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Racial & Ethnic Issues in Canada

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1 Racial & Ethnic Issues in Canada
Social Problems Racial & Ethnic Issues in Canada

2 Canada’s Demographic Composition
2001 Census: 18.4% of population of Canada is foreign-born 13.4% claimed visible minority status 4.4% have Indigenous status Of the 29,639,035 responses on the 2001 Census, only 11,682,680 called themselves “Canadian” (39.4%) A vision for Canada must be inclusive and based on collective endeavour to eradicate racism (see for more!)

3 Multiculturalism Canada recognizes two types of multiculturalism
Traditional multiculturalism focuses on individual rights Modern multiculturalism is concerned with the survival of cultural groups Federal policy on multiculturalism has been criticized for emphasizing group differences and for its perceived special treatment of minority groups Aboriginal fight for autonomy is yet another complication of Canadian multiculturalism. We pride ourselves on being a multicultural society, yet….

4 The Problem of Nationalism
Nationalism is produced by an 'us' and 'them' orientation. Tends to be destructive to multiculturalism. Two types of nationalism: A community of citizens who express loyalty and patriotic attachment to a shared set of values, constitutes civic nationalism. Ethnic nationalism involves a tracing of roots, and a search for identity, and political recognition.

5 Race and Ethnicity Race and ethnicity are not necessarily connected
racial groups are set apart from others because of visible physical differences ethnic groups differ from others on the basis of national origin or distinctive cultural patterns.

6 Racism and Ethnic Inequality as a Social Problem
Ethnic group: a category of people who are distinguished by others or themselves on the basis of cultural or nationality characteristics Race is considered a social construct some use the term racialized group a category of people who have been singled out, by others or themselves, as inferior or superior, on the basis of subjectively selected physical characteristics like skin colour or eye shape

7 Roots of “Race” Classification schemes since 1700s Politics of “race”:
Traits somewhat arbitrary: Why skin colour and not eye colour? Eg. Jane Elliot’s experiment in “Eye of the Storm” (1970) and A Class Divided (PBS 1985) Watch the video at Politics of “race”: people perceive others to be different, and use perceptions to justify differential treatment

8 Majority and Minority Groups
Majority (or dominant) group is one that is advantaged and has superior resources and rights in society Minority (or subordinate group) is one that is disadvantaged, subjected to discrimination, and regards itself as an object of discrimination, e.g., people of colour, disabled, and gays,lesbians, and trans people

9 Minority Groups in Canada
The “Longitudinal Survey of Immigrants to Canada” (The Daily, Statistics Canada, 2005) indicates that on the whole, new immigrants are happy with choice to come to Canada, but face many difficulties: 46% said finding an adequate job 26% said learning English or French

10 Minority Groups (cont.)
Visible minorities: Largest group are Chinese, with a population aged 15 and over of 834,145 (3.5% of population) Next largest groups are South Asians, with a population of 688,735 (2.9%), and Blacks, with a population of 467,090 (2.0%) Visible minorities face the additional problems of prejudice, discrimination as well as higher rates of victimization (see

11 White Privilege and Internalized Dominance
White privilege: privilege that accrues to people who have “white” skin, trace their ancestry to Europe, and think of themselves as European Canadians or WASPs Internalized dominance: all the ways that White people learn they are normal, feel included, and do not think of themselves as “other” or “different”

12 Hate groups in Canada Neo Nazis Christian Identity Movement
Holocaust Denial group (Ernst Zundel was one of Canada’s most prolific Holocaust deniers) Racist Skinhead groups (Individuals from groups such as the Northern Hammerskins, the Final Solution Skins, the Aryan Resistance Movement (ARM) have been responsible for assaults, gay-bashing and murder in Canada) For more see Facing Hate in Canada (CCRF)

13 Hate in London, ON

14 Social Exclusion of Minorities
Social exclusion of minorities is due to selective ethnic and racial inclusion by the majority group Exclusion occurs because one group wants to defend its social status or resources against another Minority groups are seen as 'others', and barriers are built against them when they are perceived as competition. Historically immigrants were shunned, and tolerated only because Canada needed their labour.

15 The Vertical Mosaic in Canada
John Porter calls Canadian society a vertical mosaic English and French Canadians exist at the top of the economic hierarchy and ethnic minorities are situated at or near the bottom The vertical mosaic persists because of several factors such as exclusionary practices by the majority, and migration and self-organizing practices Vertical mosaic is a system of racial stratification: System of inequality in which race is the major criterion for rank and rewards

16 Racism, Prejudice, and Discrimination
Racism: a set of attitudes, beliefs, and practices used to justify the superior treatment of one racialized group and the inferior treatment of another racialized group Ethnocentrism: the assumption that one’s own group and way of life are superior to all others (positive and negative forms)

17 Racism, Prejudice, and Discrimination
Prejudice is an irrational, negative attitude about people based on such characteristics as racialization, gender, age, religion or sexual orientation Expressions of prejudice range from antilocution to hate crimes. Stereotypes are overgeneralizations about the appearance, behaviour, or other characteristics of all members of a group

18 Racism, Prejudice, and Discrimination
Two main categories of discrimination: Individual discrimination consists of one-on-one acts by members of the dominant group that harm members of the subordinate group or their property Institutional discrimination consists of the day-to-day practices of organizations and institutions that have a harmful impact on members of subordinate groups

19 Does racism exist in Canada?
A 2007 Leger Marketing survey found 47% of Canadians admitting to being at least slightly racist Also found 92% have witnessed racist behavior A 2005 Ipsos-Reid survey found that 17% of respondents believed they have been victims of racism. (from Canadian Race Relations Foundation)

20 Racism in Canadian Society
Racial attitudes in Canada have become more tolerant in recent decades. Yet, a recent study of 120 York University students indicates that while people may not be overtly racist, they are indifferent to overt racism of others Read People 'indifferent' to racism, study suggests (Jan. 8, 2009) Those with the greatest difficulty in accepting other races believe that race is a biological fact as opposed to a socially constructed idea.

21 Robert Merton’s Typology of Prejudice and Discrimination
The relationship between prejudice and discrimination is complex Four patterns: 1. Unprejudiced nondiscriminatory – integration 2. Unprejudiced and discriminatory – institutional discrimination 3. Prejudiced and nondiscriminatory – latent bigotry 4. Prejudiced and discriminatory – outright bigotry

22 Forms of Racism in Canadian Society
Interpersonal racism: red-necked (explicit), e.g., Heritage Front and polite (implicit) racism (Pattern #4, according to Merton) Institutional (intentional) racism: e.g., employment restrictions to groups, and systemic (unintentional) racism, e.g., height and weight restrictions (Pattern #2, according to Merton)

23 Forms of Racism in Canadian Society (cont.)
Societal racism: unconscious patterns that perpetuate a racialized order, e.g., colour symbolism (Pattern #2, according to Merton) Everyday racism: seemingly benign ideas about the relative superiority or inferiority of certain groups (Pattern #3, according to Merton)

24 Forms of Racism in Canadian Society (cont.)
Active racism: an act intending to exclude or make a person feel inferior because of his/her minority group status Passive racism: an act of being complicit in another’s racism Cultural racism: values that reinforce the interests of the dominant group and undermine the interests of the subordinate group, e.g., hostility to employment equity

25 Biological and Cultural Explanations for Racial and Ethnic Inequality
Deficiency Theories Biological: Arthur Jensen, Richard Herrnstein Belief that the inferiority of some racial groups is the result of flawed genetic traits There is no definitive evidence for support Generally not accepted by scientific community Cultural: Hypothesis is that life-style (culture) of minority groups is flawed and is responsible for group’s inferiority status Classic example of blaming the victim Ignores social opportunities that affect groups in different ways Many social scientists oppose cultural theories

26 Sociological Perspectives
Functionalist Perspective believe that inequality benefits society by allowing for the discussion of a wider range of opinions, perspectives, and values also maintain that inequality produces social conflict that intensifies people's sense of identity and belonging, as well as gives groups more cohesion along with a better sense of purpose

27 Perspectives (cont.) According to functionalists, groups interact to preserve the system in several “functional” ways: Assimilation: members of racialized and ethnic groups become absorbed into the dominant culture Amalgamation: cultural attributes of diverse groups are blended together to form a new society Anglo-conformity model: pattern of assimilation in which members of racialized/ethnic groups are expected to conform to the culture of the WASPs Ethnic pluralism: coexistence of diverse racialized/ethnic groups with separate identities and cultures with a society Segregation: the spatial and social separation of categories of people by racialization, ethnicity, class, gender, religion, or other characteristics

28 Perspectives (cont.) Conflict perspective
focus is on how one group more than another benefits from differentiation, exclusion, and institutional racism.

29 Perspectives (cont.) According to Conflict theorists, inequalities are created through: Internal colonialism: members of a racialized/ethnic group are conquered, or colonized and forcibly placed under the economic and political control of the dominant group, e.g., treatment of Indigenous people Genocide: the deliberate, systematic killing of an entire people or nation Theory of racial formation: the government substantially defines racialized and ethnic relations, e.g., governments attract people from various parts of the world according to types of workers needed

30 Perspectives (cont.) Interactionist Perspective
Looks at the social construction of ethnic differences and the subordination of minority groups, through racial labels

31 Perspectives (cont.) Interactionists and Social Constructionists study: Racialized socialization: social interaction containing messages and practices about the nature of racialized groups, e.g., Personal and group identity Inter-group and individual relationships One’s position in social stratification White “racial” bonding: living near and socializing with other Whites

32 Perspectives (cont.) Feminist and Anti-Racist Perspectives:
Gendered racism: interactive effect of racism and sexism in exploiting Indigenous and visible minority women Intersectional theorizing: a move toward an understanding of the myriad ways in which oppressions are linked,e.g., wages of women of colour vs. White women

33 Can Racialized and Ethnic Inequalities Be Reduced?
For reduction of inequalities: Functionalist: Restructuring of institutions and resocialization Conflict: Political action Feminists and anti-racist feminists: Critical analysis from the standpoints and experiences of people

34 Can Racialized and Ethnic Inequalities Be Reduced?
2001 Census: 18.4% of population of Canada is foreign-born 13.4% claimed visible minority status 4.4% have Indigenous status A vision for Canada must be inclusive and based on collective endeavour to eradicate racism

35 Social Consequences of Racism
Racism is exacerbated by gender for women of minority groups. Minority groups are disproportionately poor and, when employed, face discrimination in the workplace. Minorities are also over-represented in the criminal justice system as both perpetrators and victims. In Canada, the social problems resulting from exclusion, discrimination, and prejudice are most evident among Aboriginal peoples

36 Health Effects (see Tepperman et al. for more detail)
Lives of disadvantaged groups are characterized by premature death and extended periods of chronic illness. Institutional racism forces visible minorities into low-paying jobs, unemployment, and poverty. This creates economic hardship with adverse health consequences. Cultural variations such as dietary and exercise habits, and alcohol and cigarette use, also affect the health of those in ethnic groups. Due to racism and language barriers, minorities often experience difficulties in accessing health care

37 Solutions? need for increased education and the enforcement of government legislation (i.e., Employment Equity Act and Charter of Rights and Freedoms)

38 Canadian Case Study The “Indian Problem” Canada’s Hidden Shame:
Augie Fleras 2005

39 Case Study (cont.) “Excessive emphasis on the Indian problem to the exclusion of positive dimensions has the effect of “framing” aboriginal people as a problem people…aboriginal peoples are not a problem but peoples whose lives are complicated by forces beyond their control.” (Augie Fleras 2005, p. 302)

40 A Few Facts… “aboriginal people as a group remain at the bottom of the socioeconomic heap” For example (from 2001 Census) Only 42% age 15 and older are employed vs. 66% of non-Aboriginal population Average income $15994 vs. $26914 (2001 Census) Unemployment rate is 3 times national average Life expectancy – males 68.9, females 76.3 (5 years less than non-Aboriginals) Fertility 2.5 children (1.5 times national average) Median age 24.7 in aboriginal communities compared to 37.7 in non-aboriginal areas

41 Why? The Causes of Aboriginal Inequality..
Former First Nations Chief, Matthew Coon Come (1999) states: “…without adequate access to lands, resources, and without the jurisdiction required to benefit meaningfully and sustainably from them, we are given no choices. No number of apologies, policies, token programs, or symbolic healing funds is going to remedy this basic socio-economic fact…” (Coon Come, 1999 in Fleras, 2005)

42 The Main Problems… A 2002 U.N. report has called the maltreatment of Canada’s aboriginal people “a national tragedy and a shameful disgrace” Key problems: Lack of access to land Appropriation of resources Compromised culture and identity No claim to nationhood or autonomy No self-governance

43 Results: Powerlessness because of landlessness
Policy mistreatment because of “(o)ne hundred years of servitude, of protectionism and paternalism” (Buckley, 1992 in Fleras, 2005) The internalization of powerlessness and impotence has become “self-hatred” (i.e. suicide, domestic abuse, alcoholism, drug use) Erosion of cultural values and language

44 Residential School System
Lasted for more than 160 years Early schools run by religious organizations In 1874, the Canadian federal government became involved The last federally run residential school closed in Saskatchewan in 1996 and the last band run residential school closed in 1998 Purpose: to “integrate” Aboriginals into Canadian society Approximately 80,000 of those who attended still alive today (from Antone and Francis, 2008)

45 Thomas Moore before and after his entrance into the Regina Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan in 1874 (thanks to Elaine Antone and Natasha Francis for this example)

46 Consequences of Residential School System
Children removed from families Lost family connections, as well as language and culture Many suffered abuse – physical, psychological and sexual Often parents turned to drink and drugs to cope with loss of children Those who attended lost parenting ability and new generations are also suffering consequences

47 Video Where are the Children?
Produced by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 2004 (thanks to Elaine Antone for making this video available)

48 Reservation Life In past reserves were “holding pens” to make Canada “safe” for “settlers” Evolved into areas of dire poverty fraught with social consequences of the conditions Now, inadequate housing and basic services Less than 50% of homes (2003) have water and sewage connections On some reserves 95% unemployed or on welfare Women complain of “male-dominated” band councils, sexism, abuse i.e see CFB video “Without Fear” , for example

49 On-reserve vs. Off-reserve life
Reserves seen by some as “refuge from and buffer against a hostile outside world” But reserve dysfunctions of boredom, poor conditions, inequality force many into cities Lose status benefits, suffer discrimination, forced onto welfare or into prostitution for survival Some opt to spend winter in city, summer on reserve, but lead disjointed lifestyles

50 Aboriginal Women Cultures of past had matrilineal descent
Women more power Change when “whites” came – imposed European patriarchal structure and cultural change Then 1985 Indian Act stripped status from women who married non-aboriginals (since repealed) Studies show “aboriginal women rank among the most severely disadvantaged” in Canada Suffer from violence, abuse, inadequate housing and living conditions, alcohol and drug abuse

51 Aboriginal Youth Problems
Trapped between two cultures Problem of “anomie” (Durkheim) Lack positive role models and often suffer abuse Results: Substance and solvent abuse High suicide rates (as high as 470/ compared to 14/ in general population) Prostitution, petty crime High youth incarceration rates

52 Attempts to find solutions…
Canada only country in world to have aboriginal rights entrenched in constitution Has been some progress in increasing power and economic resources, access to higher education and more Native Studies programs But reality does not live up to ideals Debate: is assimilation or self-governing autonomy better?

53 A New Social Contract One proposal is self governance for Native peoples (i.e. see Cairns, 2000, 2003; Christie, 2002; Fleras, 2005) In 1997 “Statement of Reconciliation,” Canadian government promised to “create new partnership” with aboriginals Recognition of aboriginal identity and promise to work toward full aboriginal participation in Canadian society But progress has been slow

54 Four Models 1. Statehood with complete political independence, internally and externally 2. Nationhood, with retention of authority and jurisdiction over internal matters 3. Municipality, with control over delivery of services by way of parallel institutions 4. Institutional, with meaningful decision-making power in mainstream institutions

55 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples Proposal
Studied community based governance vs. nation based governance Proposed to create self governed aboriginal nations But problem of organizing 1000’s of communities into historical nations

56 The Future? Many Canadians alarmed by idea of self government
Some aboriginal groups themselves feel not yet ready However, Canada already has long history of two nations (French and English) under one loosely structured federal government. Why not three?

57 More Info…. Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Assembly of First Nations Royal Commission on Aboriginal Affairs

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