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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Multiculturalism, immigration and citizenship : a view of social relations in Canada Low, Cynthia

Abstract

National multicultural and multiracial pluralism is a reality of modernity. In Canada multiculturalism has been an official policy since 1971. As a settler society the concepts, values and principles entrenched in multiculturalism, citizenship and immigration reflect a history of racialization. Uncritical views of nation building and citizenship assume that all Canadians have equal opportunity to participate and contribute to the social, economic, cultural and political life of the country. Given the current milieu of globalization, transnationalism and internationalism in an era of interconnectivity, market economies and of focus on economic capital, there is a challenge for Canada to consign a sense of place and equal participation to all its citizens. This is a conceptual thesis that looks at how government policy and dominant hegemony in Canada mediate relationships and identities within and among immigrant communities and other marginalized communities be they bound by geography, economics race, gender, religion or sexuality. Personal-narratives from my own experience as an immigrant are used to highlight how social relations are constituted, synthesized, merged, enacted, intersected, transpired and inspired. The objective is to interrogate the ubiquity of racially esssentialized and exclusionary practices that continue to inform and guide our development as a settler society, no matter how rigorously we may deny or how we frame the practice of racialization. The key issues to be examined are, first, the development of group and individual identity in its relational, political, historical and cultural contexts. The second issue is the development of social relations between marginalized communities as they are affected by government policies in areas of immigration, multiculturalism and citizenship. And finally the thesis examines the practice of Adult Education as contributing to social relations between communities. Identity and identity politics circumscribing the Canadian psyche provides a powerful location for adult learning in general but particularly in situations serving immigrant and newcomers. This thesis develops a lens that contributes to a critical approach to the provision of Adult Education in settlement services, health education, work place training, language acquisition and other services that shape social relations between communities. These programs should incorporate critical theories to make transparent the 'real' history of Canada and students place in the nation.

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