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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Accommodation and cultural persistence : the case of the Sikhs and the Portuguese in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia Joy, Annamma


There are two themes that are explored in this thesis. The first is an examination of the process of acculturation, defined here as the process of learning skills and strategies native to another group. The second is comparative and examines the causes for the relative success that the Portuguese had in learning to accommodate and be accepted in Canada. By the same token the sources of acculturative stress for the Sikhs will be identified. The two groups are comparable along several dimensions such as age, education, skills, knowledge of English on arrival and so on. Learning to be effective in Canada means understanding and acting appropriately in given contexts. The spheres that I have identified as important are the workplace and the community in which they live. The other spheres that come under scrutiny as a result of the spillover of public activities and experiences are the family, and the sphere of religious beliefs and practices. The workplace, I argue, is a central institution wherein acculturation is imperative. Secondly, the establishment of individuals in the community is a crucial factor. While the formation of an ethnic enclave might serve as a support system for newcomers, it also isolates and separates them from others. The Sikh definition of identity is hierarchical, with religion providing an anchorage for all other spheres such as the family, caste, village, and occupation. In sort, individuals did not experience life activities as differentiated or unrelated. Given the contexts of ambivalence and hostility they perceived and/or experienced in Canada, the acquisition of new forms of thought were neither seen as a challenge nor a necessity; but as a threat to their identity. The Portuguese model, on the other hand, recognizes the distinction between public and private lives. To them being "Portuguese" and/or "Catholic" are primarily private matters. Also, by and large they gave importance to individual achievement over corporate identity. To them, acculturation and ethnic identity were complementary modes for the definition of themselves within the Canadian context.

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