UBC Undergraduate Research

On the Bottom of the Multicultural Totem Pole: A History of Cultural Assimilation, Appropriation, and Marginalization in Canada Oledzki, Daniel Eric


Canada’s contemporary multiculturalism is unstably founded on an incomplete dominant historical narrative. The discrepancy between the actual narrative and Canadian historical consciousness is perpetuated by the federal government’s production of a dominant historical narrative that serves a sense of a multicultural national identity, the success of immigration policies, and the security of a Canadian polity. By specifically studying totem poles, this thesis seeks to highlight the depth and complexity of culture that existed in pre-colonial Canada. This thesis will also highlight the historical cultural clash between Indigenous and colonial worldviews, appropriation of elements compatible with federal multiculturalism, and historiographical marginalization of those elements that proved problematic. This historical discussion concludes by presenting the resulting issues, as well as proactive solutions to help create a contemporary ethos of equality in Canada based on a solid historical foundation, both within and outside of the academic sphere.

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