk woman, and her father, who originally immigrated from England and moved up north for a teaching job — moved to Ottawa so that she could go to high school, as her home community did not have one, but moved to Yellowknife after university.

She has been back in Ottawa for six years and loves how strong the Inuit community is here.

She says her mother, Sally Webster, is often invited to say a prayer and light the qulliq — a traditional Inuit oil lamp — at community events.

She also makes tapestries featuring pictures of the people and places she knew back home.

She says the community has complicated feelings about celebrating Canada 150, given the history of how Inuit were treated by the Canadian government.

"I know Inuit were used as human flags in the north and relocated to the high Arctic when it wasn't their traditional land," she says.

Still, she says she is proud to be part of this country and plans to celebrate the event on Parliament Hill.

"I think now is a special time of healing and it's good when we come together for events like this."

India: Seema Gupta

Seema Gupta is seen in this handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Seema Gupta

Seema Gupta says the decision to come to Canada was made almost on a whim.

She was from Mumbai. Her husband, Raj, was from Delhi. They were having a hard time deciding between the two, so when a friend applying to immigrate to Canada on a professional visa kept encouraging them join him, they did.

"Why not?" she recalls from her home in Waterloo, Ont.

She remembers how her husband attended a seminar aimed at attracting professionals to the foreign land, where the brochures emphasized multiculturalism, health care, gorgeous landscapes and yes, even the colder climate as the big draws.

"What they didn't highlight in those seminars was how difficult it is for people to get a job," Gupta says.

She and their baby daughter stayed behind while Raj, an engineer in technology sales, gained Canadian experience working at a big box electronics store and a call centre before finally landing a job in his field after nearly a year.

Gupta remembers how isolated she felt as a young mother living in their basement apartment in a quiet, residential neighbourhood in the Scarborough area of Toronto nearly two decades ago, missing the noise and closeness that had come with being surrounded by a large extended family back home.

She says she loves Canada now, but regrets they were never able to visit family in India as often as they wanted to.

She feels the distance more acutely as her parents get older and she cannot be there when needed.

And while she thinks the wintertime is beautiful to look at through the window, she has never got used to the cold.

"I used to enjoy ice cream. I don't anymore," she says with a chuckle.

Uganda: Mike Mehta

Mike Mehta sits for a portrait in his home in Kitchener, Ontario on Friday, June23, 2017. Mehta came to Canada as a refugee from Uganda in 1972 after the country's president ordered an expulsion of Asian minorities. Mehta says he chose the best country to come to. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Hannah Yoon

Mike Mehta, 67, left Uganda because he had to, but he says he chose Canada as the place to begin his new life.

"It scared the hell out of me the first time I saw that much snow here, but that didn't stop me," Mehta says from his home in Kitchener, Ont.

He had lived through more frightening things than snow.

On August 4, 1972, Idi Amin, who was then president of Uganda, ordered 80,000 people of Asian origin out of the country.

Others in his family headed to India, where his parents had been born, while some relatives went to England.

Mehta says he knew nothing about Canada except that its prime minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was accepting refugees and treating them well.

There were 6,000 Ugandan Asians brought to Canada — the first time the country took part in a large-scale resettlement effort involving non-European refugees. Mehta, with $50 in his pocket, was one of them.

"I said, 'Where is the warmest place in Canada?'" Mehta says when asked how he ended up in Windsor, Ont.

He started off working a minimum-wage job at a jewellery store, but had to spend too much of his earnings on transportation.

He was keen to own a car and a house like the Canadians around him, so he answered an ad for a part-time job as a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman.

He began climbing his way up in that industry before eventually moving into the dry-cleaning business.

"It was challenging," says Mehta, before adding: "It was a lot of fun."

"I could see what the opportunities are there in the world, in Canada, if you are willing to work."

Italy: Teresa Secondo Zuccaro

Teresa Secondo Zuccaro at her home Tuesday, May 30, 2017 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Teresa Secondo Zuccaro, 62, remembers her father throwing the plates away after a farewell dinner with family.

"We don't need these anymore!" she says, laughing at the memory.

The decision to leave the dinnerware in Italy was followed by another decision to pack a small suitcase with nothing but sugar taralli — a biscuit shaped into a circle — in case they disliked the food they encountered on the journey to Canada in 1960.

That was not the case on the transatlantic ocean liner, at least not for five-year-old Secondo Zuccaro, who remembers a waiter insisting she finish her supper before being able to enjoy a bowl of orange sherbet — a dessert she had never tasted back home and one she loves to this day.

On the train from Halifax to Montreal, however, is where they dug into the suitcase, having turned up their noses as the strange and mysterious bread — sliced, if you can imagine — that greeted them ashore.

Life in Montreal is where things became easier for Secondo Zuccaro and her siblings, who soaked up a second language alongside other newly arrived immigrant children in the classroom.

"We were proud to be able to speak English and try to fit in," she says.

She remembers bringing sandwiches made of that hated sliced bread to school for lunch, even though Italian panini tasted so much better — only to end up raising a Canadian-born son who preferred panini.

Secondo Zuccaro is proud of the traditions her family has kept up from their Italian heritage — especially the culinary ones — and glad that all three of her children learned to speak Italian.

But this is where she feels she belongs.

"Italy is beautiful, but no — Canada is home," she says.