“Canadian-First”: Mixed Race Self-Identification and Canadian Belonging

Posted in Articles, Canada, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-07-13 19:26Z by Steven

“Canadian-First”: Mixed Race Self-Identification and Canadian Belonging

Canadian Ethnic Studies
Volume 47, Number 2, 2015
pages 21-44
DOI: 10.1353/ces.2015.0017

Jillian Paragg
Department of Sociology
University of Alberta

Not being read or identified by others as “Canadian” was a common thread in semi-structured in-depth interviews I conducted with 19 young adults of mixed race in a Western Canadian urban context. In this paper, I address moments of (in)ability for people of mixed race to claim “Canadian.” Mixed race people have a complex relationship with identifying and narrating their identities as “Canadian” through the operation of race and ethnicity in the Canadian context, and because of ambivalent and contradictory readings of their bodies. I found that they deploy the term in three ways: by expressing a sense of being “Canadian-first,” by stating that there exists an understanding that “Canadian means white,” and by strategically using the term “Canadian” in their interactions with others, signaling an active appropriation of the term. However, none of these deployments are mutually exclusive: they overlap and bleed into each other, playing off and impacting one another. This paper adds to nascent Canadian Critical Mixed Race studies and also redresses a gap in the literature on “Canadian identity” by examining how the ability to claim “Canadian” is racialized through a consideration of the experiences of mixed race people.

Le fait de ne pas être lus ou identifiés par d’autres comme “Canadiens” était le dénominateur commun dans les entrevues semi-structurés que j’ai menées en profondeur avec 19 jeunes adultes de races mixtes dans un contexte urbain de l’Ouest Canadien. Dans cet article, je mets en exergue les moments d’ (in)aptitude des personnes de races mixtes de se réclamer “Canadiens”. Les gens de races mixtes ont une relation complexe avec l’identification et la narration de leurs identités en tant que “Canadiens”, à cause des perceptions ambivalentes et contradictoires de leurs corps. J’ai trouvé que ceux-ci déploient leur terme de trois façons: en exprimant le sens d’être “Canadien en premier”, en affirmant qu’il existe une compréhension du “Canadien qui veut dire Blanc” et en usant stratégiquement du terme “Canadien” dans leur interactions avec les autres, signalant une appropriation active du ce terme. Cependant, aucuns de ces déploiements ne s’excluent mutuellement: ils se chevauchent et s’empiètent entre eux, jouant au large et s’impactant l’un de l’autre. Ce papier s’ajoute aux études critiques canadiennes naissantes sur les races mixtes et répare aussi une lacune dans la littérature des “identités canadiennes”, en examinant comment l’aptitude de se réclamer “Canadien” est radicalisée à travers une considération des expériences des personnes de races mixtes.

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One of the Family: Métis Culture in Nineteenth-Century Northwestern Saskatchewan by Brenda Macdougall (review)

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Canada, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation on 2013-09-12 00:53Z by Steven

One of the Family: Métis Culture in Nineteenth-Century Northwestern Saskatchewan by Brenda Macdougall (review)

Canadian Ethnic Studies
Volume 44, Number 3, 2012
pages 147-148
DOI: 10.1353/ces.2013.0012

Frits Pannekoek, President and Professor of History
Athabasca University, Athabasca, Alberta, Canada

Brenda Macdougall, One of the Family: Metis Culture in Nineteenth-Century Northwestern Saskatchewan (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2010)

For the last several decades, scholarship in Métis genealogy has matured to the point that it can proudly claim a leading position in the field of prosopography, a field first identified in medieval studies. It has become an instrument to divine an understanding of Métis society, its construction, its past and its continuity. Macdougall has built carefully on the scholarship of amongst others: Jennifer Brown, Sylvia Van Kirk, John Foster, Gerhard Ens, Doug Sprague, Heather Devine, and Nicole St. Onge. Her book deals with Métis culture in 19th century Northwestern Saskatchewan largely around Ile a La Crosse, a real and symbolic centre to the people of the Northwest. It is organized into seven chapters with introduction and conclusion, for a total of nine chapters.

The book argues that the Métis families of the Northwest are “wahkootowin.” This, according to Macdougall, is a Cree “worldview linking land, family, and identity in one interconnected web of being.” The first chapter deals with the social landscapes of the Northwest, the second with the social construction of the Métis family, the third with residency and patronymic connections across the Northwest, the fourth with family acculturation and Roman Catholicism, and the fifth with family labor and the Hudson’s Bay Company. Two later chapters deal with free trade and the culture it contributed.

Macdougall’s contributions are significant and considerable. As noted, she used “wahkootowin” to explain the complex set of interrelationships amongst a people. She explains how marriage patterns, work lives, and religion were all mutually reinforcing and how these complex relationships or “wahkootowin” defined life. Family mattered a great deal and a study of the family structures evidences a pattern that persisted and deepened over four generations. The volume is rich in detail and anyone with roots in Northern Saskatchewan will leave with a deeper understanding of themselves. It is, to a degree, an insider’s study, but for the scholar of Métis genesis, it is now the best explanation of how a people and an identity emerged in the Saskatchewan interior.

The book is, however, not without its problems, although some will consider these its greatest strengths. First, it will be very difficult for people outside the region or new to Métis studies to read the book with any real enjoyment. The genealogical data is dense and will be in the eyes of some a major obstacle to understanding “wahkootowin.” Others, however, will find the nuanced tapestry of family information a highly compelling background to the family networks that Macdougall argues are so foundational to an understanding of the Métis. Most Métis scholars will ponder these connections and will use the questions Macdougall asks to further their own family reconstructions regardless of region or Aboriginal cultural roots.

The real question that will be posed by many is whether the findings are replicable. Are the complex interconnections of Northwestern Saskatchewan to be found in Northern Manitoba at Rossville for example? Macdougall rightfully makes much of the Catholicism of the Ile a La Crosse community, and points out how Protestant mixed bloods were probably purposefully excluded. Would the Methodist community at, for example, Rossville, the community at White Fish Lake, or that at Stanley mission have been equally exclusionary to Catholics? Would English-speaking, Protestant mixed-blood communities have differing structures? Would “wahkootowin” take on a different texture in these communities? Would the Hudson’s Bay Company have a different relationship given the dominance of Protestants in its hierarchy? Would there be Protestant Catholic intermarriages? Macdougall, I would suggest, would likely say not, but were Irene Spry still alive she would suggest that intermarriages would and did occur. A more careful reading of Anglican and Methodist archives might pose new questions. What is important is that Macdougall has moved the discussion on Métis culture from one of class, or one focusing on ethnicity to one that requires an understanding of complex Aboriginal cultural norms rather than one requiring a complex understanding of European or Euro American ones. Macdougall demands much of her readers, and those who accept the challenge will be well rewarded…

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Bicultural Identity Formation of Second-Generation Indo-Canadians

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Canada, Identity Development/Psychology, New Media on 2010-08-23 17:37Z by Steven

Bicultural Identity Formation of Second-Generation Indo-Canadians

Canadian Ethnic Studies
Volume 40, Number 2, 2008
pages 187-199
E-ISSN: 1913-8253
Print ISSN: 0008-3496

Pavna Sodhi, Ed.D, CCC
Abundant Living Counselling Group, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

This article examines the bicultural identity formation and cultural experiences internalized by second-generation Indo-Canadians in their efforts to accommodate the “best of both worlds” into their lifestyle. The objectives of this article are to educate the reader to become cognizant of the bicultural issues encountered by second-generation Indo-Canadians; to demonstrate interventions suitable for the second-generation Indo-Canadian populations; and to increase the readers’ understanding of bicultural identity formation. What becomes evident is that intergenerational dialogue has a profound impact on the bicultural identity formation of this population. It will serve to guide these individuals to find a third space (Bhabha 2004) or zone of proximal development (ZPD) to encourage evolvement of their bicultural identity (Cummins 1996; Gutiérrez et al. 1999).

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