Wednesday, May 19, 2010

History of Canada Culture

Canadian Culture and National Identity: A Revisionist Perspective: 2009
Jerry Y Diakiw

Many Canadians believe that there is no such thing as a Canadian culture or identity. It is widely felt that there is so much regional, cultural, ethnic, linguistic and religious diversity in this country that we do not, in fact, have a distinctive culture or identity. But even those who express this belief are quick to distance ourselves from our American neighbours and from our British and French roots. I argue, that there are in fact powerful commonplaces in our culture and identity, -- shared values that most Canadians can identify with. I also argue that the school is the most important place to explore, discuss and debate these commonplaces. In fact, as I will point out, historically, it has always been the school where a national culture has been promulgated, in country after country. I will also explore how in most cultures it is in the pre-teenage elementary school years where the culture is infused and inculcated, not in the secondary school years. Currently we put our greatest focus on Canadian literature and Canadian studies in our secondary programs, whereas I contend it should be more focused in the elementary school years. It is also my contention that it is not more Canadian history that we need, but a broader inter-disciplinary cultural studies program that is needed not more politics and history. Nor is it just a matter of including Canadian literature at the secondary school level. Historically it has been shown that it is in the early years before puberty that who we are, really comes into focus.

Schools in Canada and elsewhere have always conveyed cultural and political views, and they will continue to do so whether we like it or not. In the past, of course, these views were dominated largely by the white male European perspective of the most dominant powers in society; this is no longer true. The culture and identity we all share has become multi-faceted, multi-layered and not dominated by any one group. With each decade we morph into a more layered perspective and understanding of what is Canadian. The difficult task schools now face, therefore, is determining how to convey our culture and identity in a way that is inclusive of all Canadians, so that justice and equity are underlying principles of the curriculum.

How Cultures Have Traditionally Transmitted Their Values

In most culturally homogeneous countries, children grow up hearing and learning the stories that define their culture: myths, legends, folklore, historic tidbits, tales of heroes and villains, miraculous tales and tales of courage and achievement. These shared stories lie at the heart of a culture's identity. Literature, arts and crafts, music, dance, film, and poetry blend together over time to crystallize an image that says, "This is who we are." The shared stories provide a culture with its values and beliefs, its goals and traditions. The myths, legends, folk tales, histories, and experiences of any cultural group bind the individuals together to form a cohesive society which allows people to communicate with each other and to work together with a shared purpose. These common stories become the foundation of public discourse, and they are a source of pride in their community. The education of children is central to this process. According to E.D. Hirsch Jr.:

The weight of human tradition across many cultures supports the view that basic acculturation should largely be completed by age thirteen. At that age Catholics are confirmed, Jews bar or bat mitzvahed, and tribal boys and girls undergo the rites of passage into the tribe(30).

Hirsch traces how Korean children traditionally memorize the five Kyung and the four Su. In Tibet, boys from eight to ten read aloud and learn the scriptures, in Chile the Araucanian Indians use songs to leam the customs and traditions of their tribe. The Bushmen children of South Africa listen to hours of discussion until they know the history of every aspect of their culture.

Hirsch also traces how the education system has been used to convey a national culture in modem nations. Traditionally on any particular day in France, for example, each child in each grade would be reading the same page in the same textbook. In the history of American education, the text book has been a constant source of debate over attempts to control the culture transmitted through the schools.

Hirsch cites an example of the influence of one particular document in defining a culture. This one document was also central to the development of Canadian education as it was widely adopted across Canada. In 1783, Hugh Blair, a Scot from the University of Edinburgh published Lectures on Rhetoric and Belle Lettres, intended as a compendium of what every Scot needed to know if he or she were to read and write well in English. This book had enormous impact on curriculum in school systems throughout the English-speaking world. Widely used in Great Britain, US and Canada between 1783 and 1911, the book went through 130 editions! Blair defined English literary culture for use initially by the Scots, later by colonials like Canadians and Americans; and eventually it became the standard for educating Englishmen and women.

In Nations & Nationalism (1983), Ernest Gellner argues that, viewed from a historical perspective, it has been the school and not the home that has been the decisive factor in creating national cultures in modern nations. Literate national cultures, he maintains, are school-transmitted cultures. He asserts that the chief creators of the modern nation have been school teachers; they helped create the modern nation state. They perpetuate it and make it thrive. The history of Europe has shown that the schools play a major role in the creation of a national culture. Even in the United States with its many disparate groups, the schools have done much to create a national culture through such common shared stories, both real and imagined, as George Washington, Daniel Boone, Tom Sawyer, and Casey at the Bat, as well as through the promotion of strong central shared values and symbols of patriotism.

The history of the evolution of nationalism in country after country indicates clearly that a national culture is an artificially created construct. Gellner says, nation builders use a patchwork of folk materials, stories of heroes, old songs, legends, and historical tidbits, which are selected and re-interpreted by intellectuals to create a national culture, The cultural shreds and patches used by nationalism are often arbitrary inventions, any old shred or patch would have served as well.... Nationalism is not what it seems and above all, not what it seems to itself. The culture it claims to defend is often its own invention (56).

While these authors have illuminated for me how culture has been transmitted throughout history, including more recent periods of colonialism and the creation of the nation states, they also have unsettling implications. Hirsch, for instance, laments what he sees as the disintegration of central core values and a shared common knowledge in recent years. He argues for the need to identify what every American needs to know, and works to promote a return to a narrowly Eurocentric curriculum based on the glories of Greek civilization, the British Empire, and the Bible. While the European civilizations, and in particular, British and French traditions, are an integral part of our own Canadian identity, they are but one significant facet among many'

Yes the school is, and always has been a major purveyor of a national viewpoint. But what kind of a viewpoint do we want to promote for the future? Any examination of the curricula of the past reveals a program of indoctrination into the culture and mores of those in power. The old African proverb is still true: "Until lions have their own historians, tales of bravery and courage will be told about the hunter." Or, as Napoleon put it more bluntly, "History is a set of lies agreed upon"(cited in Wright 2). History is written by winners (Wright). The winners write the school curriculum and decide what stories will be told and what literature will be read.

As the child of immigrant Ukrainian parents in grade seven and eight in Toronto in the late 1940s, I vividly remember spending hours memorizing the Kings and Queens of England in chronological order. Later in high school I read the required stories and novels of Rudyard Kipling, Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, and the poetry of Tennyson and Wordsworth. I do not recall ever reading a single Canadian author. The children's books in the local library reflected this Anglo-centric curriculum. I grew up feeling that I was somehow an outsider in Canada despite the fact that I was born in the country. Nor was I alone: My research into the life histories of racial minority teachers in Canada reveals time and again that as students these young Canadians, while at last reading Canadian authors and learning about confederation rather than “1066 and all that” They still did read about their own cultures remarkable Canadian history. They did not see themselves reflected in the curriculum of their schools. The experiences of these Asian, South Asian and Black educators who were schooled in Toronto, illustrate how recently in our history, even they perceived the transmission of traditional culture as a major function of schools. It was clear who the winners were and they weren't at the victory party.

Revisioning the Traditional Culture

Since Prime Minister Trudeau proclaimed the policy of Multiculturalism in 1971, there has been a remarkable change in our official notions about our culture. Indeed, Trudeau said, "While we have two official languages we have no official culture, no one culture is more official than another" (italics mine). I have long celebrated Trudeau's statement; but the longer I ponder it the more I have difficulty with the words, "we have no official culture...." It seems to imply what many have said for decades, that Canada has no cultural identity at all. The insistence on no official culture has resulted in a backlash against multiculturalism, while multiculturalists struggle to stem the tide of racism and disempowerment.

Education, then, is caught between conflicting demands. As Grossberg suggests, “on the one hand, there is the discourse of multiculturalism and liberation which calls for a democratic culture based on social difference and which is usually predicated on a theory of identity and representation. On the other side there is a discourse of conservatism based on canonical notions of general education and a desire to impose what it cannot justify - the existence of an illusory common culture.(10)

Simply, there is a lament over the loss of a culture rooted in Western civilization and values, while there is a cry for a multicultural perspective based on social justice and equity. Must there be a dualism? Is there an alternative to these two positions? Amidst the remarkable diversity of this country are there inclusive commonplaces? Can a patchwork quilt of our stories welcome all Canadians?

It is helpful to review some history surrounding some of these issues. We have been inundated the last few years with critical examinations of the meaning and purpose of multiculturalism and its affects on the curriculum in the school. Popular best selling books like Hirsch's Cultural Literacy, Bibby's Mosaic Madness and Bissoondath's Selling Illusions have promoted a return to a traditionalist view. In Henry Giroux's view, they have "argued that multiculturalism posts a serious threat to the school's traditional task of defending and transmitting an authentic national history, a uniform standard of cultural literacy, and a singular national identity for all citizens to embrace" (1).

The heated position of the traditionalists is best demonstrated by Roger Kimbal's provocative statement:

Implicit in the politicizing mandate of multiculturalism is an attack on the idea of common culture, the idea that despite our many differences, we hold in common an intellectual, artistic, and moral legacy, descending largely from the Greeks and the Bible/supplemented and modified over the centuries by innumerable contributions from diverse hands and peoples. It is this legacy that has given us our science, our political institutions, and the monuments of artistic and cultural achievement that define us as a civilization. Indeed it is this legacy, insofar as we live up to it, that preserves us from chaos and barbarism. And it is precisely this legacy that the multiculturalists wish to dispense with. (6)

This position is widely held in Canada as well. The notion that our cultural mosaic and regional and ethnic differences can promote "chaos and barbarism" is a form of extremism that is not useful in promoting a constructive dialogue. The debate carries on as the current immigration minister urges a move to a more American style “melting Pot” and denying funding to heritage languages that have been traditionally allocated funds (Globe and Mail, March 26, 2009). An alternative is to think of culture as, in Gates' words, "a conversation among different voices." Is it possible, by identifying a set of commonplaces, to balance the traditionalist objective and yet incorporate a multicultural, inclusive and liberating perspective? Is it possible for diversity to be a source of cultural identity? Is the idea of multiple loyalties and identities possible within the framework of a national culture and identity?

I personally identify with my Ukrainian heritage, my Toronto and Ontario regional roots, with immigrant cultures, as well as feeling an overriding identity with Canada and even a pervading global outlook. Survey data indicate strong regional loyalties and identities in many parts of Canada, far stronger than any regional loyalties in the United States; yet the evidence shows that the stronger the regional loyalty, the stronger the identity with Canada (Lipset).

As individuals we hold a complex set of loyalties and cultural identities, particularly in Canada. We have a strong bond to place - neighbourhood or community; often a strong affinity to our bio-region - the Maritimes or the Prairies, for example; often also a bond to our ethnic and/or our linguistic heritage, and to our religious group; and finally, to our country. For many Canadians there is even a strong feeling of loyalty to, and identity with, the planet. We move in and out of our various "tribes" with ease and comfort. The complexity of our "tribal" relations is in fact quite extraordinary. We are a mass of hierarchical overlapping, shifting, often contradictory and conflicting loyalties and identities. To cite one such conflict: When Canada plays Italy in a world class competition who does an Italian-Canadian root for?

Given this complexity, one might ask why national identity and culture are so controversial. Among many academics, nationalism is a concept in disrepute. At one extreme, David Trend declares, "Nationality is a fiction. It is a story people tell themselves about who they are, where they live and how they got there" (225). And in Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, Benedict Anderson demonstrates how nationalism is only a recent phenomenon in human history. He finds its origins in the late eighteenth century, and points out three paradoxes about it. The first is "the objective modernity of nations to the historian's eye vs. their subjective antiquity in the eye of nationalists." The second is "the formal universality of nationality as a socio-cultural concept - the idea] in the modem world that everyone can, should, will 'have' a nationality, as he or she has a gender...." The third paradox is "the 'political' power of nationalisms vs. their philosophical poverty and even incoherence." Anderson comments that, as Gertrude Stein referred to Oakland, one can quickly conclude with respect to nationalism that "there is no there there"(2).

But despite his unwavering scorn for the concept of nationalism, Anderson reflects on the continuing process: And many 'old nations,' once thought fully consolidated, find themselves challenged by 'sub'-nationalism within their borders - nationalisms which, naturally, dream of shedding this sub-ness one happy day. The reality is quite plain: the 'end of the era of nationalism,' so long prophesied, is not remotely in sight. Indeed, nation-ness is the most universally legitimate value in the political life of our time. (3)

Why Culture and Identity Need to Be Addressed in the Schools

While many feel the concept of nation is an outdated notion harking back to a bygone era, but regardless of how we feel about this debate, as Anderson argues, nation-ness is with us. Nationalism is clearly not going to go away. It is unlikely we can do much about it. We can, however, make every effort to ensure that the manner in which our nation-ness is promoted in the school is based on democratic principles of justice and equity, concepts which also lie at the core of our Canadian commonplaces. As a pragmatist educator I am confronted with the problem of observing a gathering of fundamentalist, traditionalist and conservative forces which are erupting across this country and whose views are consistent with those of Roger Kimbal - that the legacy of western civilization and the Bible saves us from "chaos and barbarism." They are fanning a backlash and are profoundly influencing the policy-makers and practitioners to bring back their "common culture," a move which they see as a return to essentially an exclusive Eurocentric Christian society. They view the schools as having a central role in transmitting their view of our common culture through a common curriculum.

"Some argue that in an increasingly multicultural society there is a need for a common literacy; others propose that we are moving toward a culture of many literacies" (Trend 227). I propose bridging these two positions - that we work towards a common literacy as long as the common literacy is inclusive of all Canadians.

This sort of bridging of these positions requires a revisioning of our traditional notions of our culture. For example, we have to recognize the temporal character of culture. As Tomlinson points out, "There is no such thing as a single national culture that remains the same year after year. Nations are constantly assimilating, combining and revising their national characters" (as cited in Trend 229). In a speech given by Sheldon Hackney, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts in 1993, he claims, "All ethnic groups have permeable boundaries, and the meaning of any particular identity will change over time … History has a way of changing who we think we are." There is a Canadian identity that is different from the identities of any one of the ethnic groups that comprise the Canadian population, that is inclusive of all of them and that is available to everyone who is a Canadian. ( after Hackney)

Commonplaces of Canadian Culture and Identity

In order to provide a starting point for these discussions I have contemplated what commonplaces there are about Canada that most Canadians would agree on … at least as starting points for debate. In struggling to identity these commonplaces I have asked myself: Do these commonplaces provide ample latitude to address critical issues in our society? Do they provide for a new multicultural curriculum that provides opportunities for students to become, in Henry Giroux's term, "border crossers." As he states: "Teachers must be educated to become border crossers, to explore zones of cultural difference by moving in and out of the resources, histories and narratives that provide different students with a sense of identity, place and possibility" (1992. p 11 ). And finally, do these commonplaces reveal that there is a Canadian identity that is different from any one of the ethnic or regional identities that comprise the Canadian population, and are also different from an American identity.

To illustrate, for example, two commonplaces, that reveal some of the common understandings about our culture that dominate discussions in Canada and that are deeply embedded in our identity, are on the one hand our powerful regional identities, Quebec, the Maritimes, the Prairies, and on the other hand our perception of our international peace role and reputation, --our global interdependence as citizens of the world. It may be simplistic to suggest that our national identity is rooted in a recognition of both strong regionalism and internationalism. Our federalist system with its strong distribution of powers to the provinces, bilingualism and our multicultural policy, certainly support and enhance regionalism. Our long history as peace keepers and mediators; despite our recent participation in the war in Afghanistan, our participation in international organizations, our long involvement with developing nations, and our comparatively open immigration and refugee polices, confirm our global commitment as international or global citizens.

It may appear paradoxical to articulate a national identity or national culture based on the fragmentation of a country into distinct regions, two languages, distinct societies, First Nations, multi-cultures, and many faiths on the one hand, and striving towards global citizenship and responsibility on the other. Yet that is precisely what is happening today. Canada is in a significant way a microcosm of the world, where the forces for regionalism -former Yugoslavia, and the Soviet Union, India, Ireland and Scotland, and Quebec are a counterpoint to the forces for globalism -United Nations, freer trade, GATT, a United Europe, OECD, and OAS etc. There is room for considerable debate and discussion here.

Other commonplaces that reveal some central truths about our country that would be included for discussion or debate are; Canada, home of our First Nations; Canada, a nation of immigrants,--a nation of adventurers, inventors and entrepreneurs; Canada, a democratic nation with remarkable freedoms, but marked by equity struggles yet unfolding for First Nations, women, people of colour, and French Canadians; Canada, a nation with a strong sense of social welfare, --a social safety net is part of our tradition, and lastly, Canada, a wilderness nation, a land of awesome size and grandeur with savage beauty and obstacles. Despite our largely urban existence our wilderness preoccupies our psyche, our literature, our arts, and our mythology. These big themes or commonplaces are the "stuff" that myths are made of. They are the stuff that makes Canadians Canadian.

I have played with these themes and have evolved a set of ten commonplaces that emerge out of these simple notions. I believe they can provide the framework for a variety of approaches at the school level. They provide an alternative to the emotional discourse between the traditionalists and the multiculturalists. Not by resolving their differences entirely, but by providing a framework for constructive dialogue.

The commonplaces included here are not intended to be definitive and may be considered only as a starting point. They are at best a tentative and exploratory. Perhaps they should never be fixed and complete, but are always to be viewed in draft form in recognition of the fluid nature of culture formation. Each of the commonplaces is intended to capture a quintessential "given" about the nature of our Canadian culture and identity. While anyone conception may be characteristic of any number of countries, it is the unique layering of one conception over another, over another, that begins to merge into the warp and weft of the fabric of our Canadian identity.

The literature on Canadian culture and identity is replete with analyses of Canada compared to the United States. Certainly the experience of a shared history of occupation by Europeans, and a common Native American heritage on the same continent has resulted in many common cultural characteristics. However, the differences are significant and many of these differences have emerged in direct response to evolution of the United States. I have tried to reveal these powerful differences in each of the conceptions as they arose, but on reflection it may be necessary to develop an additional commonplace dealing directly with Canada's identity as a reflection of, or response to, the overwhelming presence and influence of the United States along our southern border. Herewith is my initial set of conceptions:

Commonplaces of Canada's Culture and Identity

1. Canada: A wilderness nation, a land of awesome size and grandeur, with savage beauty and incredible obstacles.

2. Canada: Home of our First Nations. Our Native roots are deeply entwined in our Canadian way.

3. ~~ Canada: A nation founded on European traditions by the English and the French.

4. Canada: A nation of Immigrants

5. Canada: A country of diverse and distinctive regions with powerful regional identities - Quebec, the Maritimes, the Prairies, for example.

6. Canada: A nation with a strong sense of social welfare committed to providing a social safety net for all.

7. Canada: A land of remarkable freedoms with a goal of equity for all regardless of sex, race, age, color, creed or disability

8. Canada: A land of adventurers, innovators and entrepreneurs

9. Canada: A land of rich cultural traditions

10. Canada: Peace-keepers for the world and a partner with all nations.
Canada: A wilderness nation, a land of awesome size and grandeur, with savage beauty and incredible obstacles.
Despite our largely urban existence our wilderness preoccupies our psyche, our literature, our arts, our mythology The majority of Canadians now live in urban centres strung out like a string of pearls along the southern border of Canada, but our vast, rugged wilderness and harsh climate dominate our history, mythology and our psyche. They form an indelible backdrop to our culture and identity. Our legacy of art, from Group of Seven paintings to totem poles, and our literature, painting and native oral traditions reflect an intimate relationship, even a preoccupation with the land. Canadians spend more money per capita on recreational equipment such as canoes, skis, and tents than any country in the world (Schafer, 1989). They visit provincial and national parks and conservation areas in higher numbers, per capita than other countries. A Canadian wilderness summer camp is a traditional experience for children of the wealthy as well as many children of the poor. For many, owning a cottage or camp is part of the Canadian dream. Our advertising and marketing campaigns capitalize on our penchant for the wilderness with images of shimmering lakes, majestic mountains and breath-taking seascapes, and the sounds of the call of the loon and pounding surf. Our economy too, is deeply rooted in the land. Forestry, fishing, mining, furs and farming have established the pattern of our settlement, and each has contributed to our mythology. In response to the immensity and the challenge of our landscape, Canadians have demonstrated remarkable ingenuity and innovation that has made Canada pre-eminent in many areas. Canada leads the world, for example, in cartographic expertise, and in innovation in telecommunications. The canoe, the kayak, the snowshoe, the snowmobile, CBC Radio, the Beaver Air plane and our contributions to satellite technology are all ingenious responses to coping with an immense and trying landscape. Even our constitutional wrangling and our unique federal system is a political reaction to a vast and diverse land. Our size and unique regions have engendered a system that demands compromise. The variety and majesty of our land is deeply embedded in our cultural identity and is a fundamental element of our mythology. William Lyon Mackenzie King (1936) captured an essence of Canada when he stated "If some countries have too much history, Canada has too much geography." The icons of our landscape, whether Atlantic or Pacific seascape, prairies or mountains, glacial north or lush St. Lawrence Lowland, are the "ground" upon which we see ourselves, as well as the way we are viewed by others.

2. Canada: Home of our First Nations. Our Native roots are deeply entwined in our Canadian way. Native Canadians have occupied the Americas for over 10,000 years and first migrated to North America as long ago as 30,000 years ago. Europeans first set foot in Canada only 1000 years ago (Vikings) and extensively only since Jacques Cartier, beginning in 1534. The imprint of native peoples on the evolution of Canada is profound. The early history of European intervention in North America was integrally linked with Native Canadian peoples, in many cases, as allies with the English or the French and often as adversaries in numerous conflicts. The ingenious response of native Canadians to the demands of travel in such a vast and rigorous landscape led to their invention of the canoe, the snowshoe and the kayak. Only through mastering the skills of these inventions was it possible for Europeans to explore, exploit, and occupy Canada. Native Canadian foods from cultivated crops such as corn, beans and squash, and food preservation techniques such as dried meat, -pemmican, and smoked fish, provided early travellers with the ability to survive the rigours of travel in Canada. They acted as guides, interpreters and negotiators for most of the early European explorations and trade and development. Less widely known is the influence of the lroquoian system of social organization on European thinkers like Montaigne, Hegel and Marx and on North American thinkers like Benjamin Franklin. The system of government in the United States and in Canada has its roots in the three level system of government practised by the Iroquois in the Iroquois Confederacy. Even the Eagle clutching five arrows in its claw(one for each of the five nations in the confederacy) was borrowed by the Americans as a symbol for the new nation. The American eagle now clutches thirteen arrows one for each of the original thirteen colonies. Canada's federal system of municipal, provincial, and federal governments was uniquely suited to uniting a large and disparate nation. The federal system in North America was unique among systems of government in the world at that time. Native words like caucus, a meeting of elders, have found their way into our political language. Historic Native Canadian attitudes toward the treatment of members of the tribe less fortunate than others smacks of another conception of our Canadian identity --our social safety net. It is intriguing to trace this distinguishing characteristic back to our Native Canadian roots. Engels, for example, stated, "This gentile constitution (the Iroquioan social system) is wonderful. There can be no poor and needy… All are free and equal --including women" (as cited in Wright. 1992, p. 117). The Iroquoian social safety net provided and early system of protecting all members of the society “from the cradle to the grave”. The role of women in Iroquioan society was at a level not attained in any country today. In a variety of ways the influence of Native Canadian life has entered into our collective heritage. The traditional Native Canadian religion with its respectful holistic attitude towards nature and the environment are receiving increasing respect and study. Native art has long held an important place in our record of the visual icons of our culture. The totems of the West coast, Inuit stone carvings and contemporary prints and paintings have achieved world wide recognition and appreciation. Native elements of fashion and design, permeate in subtle ways contemporary urban, as well as rural life, -moccasins, fringed jackets, beaded belts and necklaces and native design elements in fabrics. Thousands of Native names permeate our Canadian landscape, -Canada, Ottawa, Toronto, for starters. Strung together a list of names becomes a form of Canadian poetry. Just start at any point in the alphabet, for example: Abitibi, Aklavik, Algonkian, Alikomiak, and Assiniboia. Other words and phrases have entered the lexicon of everyday speech, for example, " passing the peace-pipe", or having a "powwow". The Native Canadian way of life has entered the mythology of our Canadian ethos. It has become part of us all. The image of native Canadians plying the silent waters of a wilderness lake in a canoe is emblematic of a kind of Canadian Garden of Eden, when a blissful balance with nature was achieved. Linda Hutcheson (1988), for example, examines the importance of Natives for white Canadian writers in seeking their own roots. The mistreatment of our Native peoples is an unfortunate but important commonplace of our history. The current legal battles over treaties, the social situation that exists on many reserves, and in inner cities and native Canadian struggles for self-government, attest to a response to an unfortunate record of misguided efforts (in the best of interpretations) or a record of ruthless, exploitative and racist actions. The reality of Native Canadians to-day trying to re-establish and rediscover their decimated way of life in the face of staggering rates of alcoholism, teen suicides, unemployment, and welfare is also part of our Canadian heritage. Native Canadians, as well as those south of the border are at the bottom on most measures of mortality and social morbidity (Richmond, 1988). It is only of comparative interest that it is clear that "native peoples have been better able to survive in Canada than in the United States." (Lipset, 1990. p.176)

3. Canada: A nation founded on European traditions by the English and the French.

While evidence of Viking settlements exist at Anse aux Meadows dating back to 1000, the early voyages of John Cabot and Jacques Cartier set the stage for the full scale invasion and occupation of the continent, first by the French and then by the English. Through the long intertwining history of their colonization, through settlement, trade and resource extraction, these two founding nations irrevocably altered the face of the northern part of the continent. The patterns of settlement, whether the seigneury system of the French or the section system of the English imprinted the landscape with a network of roads, farm patterns and towns with a decidedly European familiarity. While these early colonists were profoundly influenced by native American technologies such as the canoe, new foods and their method of cultivation and systems of government, they none-the-Iess firmly implanted their languages, religious values and institutions, the European form of democracy, in particular the parliamentary system, the tradition of both British common law and French civil law, as well as the system of schooling. A walk through any Canadian town or city reveals the unique juxtaposition of church, courthouse, town hall, banks and shops, school and residential streets characteristic of a European ordering of priorities. Despite a long history of the migration of peoples from every corner of the globe and the unmistakable contributions and impact of this rich "melange" to the unique character of Canadian culture, yet the building blocks of our culture are firmly planted in the world view of Western European civilisation, particularly the English and the French. Many of the crowning achievements of our Canadian culture emerge from the interface of the British and French presence within this vast and awesome Canada. Our institutional infrastructure, the way our country works, and our power base, is still largely of British origin in particular, French in Quebec. Judeo-Christian ethics, mores and beliefs still underlie our institutions and community life. Our calendar year is organized around a Christian schedule. Our public holidays are largely Christian-- Christmas and Easter. Our institutions often still attend to Christian rituals. The Bible is proffered to witnesses in the courts first before alternatives are made available, and Christian prayers are routinely recited at public meetings and meals. Whether it be in the models born in the industrial revolution that were applied to every field of endeavour from offices, to schools, to research labs, or to the form of our free market economy, or our views on art, the family, time and gender roles, these European Christian notions became the warp and weft on the loom of Canada. It is in Quebec that a unique ”nation” has been created within the Canadian nation State. And while the Battle on the Plains of Abraham is still a sore point in Quebec and the provincial motto points a finger. . . . “Je me souviens”, “I remember”, the rest of Canada is committed to keeping Quebec an integral part of the country. There has been a long, never-ending struggle for French Canadians to save their language and culture and several attempts to separate from the rest of Canada. It is important to remember, I think, how Quebeckers feel and why they feel that way. We need to find ways for them to explore these commonplaces or through some other institutional, educational way to welcome Quebeckers unrelentingly into the Canadian family, at every twist and turn in this tenuous balancing act of keeping Quebec inside Canada.

4 Canada: A Nation of Immigrants Canada has been forged as a nation "a mari usque ad mari," since the first contact with Europeans, through a continuous process of conquest and cooperation with the existing First Nation civilizations. The Vikings in the year 1000, John Cabot, Jacques Cartier and the early Spanish and Portuguese fishing crews began this long process. Viking, and French settlements including Jewish fur traders and farmers preceded the establishment of a British colony. The expansion and modernization of Canada was achieved through a remarkable process of immigration with wave upon wave of immigrant groups from England, Scotland, France and Ireland, United Empire Loyalists from the United States and Black slaves who arrived on the Underground Railroad. (There were more Blacks in Nova Scotia 200 years ago than there were Scots!) Successive waves of Chinese (as early as 1744), Ukrainians, Finns, Poles, Germans, Swedes, Italians, Portuguese and South Asians have all contributed to the very fabric of our country. Sikh and Indian settlers, for example, were among the very first to open up the B.C. timberlands in the late 19th century. More recently, immigrants from the Caribbean, South America, Africa, and other East Asian countries have increased the racial and ethno-cultural mix. Even before colonization, our First Nations co-existed as a multi-cultural entity. The complexity of distinct tribal cultures, with fifty-three distinct languages such as the Inuit, Haida, Blackfoot, Iroquois, Huron and Beothuk, mirrored the mosaic that modern Canada has become. This multiracial, multicultural, multilingual multi-faith reality, from the very origins of human life on this continent, as well as from the inception of the nation is a central pattern in the fabric of our culture and identity. The remarkable record is marred regrettably by many examples of racism, and while progress has continuously been made we are still not free of the destructive forces of racism. Dark moments in our history cast light on how we came to be who we are and are beacons to our future actions. It is important to study and explore how various groups have been marginalized and excluded from full participation in Canadian society while understanding the power and importance of our immigrant groups in the creation of a vibrant Canadian society

5. Canada: A land of remarkable freedoms with a goal of equity for all regardless of sex, race, age, color, creed or disability.

Canada has emerged as a democratic, multi-faith nation with equity is enshrined in our remarkable Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But, we are nevertheless, a nation marked by equity struggles yet unfolding, for First Nations, women, people of colour, gay and lesbians and even French Canadians. We often take for granted our democratic freedoms, but to the millions of Canadians who have immigrated to Canada over the last hundred years or so, it is one of our most cherished and distinguishing characteristics. The history of Canada is a history of the struggles to create a nation, a struggle for responsible government, for representative government, and for a confederacy that allowed for the regional, religious, linguistic and ethnic diversity that has come to represent Canada. The evolution of a parliamentary system in a confederacy modelled after the three level federal system of the Iroquoian Confederacy was a unique response to a vast land mass with diverse cultures, needs and interests in the population. It allowed for a greater democracy, a greater voice, by an ever increasing diverse population. These gains have not been without their price. Canada does not have an untarnished record on human rights. We must not forget that in forging this modern nation it was at the expense of the First Nations. The demise of many native tribes such as the Beotuk, are symptomatic of a ruthless period of exploitation and imperialism at any cost. Canada was not without its period of slavery. Anti-Semitism and racism have plagued our history as it has many other nations. There was a time when it was acceptable for a public official was able to say “None is too many”. (In reference to accepting Jews from Nazi Germany). The internment of the Japanese during World War II, Ukrainians in WWI, are examples of periods in our history when the bright lights of civil rights gains were extinguished. The rights of women, labourers and other minorities have similarly been thwarted at times in our evolution towards nationhood. But few countries can claim a better record of emerging out of these dark days. Canada abolished slavery before Great Britain or the United States. It proudly became the terminus of the Underground Railway. Towns like Buxton became model black communities producing the first black lawyers, school teachers and preachers in North America. The first Black civil war commander came from Buxton. The first female editor of a newspaper in North America, Mary Shadd Cary was a Black woman who made her way to Canada during this period. Clara Brett Martin was the first female lawyer in the British Empire. Emily Murphy was a Canadian women’s rights activist jurist and author who became the first woman magistrate in Canada, and in the British Empire. She is best known for her contributions to Canadian feminism, specifically to the question of whether women were "persons" under Canadian law. Other female Empire firsts included the first female member of a legislature, the first cabinet minister and the first female speaker of a legislature (Nader, 1992). Female politicians have made significant contributions for many decades. Women lead our political parties and have led our country as both Prime Minister and as Governor-General. It is of at least symbolic significance that we have had a Canadian of Ukrainian heritage as a Governor-General and both a Black and Chinese Canadians have held the positions of Governor-General as well as Lt-General in both Ontario and British Columbia. Canada is a world leader in policy development in equity issues. The Canadian Bill of Rights and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are landmark documents. Implementing them requires all our best efforts. The history of our constitutional wrangles, most recently Meech Lake and Charlottetown, while unsuccessful in achieving the goal sought by most Canadians, it is indicative of our relentless efforts of Canadians to try to achieve an accommodation of the varied regional, linguistic and cultural differences that comprise our complex nation. Other equity issues, such as pay equity, mandatory race relations policies in all institutions and work places, equal rights for homosexual Canadians, and one the first nations to legalize marriage between gays and lesbians, demonstrate the persistent attitudes toward equity as a central characteristic of our identity. While Americans struggle over gays in their armed forces, Canadians, in typically Canadian manner, quietly implemented gay rights in the armed forces without fanfare or disruption. While Canadians have proven to be more open to immigration by people of color than almost any other nation, accepting now about 200,000 new immigrants annually, the attitudes of some Canadians reveal an underlying pervading discrimination, particularly to people of colour. It is instructive however, that in 1991 ( Not, I should note during the subsequent recession), a Decima survey noted that 93% of Canadians thought that Canada was the best place in the world to live. The third most frequently cited reason for why this was so, was because of the way we received and welcomed new "immigrants" (Gregg and Posner, 1990). While the equity culture in Canada is still evolving and gapping inequities still exist, it is important to trace the continuous improvement that has been made and recognize that this trait of seeking improved democratic rights for all is deeply ingrained in our collective psyches. It is upon this frame that the complex pattern of Canada's multi-cultural tapestry was woven. . 6. Canada: A nation with a strong sense of social welfare committed to providing a social safety net for all.

Canada is a nation that prides itself on its ability to look after all its citizens. Brian Mulroney as Prime Minister referred to this characteristic of our national culture and identity as "a sacred trust." One might argue that the roots of this tradition lie in the size of Canada with its small population resulting in the need for more government control. It was in Tory tradition of greater government control that arose out of the counter revolution that resulted from the American Revolution. It is interesting to note however that this tradition was long established in Canada by native peoples. When Etienne Brule, at Samuel Champlain's request, wintered over with the Hurons on the shores of Georgian Bay in 1610, a Huron chief's son was sent to Paris for the winter in exchange as an insurance for Brule's safety. When the Huron returned from Paris he shocked his fellow Iroquois with stories of the beggars on the streets of Paris, the brutal public treatment of children, and even the barbaric punishment of criminals in public squares. These practices were all so foreign to the Hurons whose traditions involved looking after all of its members, -where no-one was destitute or everyone was. The notion of care "from the cradle-to-the-grave", has a long tradition in Canada, long before a European put his foot on our land. Robertson Davies referred to Canada as "a socialist monarchy", while our neighbours to the south have always abided by Thomas Jefferson's adage that, "The government that governs best, governs least." Canada's social safety net certainly distinguishes itself from the United States. It is one characteristic of our identity that most Canadians would agree on. In a 1988 poll for example, 95% of Canadians preferred their own Medicare system to the American one, as did 61 % of Americans! (Lipset, 1990). Canada early embraced comprehensive social welfare programs including compensation for widows and persons with disabilities, enriched unemployment insurance benefits, post-secondary education programs covering significant portion of student costs, universal old age pensions, man-power training allowances, subsidized housing, and family allowances, in addition to the universal Medicare system mentioned above. Public support, as well as support by civil servants and legislators for social initiatives is very high in Canada. For example, Canadian conservative legislators scored much higher than even American Democratic legislators on a scale of support for economic liberalism or social welfare issues. Even in recessionary times when cutbacks to social services are often in evidence it is important to recognize the short and long term trends remain the same, -Canadians continue to support this distinguishing characteristic of our identity and we continue to move inexorably forward. For example, just twenty years ago half the people living in poverty were over 65 years of age, by 1990 the proportion was less than 15%. In a series of polls and surveys (Gregg and Posner 1990, Upset, 1990), Canadians continue to view themselves as more tolerant, less violent, more concerned about the environment and the disadvantaged, both at home and abroad, and more peaceful than our neighbours to the south. When 93% of respondents indicated they believed Canada to be the best place in the world to live (Gregg and Possner, 1990). Ninety percent thought this to be true because of our health care system, 78% thought it was our education system and 74% thought it was because of the way we welcomed immigrants of different races, religions and cultures into our society. This type of prevailing attitude is indicative of the characteristic of a "quieter, gentler nation."

7. Canada: A country of diverse and distinctive regions with powerful regional identities - Quebec, the Maritimes, the Prairies, for example.

Canada's distinctive regions, particularly British Columbia and the Rockies, the Prairies, the North, Southern Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes, have contributed to a unique character to Canada's cultural identity. Regional loyalties are powerful in Canada and regional cultures are distinctive. Confederation, with a carefully articulated division of powers between the provinces and the central government, recognized this diversity and enshrined this characteristic of our identity in a unique distribution of powers. The continuing struggles over these regional identities manifest themselves daily in everything from large scale examinations of power sharing at constitutional conferences, and inter provincial trade discussions, to squabbles between English-speaking Canada and French Canada, or between the West and Bay Street, the symbol of central Canadian power. But aside from these perennial power struggles, Canadians generally cherish this regional diversity, as they have other forms of diversity. The icons of our regionalism conjure up the flavours of our nation. Majestic snow-capped mountains and deep fiords, totem poles, lush temperate rainforests, prosperous urban streets with a variety of Canadians including Sikhs, and Chinese evoke our Pacific region; the skyline of Quebec city, French Canadian villages centered in the seigneury system, around the local church, along the shores of the St. Lawrence, maple syrup runs, Carnival, Sovereigntists parading the streets on St. Jean Baptist Day, conjure up another. Our distinctive rugged sea-torn Maritime provinces rooted in Acadian, Micmac and Scottish cultures, our immense Prairies crowned with grain elevators, immense herds of cattle and oil wells, peopled by hard-working decedents of many central European countries,--Ukrainians, Poles, Germans, Finns, as well as Chinese descendants of labourers from the building of the Trans-Canada Railway along with Blackfoot and Cree, reflect two other regions. Some analysts argue that Canada has no distinct national style (Lipset, 1990) and that Canada is reflected more through its regionalism. As George Woodcock(1987) stated, "Canadian literature like Canadian painting has always remained regional in its impulses and origins" (p.32). Saturday Night Magazine (January, 1987) in a special issue entitled Our Home and Native Land concluded that what makes Canada like no other is the variety of its regions and communities --in effect, that Canada's identity is defined by its regions. Certainly our regional richness has always been one recurring characteristic of our national identity and this reveals itself through our arts, our economy and our political process. Lipset(1990) argues that this emphasis on region in Canada results in a stronger sense of place than in the United States. This strong regional loyalty has been apparent through many surveys, yet this strong sense of place regionally is positively correlated to high rankings of loyalty towards the country. David Elkin (1980) noted that except for Quebec Separatists, that Canadians' "deep and abiding sense of place covers both nation and province" (p. 209). Canada is more decentralized politically with stronger regional identities than the United States but still maintains a strong sense of Canadian loyalty. This is clearly one of our distinguishing characteristics.

8. Canada: A land of adventurers, innovators and entrepreneurs

Historically, this continent was explored, settled, and developed by unique individuals with a willingness to venture to a new land against unknown odds and under difficult circumstances. Canada shares with its neighbour to the south many of the same characteristics of adventurers willing to take on new challenges, to be inventive and innovative, -a penchant for risk-taking and entrepreneurialism. The continuous wave of new immigrants, and refugees, has ensured an ethos of energy, renewal and risk taking. While many argue that conditions in the United States have led to a greater spirit of adventure and risk-taking than in Canada, it is still only a matter of degree. By any standard world-wide, Canadians have demonstrated this adventurous spirit in many fields i.e. Canada First (Nader et al, 1992). Certainly our mythology is replete with individuals that attest to this characteristic of our identity. Whether it be historic icons like Jacques Cartier, Henry Hudson, Samuel Champlain or Lief Erickson, the Coureur de Bois, the early Jesuits, the early pioneers of Upper and Lower Canada, the crew of the Blue Nose, the hardy men in sheep skin coats, the "sod-busters" of the prairies, gold rush miners, the Chinese "Coolies" working on the Canadian Pacific Railway, or Black American slaves escaping to Canada on the underground railway, they all share remarkable traits of courage and daring and a willingness to take risks. Many Canadians have demonstrated this entrepreneurial courage and initiative through business enterprise and have become household names in other parts of the world. The Bronfmans, the Reichmans, Lord Beaverbrook, the Mirvishes, Rim’s Jim Balsillie Armand Bombardier and Lord Thompson of Fleet, and innumerable real estate barons are a few examples of Canadians who have ventured into the international arena with great fanfare and with remarkable success. Canada has encouraged through its immigration policy, entrepreneurs from other countries. Chinese immigrants in particular have found Canada a conducive environment for entrepreneurial activity. Is it surprising that the Deans of the leading three business schools in the United States are all Canadian?~ Risk-taking is also a required trait for invention and innovation. Nader et aI., in their book Canada Firsts (1992) and Brown in , Ideas in Exile: A History of Canadian Invention (1967) have chronicled the remarkable number of inventions and innovations Canadians have made, including five Nobel prize winning scientists. From Fuller brushes, the zipper, the paint-roller, Pablum, frozen and instant foods and Trivial Pursuit, to ground breaking medical discoveries by Banting and Best, Hans Selye and Wilder Penfield, to high tech. communications firsts such as the first communications satellite, Telesat, the Blackberry, the Canadarm, the Imax film format and remarkable innovations in mapping technology. The paradox exists that in comparison to many nations, Canadians are very conservative with their money,-for example they have higher insurance coverage per capita than other countries, invest in the stock market far less than Americans and have shown to be less inclined to participate in high-risk investments or to develop their inventions or innovations at home, often leaving development to their neighbours to the south (Brown, 1967). But modesty is also a Canadian trait and we are less inclined to tout our achievements. Certainly the record stands of a highly inventive and innovative population with a long tradition of adventure, exploration and entrepreneurialism, even though it often takes an American like Ralph Nader to point this out to us.

9. Canada: A land of rich cultural traditions Canada's unique history, its vastness and its complex multicultural mix has contributed to a rich cultural tradition. Cultural in this section pertains particularly to all of the arts, leisure and pastimes that occupy or entertain the citizenry: From the folk arts of fiddling, spoons and square dancing, decorated Easter eggs, totem poles, quilts and ceramics; to ballet, opera, symphony, theatre, movies and television, poetry and literature; as well as popular participative sports across Canada like curling, hockey, skiing. golf, bowling, softball and t-ball; to spectator sports like baseball, ice skating, football and hockey. One could also include a whole range of other popular activities or pastimes,-from such diverse activities as camping, and canoe tripping, attending multicultural events such as the Highland Games in Nova Scotia, Caribbana, Quebec Carnival, the Calgary Stampede and visiting art galleries, or attending rock, classical, jazz or choral and folk performances, picnicking, camping, watching television or jogging. The list could go on but the unique combination of these many activities by region and nationally paints a distinctive picture of who we are as a people. Though many of these activities are common to all North Americans, together in a particular place, in a particular combination they enter into a union with other cultural characteristics to provide a unique Canadian perspective and flavor. The culture of the hockey rink or curling rink presents a unique Canadian image. Yet when the Toronto Blue Jays, playing the game the Americans call their own, played and won the World Series, in both 1992 and 1993 Canadians rallied round the Blue Jays from coast to coast, in a unique Canadian way, even though only one player was a Canadian. It was ironic that this American spectacle, the World Series, became such a unifying national event in Canada. Our visual arts , in particular, evoke a powerful image of our nation particularly in its physical splendour. The work of the Group of Seven artists and painters like Emily Carr, Alex Colville, William Kurelek and Mary Pratt captured images of Canada that haunt us and delight us. More contemporary artists like Jean-Paul Riopelle, Michael Snow, and Jack Bush have contributed to new art forms and styles in a Canadian setting. Our many authors have described and contributed to our culture through story and have achieved world wide recognition in doing so. Margaret Atwood, Gabrielle Roy, Robertson Davies, Rohinton Mistry, Margaret Lawrence, Austin Clarke and Michael Ondatje are a few recent names with such a claim. The legendary Northrop Frye and Marshall McLuhan, as well as Charles Taylor, have distinguished themselves in their respective literary fields. The Canada Council has made a unique contribution to our rich cultural heritage. As a federal funding agency to support the arts, humanities, and social sciences, it has contributed millions of dollars to support individuals and organizations. Along with other provincial Arts councils and a variety of Canadian content requirements in CRTC, as well as other legislation, have reaped considerable rewards in the promotion and development of Canadian artistic talent. Many successful artists profess they would not have been able to carryon in their chosen artistic careers had it not been for the support of such legislation and government grant support. Certainly the thriving regional theatre system, and the internationally regarded National Ballet, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Ballet Jazz De Montreal, the Vancouver, Toronto, Regina and Montreal symphonies, the Canadian Opera Company, and the Stratford and Shaw festivals would be hard pressed to survive without this kind of support. This public support for a wide variety of cultural activities from opera to rodeos is unique in North America. It is certainly in marked contrast to our neighbour to the south where the free market rules the arts or groups are dependent on private foundations. A unique manifestation of this kind of support is the National Film Board created by an act of government in 1939. Famed world-wide for its documentaries and animation, it has won thousands of film awards. Fifty-seven films have been nominated for academy awards and nine have won. The work of the NFB in both the English and French divisions has been a remarkable achievement and has made a major contribution to our cultural heritage and identity. CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, has similarly had a profound influence on our Canadian identity. The creation of the CBC, initially as a radio network, was designed to link the country together by the airwaves. It has been a powerful antidote to the continuous barrage of American mass media that many Canadians feel puts Canadian culture at risk. For many English speaking Canadians, Don Messer's Jubilee, The Happy Gang, Fresh Air, As it Happens, and the Airfarce, This Hour has 22 Minutes, and Little Mosque on the Prairies are part of their cultural heritage. For French-Canada, the rich melange of programs on Radio Canada provides the same ties that bind. While television has not been as successful in creating a national image, non-the-Iess a legacy of outstanding programs linger on in our collective memory such Ann of Green Gables, the Famille Plouffe, and Sunshine Sketches not to mention Hockey Night in Canada. On both networks, radio and TV, the production of current affairs programming has always been exceptional; the National, Man Alive, Fifth Estate, Nature with David Suzuki, to name just a few. Northrop Frye (1982) noted that the NFB and CBC radio, had a significant influence on the maturing of Canada's culture and giving it a place internationally. Native Canadian artists, authors and film-makers are increasingly creating a new artistic heritage to match their historic legacy such as rock paintings, totem poles, Inuit stone carvings and masks. Modern creations such as the work of Tomson Highway, the design of the Museum of Civilization, many fine Native Canadian films including the stunning documentary, Kahnestake and the rich variety of paintings and sculptures by contemporary Native artists such as Norval Morrisseau and Ashoona Pitseolak attest to a thriving renaissance of a Native Canadian voice.~ While Canadian artists have often complained that it is difficult to achieve recognition in Canada, many have gone on to national prominence in the USA or elsewhere. Canadians do not often think of themselves as funny but the legacy of comics from Canada working in the USA is staggering, including; Michael J. Fox, John Candy, Dan Ackroyd, Eugene Levy, Leslie Nielsen, Martin Short, Mike Myers, Kids in the Hall, Andrea Martin, Rick Moranis, Howie Mandel, Sandra Shamus, Jim Carey and producers like Lorne Michaels. Less comic but equally visible on the major American national news networks are the large number of Canadian commentators and news broadcasters including Robert McNeil of the McNeil Lehrer Report, Morley Safer, the recent Peter Jennings, Mark Phillips, Hilary Brown , Ali Velshi and J. D. Roberts . As well there is a long history of Canadian actors and directors from silent screen stars like Mary Pickford and Norma Shearer to contemporary Canadian actors like Keifer Sutherland, Pamela Anderson, Neve Campbell, Victor Garber, Donald Sutherland, Genevieve Bujold, Colleen Dewhurst, Kate Nelligan, Kate Reid, Ryan Gosling, Seth Rogan, Margo Kidder and the legendary director Norman Jewison As well, musicians like David Foster, Paul Anka, Dianne Krall, , Celine Dion, Bryan Adams and Neil Young have all contributed to our Canadian identity even when they have made their name and achieved their fame in the United States. Canada's talent pool of technical expertise in movie-making and recording and attractive tax/investment incentives has led to the development of a Hollywood North. Vancouver and Toronto vie for this title. While many Canadians fear the loss of their identity in the face of the enormous media machine to the south, the reality is that we do share in many ways a common North American heritage and culture. None-the-Iess, the complex web of relationships between the various conceptions of our identity in Canada continues to sustain a healthy and vibrant self-image that confirms for most Canadians the existence of a rich Canadian cultural identity including a French Canada with its distinct culture.

10. Canada: Peace-keepers for the world and a partner with all nations. Canadians have long prided themselves on their role as peace-keepers and their stature internationally as a nation that could be trusted and relied upon. It is fitting and appropriate that Lester B. Pearson received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for his plan to provide the first UN peace-keeping force in the Suez Crisis in Egypt. All Canadians felt they shared in that award and Canadians have always looked on peace-keeping since that time with a 'proprietary air.' His achievement symbolised a role for Canada that~ Canadians have consistently lived up to. Canada has been involved in hundreds of successful peace-keeping missions on behalf of the United Nations, most particularly in Israel, Cyprus, former Yugoslavia and the Congo. Most recently Canada ha preformed a different role conducting a war in Afghanistan, a war ostensibly against terrorism but underlying that war is a powerful defence of civil liberties especially fro the rights of women and girls. A major part of the budget for that war is for humanitarian endeavours. Beyond the front lines of border patrols Canada’s reputation has led to Canada being called upon by other international organizations to serve in a mediator role, most notably in Laos and Cambodia as part of a three nation International Commission. As well, Canada has a long tradition of peace movements from within its private citizenry. The Quakers and Mennonites in Canada, for example, have always spoken out against war and militarism. Dozens of organizations sprang up in the fifties and sixties such as The Pugwash Conference of Scientists, The Canadian Peace Research Institute, Voice of Women, Project Ploughshares, and Canadian Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. These groups have had a significant influence on Canadian public opinion over the years and thus have made a contribution to the way this commonplace of Canada as a peace-keeping nation has entered into our cultural mythology. The fact that Superman was a Canadian creation perhaps symbolizes the fantasy of Canadians as defenders of good against evil,-with not an aggressive bone in our bodies. Even Clark Kent, quiet and unassuming, seems to fit the image of the stereotypical Canadian. But we are far more active internationally than just peace-keeping. Canada is committed to active involvement world-wide and we have made our mark internationally in a number of political ways. Our involvement in NATO, the OECD, OAS, GATT, G8, G20, represents a few of these involvements. Canada has also provided leadership to developing countries through CIDA, CUSO, and WUSC. All are well known acronyms world wide. Canada World Youth and Canadian Crossroads International have been successful youth initiatives with thousands of Canadians proudly listing those experiences on their resumes. Canadian involvement in assisting developing nations is quite remarkable and contributes significantly to our conception of Canada as a nation of global citizens. With citizens with relatives and heritages in every 'nook and cranny' in the globe, it is perhaps fitting that we show leadership in creating a single global perspective as opposed to our present preoccupations with nationalism. This view of ourselves as a peace-keeping, global nation is part of our identity.

Conclusion: Keeping the conversation going

I have stepped into controversial territory in daring to articulate ten commonplaces of our culture. I offer them up as suggestions for consideration. I believe it is possible to put forward a set of debatable commonplaces that reveal a Canadian identity that is different from any of the other ethnic and regional identities that exists in Canada, but that includes all of them. However, these may not be the right commonplaces, or there may be a different way of organizing or presenting them. They are one initial attempt. If they promote further discussion and debate about Canadian culture and identity then I have achieved my goal. Henry Giroux(1992) quotes Bhikhu Parekh's definition of multiculturalism, which appropriately fits within the intent of my conception of the commonplaces of our identity:

Multiculturalism doesn't simply mean numerical plurality of different cultures, but rather a community which is creating, guaranteeing, encouraging spaces within which different communities are able to grow at their own pace. At the same time it means creating a public space in which these communities are able to interact and enrich the existing culture and create a new consensual culture in which they recognize reflections of their own identity ( p. 7). We know that the school is a major purveyor of a political viewpoint. It always has been, and always will be. If we recognize this influence, we can promote a viewpoint that is reflective of all Canadians and that commits us to a continuing search for equity and a society for the new millennium that is free of racism and inequities. I believe these discussions can lead to a dialogue on the commonplaces of our culture that will further our democratic goals and provide a climate committed to social justice and equity. It behooves us to argue, debate, and discuss our commonplaces rather than to focus always on our differences. The "big" themes or commonplaces of Canadian culture and identity can assist us in suggesting an interdisciplinary core program for study or discussion that contributes to a truly just, equitable and inclusive society, for every grade from Kindergarten to grade twelve in every school in Canada. It is not our purpose to dictate what the Canadian identity is, but to create an open environment for debate and discussion, where we are not searching for a final definition. As Richard Rorty has argued, it is not so important to arrive at the absolute truth as it is to "keep the conversation going" (1982). Through this collective patchwork quilt of the shared stories , emerging from each of these commonplaces, we can create "a community of memory". We can reveal our Canadian culture and identity in a way that allows Canadians from all regions, French and English speaking, Native, of diverse racial and ethno cultural backgrounds to "recognize reflections of their own identity" - in a way that says, "This is who we are." Let us use this flexible framework of commonplaces for discussing our national culture and identity and “keep the conversation going”.

How could these commonplaces be used? These ten commonplaces then, represent a structure or format for a dialogue on the understanding of our culture and identity from a multicultural perspective. As examples, I propose a number of curriculum projects that would use these conceptions as the organizing principles around which the curriculum would be constructed. I have provided elsewhere many examples of ways in which these commonplaces can be introduced into the existing curriculum. See, Diakiw, J. "The school's role in revealing the commonplaces of our national culture and identity: A multicultural perspective ", Multicultural Education The State of the Art National Study, Report #4 Ed Keith A McLeod Winnipeg Canadian Association of Second Language Teachers, 1996 and Canadian Children’s Literature Quarterly~ 87,vol 23 3, fall, 1997, 49.

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