SFU Educational Review
Volume 1, Number 1 (2014)
Department of Psychology
Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
“Racism is like a fleet-footed bedbug that runs for cover under a sweet-smelling duvet stuffed with politeness and tolerance for multiculturalism” (Hill, 2001, p. 155).”
Scope of the topic, and paper organization
This paper will examine the most prominent theories of identity development of mixed race people in Canada from the late 1800s to the present day in the emergent multicultural context. It will examine the theories and contexts related to all mixed race people rather than focusing on a specific group.
This paper will commence with a discussion of the relevance of the topic, and an overview of multiculturalism policies in Canada. In the second part of the paper, the history of concepts relating to mixed race identity development in Canada will be analyzed in historical context and, when possible, related to the Multiculturalism Policy. In the third section of this paper, the current theories of mixed race identity development and multiculturalism will be addressed. Finally, the need to re-conceptualize race and/or mixed race identity, and current proposals for re-conceptualization will be outlined. When selecting this topic, it was assumed that identity development theories would need to be adapted to suit multiculturalism; however, it was found that the current theories addressing mixed race individuals were comprehensive, and enough empirical and theoretical evidence existed to suggest that they meet the needs of mixed race people. Thus, to address the incongruence between mixed race identity development models and multiculturalism, the focus will be placed on the latter, but a few ideas that are in accord with existing theories on Mixed Race Identity development and the empirical research to address the discrepancies will be suggested. Then, a theory of reconceptualization will be argued as the most appropriate, and the implications for research, the challenges/disadvantages, and the remaining challenges will be addressed.
This paper will be somewhat limited in its ability to discuss identity theories in an exclusively Canadian context, and it cannot accurately reflect the unique situation of the Metis peoples of Canada, or other multi-racial First Nations Peoples. This is not because this topic is unimportant. However, given the remarkably unique socio-cultural position of the First Nations Peoples in Canada, while some of the content of this paper may apply to multi-racial First Nations Peoples, it is beyond the scope of this paper to explore in a manner that would be both appropriate and comprehensive (this remains a critical direction for future work). Although the body of work on Mixed Race identity development in a Canadian context is growing, most of the research on this subject has largely been done in the United States (Taylor, 2008). When possible, exclusively Canadian sources are used, but they are supplemented with American sources interpreted for a Canadian context. Furthermore, due to space constraints, not every development model could be included; however, the most commonly cited, influential and representative ones have been added…
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