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Fernando Nunes, PhD Assistant Professor

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1 Cultural maintenance, community involvement and schooling amongst Portuguese-Canadian youth
Fernando Nunes, PhD Assistant Professor Department of Child & Youth Study Mount Saint Vincent University Halifax, Nova Scotia Presented at: 16 International Metropolis Conference Migration Futures: Perspectives on Global Changes Ponta Delgada, Açores, Portugal September 14, 2011 Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

2 Portuguese-Canadians
Approximately 411,000 Stable, established community Levels of poverty lower than average High levels of home ownership One of the groups that is least likely to report racism (sources: Matas & Valentine, (2000); Nunes, (1998, 2003); Ornstein, (2006); Statistics Canada, 2006 Census, catalogue no XCB )

3 Portuguese-Canadian challenges
Concentrated in unskilled construction, manufacturing and service occupations Significantly lower average incomes Disproportionately fewer individuals earning in upper income brackets Lowest education levels of any minority, including the First-Nations Little representation in major political, cultural and economic institutions Generally ignored by mainstream Canadian society Sources: Matas & Valentine, (2000); Nunes, (1998, 2003; 2004, 2005); Ornstein, (2006); Santos, (2004); Statistics Canada, 2006 Census, catalogue no XCB

4 Luso-Canadians and the Dropout Problem
Entering into 3rd Canadian-born generation Proportionately more youth than Canadian average Dropping out in disproportionate numbers Evidence from Ontario, Quebec & B.C. Highest dropout rate in Toronto (2005) (43%) Predominantly a male phenomenon Community concerned with social reproduction of youth in parents’ marginalized socioeconomic role Sources: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census, catalogue no XCB ;Toronto Board of Education Reports from 1970 to 2004; Brown, (2006); Giles (2002); Nunes, (1998, 2004, 2005); Ornstein, (2006); Santos, (2004).

5 Popular Explanations for Portuguese-Canadian Dropout
Parents don’t value education Parents don’t get involved in school Lack the proper cultural resources Home environment doesn’t support reading, writing Pejorative - Cultural deprivation Weak academic skills Pejorative - Lack of intellectual capacity Lack of self confidence Cultural duality Existential confusion leading to conflicting goals, dreams, etc. Lack of role models Lack of family and community tradition in post-secondary education Discriminatory school system practices & barriers Ex. Streaming Ex. High cost of post-secondary education If you note, the two major causes all point to the supposed negative influence of the Portuguese culture, on students’ ambitions and achievement. Source: Nunes, F. (2004). “Portuguese-Canadian Youth and Their Academic Underachievement: A Literature Review.” Portuguese-Studies Review 11, 2, p ; Nunes, F. (1996). Portuguese-Canadians from Sea to Sea. Toronto: Portuguese-Canadian National Congress.

6 Academic Approaches Supporting the Importance of Traditional Attitudes
Caste theory (Theory of Castelike minorities) (Ogbu, 1978, 1987) Some minority groups have developed traditional attitudes that portray education as irrelevant or unachievable (ex. Blacks, Natives, Mexicans) Have developed “folk-theories of success” that embody alternate paths to success (ex. Manual labour, sports, music, illicit drugs) Anti-racism Education Theory (Dei, 1996) Educational policies and practices are Euro-centric and White-centric Perpetuate and mirror inequality of wider society, against people of colour The Portuguese, as White Europeans, are not recognized as suffering the same racist barriers Dropout is then due to other factors (cultural tradition?) Critical Pedagogy (McLaren, 1986) Teachers see themselves as engaged in the task of “civilizing” Portuguese- Canadian students, by ridding them of their “mideaval” cultural norms Some of these theories support the notion that blame for the academic achievement issue can be placed on the effects of Traditional Culture. The first, Ogbu’s theory of Castelike Minorities states that some groups actually teach their children (by example and more explicitly) that education will be of little value in their future lives. The second, Dei’s Anti-Racism Education Theory, states that discriminatory barriers within the education system are based on Euro-centric and White-centric racist goals of the wider society. As Europeans, the Portuguese are then seen as part of the wider White majority that benefits from these racist practices. Consequently, by exclusion, there will be other explanations for Portuguese-Canadian dropout problem, such as the negative influence of traditional Portuguese society.

7 The Assumption of the Negative Influence of Traditional Portuguese Culture
Both popular perceptions, and some academic approaches, point to the influence of disadvantaging cultural expectations, practices, etc. in constructing the dropout problem Following from the above, it might be assumed that those youth who most see themselves as Portuguese, who have a greater involvement with the Luso-Canadian community and who most value Portuguese culture would display little interest in pursuing a higher education

8 Portuguese-Canadian Youth Barriers and Supports Study
Approach Critical Pedagogy & Participatory Research Paulo Freire’s (1970) Pedagogy of the Oppressed 21 Focus group meetings Based on Freire’s “circulos de cultura” (culture circles, or study circles) 6 in each of Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg & Vancouver 50 individual interviews 10 in each city Focus group participants develop questions to be asked in interviews Partnership with Portuguese-Canadian National Congress Community Advisory Committee Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council

9 Questions Why are Portuguese-Canadian youth dropping out in disproportionate numbers? What influences have contributed to their decision regarding entering college or university? What factors have prevented Portuguese-Canadian youth from integrating fully into Canadian society?

10 The Structure of Underachievement
Cultural, Class & Linguistic Barriers Lack of tradition of higher education Canadian-born entering school system as non-English speakers Parents unable to assist children Limited parental experience with education system Lack of role models Oppositional identity Lower income levels Disparaging view of community & ethnicity (in Toronto & Montreal) School System Barriers Streaming Biased IQ tests Not eligible for ESL Poor success in teaching reading & writing Non-reflective curriculum Low teachers’ expectations Teachers’ stereotyping Little value placed on international languages & cultures Dropout and/or failure to enter higher education Strong Family Support System Mediates worst consequences of dropping out Provides safety net for essentials (but not luxuries) Extensive network for securing manual labour employment System of reciprocal rights & responsibilities

11 Question Relating to this Presentation
How does the level of involvement and interest in the Portuguese community and culture, as well as an identification with being Portuguese, compare between those youth who are entering, or not entering, post-secondary education?

12 Relevant Questions Asked
Are you/ How are you / involved in the Portuguese community? Is there anything about the community (or your involvement in it) which has influenced your education? Do you have Portuguese friends, with whom you “hang out” on a regular basis Do you feel Portuguese? What does being Portuguese mean to you? (also Azorean, or Madeiran, etc) Are you proud to call yourself Portuguese, Azorean, or both? How important it is for you to maintain Portuguese traditions? How often does your school discuss Portuguese history and culture?

13 Portuguese Friends Most youth in the large cities had at least one Portuguese friend In smaller centres, Portuguese friendships depended on participation in the local club Having / Not having/ Portuguese friends was not necessarily seen as a prerequisite or an impediment to feeling Portuguese

14 Feeling Portuguese Most youth stated that they felt “Portuguese”
Most also stated equally “Canadian” Some equally “Azorean and Portuguese” Not necessarily only “Azorean” Some Azorean youth reticent to call themselves “Azorean” Possibly the result of disparaging stereotypes? (Feeling Azorean) means that we're from the islands, we're different. People say that we're the rejects of Portugal. That's not true. We're just a different breed of pork-chop. Toronto, Feb. 24, 2011 (male) Those stressing “Azorean” were often post-secondary-bound I love being Azorean. It means coming from, like, islands and tropics and sun and having all those specific cultural and historic sites in each island, or something […] I guess just because I'm not from Portugal, the continent, and I like to make sure people know, like, I'm Azorean […] I speak Portuguese, but I'm Azorean Toronto 6, August 6, 2010 (female)

15 Being Portuguese Usually defined by the following:
Family-related activities and get-togethers Eating distinct and tasty food Watching soccer Speaking Portuguese Pride in a rich historical tradition Well, I love everything about it, with when it comes to food, I’m constantly going out to the store and grabbing a bit of prosciutto, bringing it home. My uncle goes up to his farm, brings us chicken or something and we’ll sit there and peel its wings off or something. I don’t know, it’s kind of weird, yet kind of enjoyable, you know? And every chance we get we hop on a plane and we’re off to Portugal. It just – it’s so different from here, you know? It’s like a paradise away from here Toronto, May 18, 2011 (male)

16 Pride in Being Portuguese
Almost all, in interviews, said they were proud to call themselves “Portuguese” Portuguese means being Portuguese. I have Brazilian friends who tell me and I take it from them, you guys are strong people, strong people, strong blood, strong hands, hard headed and I'm proud to be Portuguese Toronto Feb. 23, 2011 (male) Some in focus groups expressed a negative association with being Portuguese …the guidance councilors try to force us to not take…university prep courses… As soon as they hear that we are Portuguese they hate us. I think that they think we are stupid. One of them told me, ‘Portuguese don’t go to university. I hate them, but we do make like we are ignorant. I feel ashamed like, I feel bad to be Portuguese.” Toronto Post-Secondary-bound focus group (female)

17 More Expressions of Portuguese Pride in Smaller Cities
I am proud to be Portuguese… …I am the only Portuguese person in my school… …and it makes me feel like I am different. I am different, but in a good way. And it really helps me along. Halifax, post-secondary-bound 2 You feel good about yourself… …after a [folklore] performance… …like you presented something, like a part of your culture… Vancouver, post-secondary-bound 3 I’m in grade 11, and my dad is Portuguese, but my mom isn’t… …me and my sister, we were always more proud of our Portuguese side, I guess because we did more with that (folk dancing, Sunday dinners, etc.) Winnipeg, post-secondary-bound 1

18 What creates difference?
Small size of community forces more uniqueness and greater unity: The fact that there is not as many of us around… …we stick out more… …people are not used to having us around. I know that makes me want to be Portuguese even more. To show people what there really is. Halifax, post-secondary-bound 1 Youth and family involvement in local associations breeds sense of family, uniqueness Peer pressure to stay in school, amongst youth in associations Schools, teachers and community in small centres do not stigmatize Portuguese, as a group They have no prevailing stereotypes

19 Importance of Maintaining Portuguese Traditions
Most said it was important, mainly for the preservation of family life Less importance given by some who were not going to post-secondary education Less important for some of Azorean background I don't find it that important (to maintain traditions). My grandparents have the Mary statue with all the roses and always eating fish and chicken and soup… …but, we’re in a new age. Toronto, Feb. 24, 2011 (male)

20 Different Treatment for Being Portuguese
All interviewees rep0rted receiving the same opportunities as other youth or, at least, other minorities None report having been treated differently One Toronto youth said “I didn’t realize we were a minority.” Some said being poor had disadvantaged them However, in other parts of their interviews, some of these same youth cited examples of discriminatory practices There was a teacher, one time, I got suspended for this. He was telling me, he's like, if I got in trouble, he's like 'oh whatever, it's not like you're going to be anything. You're just gonna be a construction worker like your father anyways.” Toronto, Feb. 24, 2011 (male)

21 Stereotypes Many, in the large cities, also acknowledged, but minimized the importance of negative stereotypes against the Portuguese They used to call me bricklayer, at X school: 'hey it’s the bricklayer, the bricklairo, pork-chop, paposeco,’...nicknames, oh God. When you're a kid, it's always a reason to fight. But, like, once you get older, it's just nicknames you give each other. Toronto, Feb. 23, 2011 (male)

22 What might this mean? Portuguese youth did not learn how to recognized racism and racist practices from parents Portuguese do not have a history of suffering under discriminatory laws and institutional practices Portuguese are traditionally colonizers, not colonized people Thus, can Luso-Canadian youth recognize the expressions of racism?

23 Community Involvement Anecdotally Associated with Positive Attitudes Towards Education
…kids that aren’t going to post-secondary education aren’t really immersed in their Portuguese culture. Like a lot of the kids I know that go to church, go to all these Portuguese functions, they are going to post-secondary education; they aren’t at risk of dropping out. But the kids that aren’t involved they don’t want to be involved, they are the ones that are finding trouble and not wanting to pursue post-secondary education. Vancouver 2 Focus Group Those youth who we interviewed, who were involved with the community associations, appeared to be committed to getting a good education. Once again, this is an association that still needs to be tested statistically. I’m also not suggesting that there is a causal relationship between the two. It is possible that the same factors that lead some youth to participate in community life and events also lead them to participate more actively in school (ex. Obedience to parents, stability and support in family life, etc.). However, this phenomenon should be further explored. This also contradicts the attitude that was documented amongst some educators (and many in the community) that the reasons for underachievement are to be found in the influence of the Portuguese culture. This is the “cultural deficit” explanation for minority failure, that was documented amongst those teachers teaching Portuguese children, in the mid 1980’s, in the book “Schooling as a Ritual Performance” by Peter MacLaren.

24 Implications Policies and practices on cultural maintenance
Discussion of Portuguese history and culture in high school curriculum More support for Portuguese Associations for cultural maintenance Promotion of involvement of youth in associations Anti-racism Education Theory (Dei, 1996) Portuguese suffering similar institutional racism as visible minorities Not recognized in anti-racism education theory Settlement and community programs Still being used by community up to second and third generation Do not reflect the needs of Portuguese-Canadian youth Better support families Should also include Portuguese cultural events geared towards youth Youth programs Need for Luso-specific youth programs

25 Thank You The many youth who contributed their experiences to this study Portuguese-Canadian National Congress Abrigo Centre (Toronto) Dufferin Mall Youth Services Portuguese Associations in Halifax, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Montreal Carrefour Lusophone Research Assistants: Sabrina Domingues, Diana Cohen-Reis, Lisa Santos, Andrea D’Sylva, Gorette Imm, Amanda Nunes, Michele Greencorn, Melissa Caines

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