Challenges of Pluralism Notes

Contending Loyalties
Canada is unique because:
Most Countries…
have one language
Is bilingual and multicultural
have a majority population of one
has three founding nations and
immigrants from around the world
expect people to integrate or assimilate
encourages and protects the rights of
minority groups
have developed along defined geographic
was created despite the geography
has had the course of history changed
through violent revolution
evolved for the most part peacefully
have limited natural resources
has almost unlimited resources
do not question their identity
constantly seems to questions “what is a
 allegiance,
faithfulness, devotion,
fidelity, steadfastness, attachment
loyalties can affect the choices you make,
and some choices can test our loyalties
 Patriotism:
love of country,
directly relates to loyalty
Examples of
Conflicting Loyalties
a member of the Blackfoot people feeling a loyalty to her
people and to Canada.
people of Newfoundland mourning the loss of soldiers at the
Battle of Somme on July 1st
a hockey player traded from Edmonton to Colorado must try
to beat the Oilers in a hockey game
could a homecoming parade for soldiers be both a protest
against war and a display of patriotism?
The 1995 Quebec referendum demonstrated different
perspectives of immigrants versus the long-term residents
“Contending loyalties? Are you kidding? I grew up in the United
States, where you swear allegiance to the flag every day in school.
We were good Americans and were weren’t embarrassed to show it.
Now I’m a dual citizen, American and Canadian, or maybe I should
say Canadian and American. I’m not sure which comes first. There
are lots of great things about Canada. But it really bugs me when
my friends slag Americans for warmongering. Talk about
stereotyping! I’m always explaining that there are just as many
points of view on war and terrorism in the United States as there is
in Canada. So yeah, sometimes it’s hard to separate my feelings for
my birth country and my adopted country. “ (student who has moved to
Regional and nationalist loyalties can sometimes compete e.g. Alberta
and Canada (NEP, Kyoto)
Ignoring contending loyalties – some people remain uninvolved
because they feel they don’t know enough, they don’t have enough
power, or it does not affect them directly. These people may pay a
price for their silence: someone else will make important decisions for
Choosing one loyalty over another – can lead to feelings of alienation
(e.g. China prohibits practice of some religious groups like Falun
Gong; followers must decide which loyalty is more important to them)
Inuit Perspectives
Inuit signed no treaties with the British, but have still been affected
by government policies
1930s animal populations were declining so Inuit were moved to
permanent settlements (sometimes by force) that changed the culture,
and health, of Inuit people. This created serious social problems
eg names – Canadian government decided it was too difficult to keep
track of the Inuit people who had only one name. So they assigned a
personal number to each person. Often government workers, like
teachers, would refer to students by their id number (Annie E7-121).
In 1969 the system was abolished but Inuit people were told they
would have to choose a last name, which went against the traditions
of the Inuit
Nationalist loyalties in a
multicultural nation
 pluralism:
encouraging many groups to
celebrate their collective identities
“Canada is a nation of nations”
“The Canadian national experience had bedeviled (as well as enriched) by the
fact that English and French Canada do not share the same history of 1759. For
more than 200 years, Canadian politics has been defined by the quarrel over the
meaning of the battle on the Plains of Abraham. It is sentimental illusion to
suppose that the two communities will ever agree on what it means. At best, we
will agree to disagree; we will continue the argument. And the argument –
provided it remains civil – will not prevent us from living together and sharing
political institutions.” (Michael Ignatieff)
a legal and constitutional concept that requires
Canadian public institutions to adapt to the
religious and cultural practices of minorities as
long as these practices do not violate other rights
and freedoms.
the vision of Canada as a bilingual and multicultural society has also sparked debate
about how far a pluralistic society should go to accommodate and protect the rights of
Eg – Sikh turban – RCMP uniform
 (does changing a nation’s symbols reduce citizens’ nationalist loyalties?)
Hutterites in Alberta and photo id on driver’s licences
Having to wear a helmet
Non-nationalist loyalties
 loyalties
that are not embedded in the idea
of nation (eg family)
sometimes they are intertwined. Loyalty to your friends is not a
nationalist loyalty, but you may have chosen a friend because you both
moved to Alberta from England and share a nationalist loyalty to your
mother country.
Choosing one loyalty over another can lead to feelings of
e.g. China prohibits practice of some religious groups like Falun Gong;
followers must decide which loyalty is more important to them;
Aboriginal Canadians feeling disconnected from their culture to fit into
urban society
Reconciling contending
 coming
to terms with the past or
mending a broken relationship
e.g. Aboriginal peoples of Canada
Federal government Statement of Reconciliation (1998) – expressed
regret for Canada’s history of suppressing Aboriginal culture and values
and weakening the identity of Aboriginal peoples.
Aboriginal peoples are participating in the creation of school curriculum
that celebrates and educates Canadians about Aboriginal cultures and
Aboriginal groups play a role in making government decisions, therefore
showing a loyalty to the Aboriginal nation and the Canadian nationstate
Where do you sit on the
Nationalism is central to identity
Nationalism plays a minimal role in identity

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