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A Generational Examination of Identity Formation among Youth Lori Wilkinson, Ph.D. Department of Sociology University of Manitoba Presented at Metropolis.

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Presentation on theme: "A Generational Examination of Identity Formation among Youth Lori Wilkinson, Ph.D. Department of Sociology University of Manitoba Presented at Metropolis."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Generational Examination of Identity Formation among Youth Lori Wilkinson, Ph.D. Department of Sociology University of Manitoba Presented at Metropolis BC Policy Symposium 01 March 2010, Victoria British Columbia

2 Research Questions Is ethnic identity, particularly the identification of Canadian, influenced by generation status? Is a sense of belonging in Canada attached to ethnicity or generation status or both? Are there other differences? 1G: born outside Canada 2G: parents born outside the country 3+G: parents born in Canada

3 Identity Formation, Racialization and Generation Status 1 st G: focuses on the process of adaptation and settlement 2 nd G: distinct ethnocultural history plus grounded experience in Canada. Unique challenges include simultaneously admitting and resisting elements of their parents and the mainstream culture. 3 rd plus G: ethnic identity may be lost, reduced or taken for granted, especially if they are members of the dominant ethnic group. Bicultural identities and effects of discrimination Sundar, 2008; Mahtani, 2004; Phinney & Rosenthal1992; Lu 2001

4 Research Methodology Qualitative 3-year study of youth of diversity A variety of graphic and narrative data: Photoscape activity; urban mapping exercise; cultural collage technique; various narratives from interviews, focus groups and written responses Calgary: two public high schools; students participate on pull-out basis during Social Studies classes (N=47). Winnipeg: one inner-city high school; students participated during Geography class (N=88). Toronto: two separate (Catholic) schools; students participated during Social Studies class (N=39). N=174 youth aged years

5 Winnipeg Toronto Calgary Note: 19% of students do not report any ethnic affiliation Note: 25% of students report two or more ethnic affiliations. Ethnic Characteristics of Students by city

6 Generation Status Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto P<0.01

7 Ethnic Affiliation by Generation Status

8 Do First Generation Feel Canadian? Honestly, being Canadian really doesnt mean anything to me. I never had they choice to move here. I came from a country in poverty and my family wished they could move back or wished they hadnt moved for a variety of reasons. I dont hate or am mad about being Canadian. But I would regret my life if I lived here for the rest of it, especially in Winnipeg. (Julio Black, Male, 1 st generation, British Bajan)

9 Heavy Consumer Identity Julio Black, Male, 1st generation, British Bajan

10 Ethnicity is central Elaine, Female, 1 st generation, Filipina

11 First Generation & Canadian: An Exception Freedom, security, peace and most of all acceptance. There are so many different cultures living together and for the most part we are accepting. Being Canadian is so much because we live together and we learn from one another. (Lauressa, Haitian, Jamaican, Dakota Sioux, Swampy Cree) Note: she was born in Jamaica, lived in the US prior to arrival in Canada.

12 First Generation Thoughts on Finding Friends Even though someone who immigrates to Canada over 5 to 10 years, they stick to their prior culture. It is collectivism in Korea. There is still individualism there but mostly it is collectivism. In Canada, it is individualism. When immigrants come here, they have no networking whatsoever (Male, Korean, 1 st generation)

13 Second Generation & Canadian Identity Being a Canadian means that everyone is friendly and happy but also hardworking and passive. This is because we are a country that welcomes everyone. (Malcolm X, Male, 2 nd generation Filipino) I never realized what it meant to be a Canadian; then I thought it was a way to change and be different. As a Canadian it gives people a chance to be free and we have so many different freedoms (that) I dont think many people think about. (Jil, Female, 2 nd generation Filipina)

14 Identities overlapping and in multitude Grade 10 student Roman Catholic Filipina I am religious and I love my friends and family I would like to be a successful person because I want to go places (GCPMest, 2 nd generation female, Filipina)

15 Second Generation & Canadian Identity, continued A multi-coloured floral lei is the best way to express myself as a cultural individual living with so many different ethnicities in Canada (Cultural Collage in shape of shoebox, Rubber Duckie, Filipina-Spanish Canadian)

16 Canadian identity significant Sunshiners, female, 2 nd generation, Filipina

17 Second Generation and Views on Racism and Inclusion Like people will not hire me because they cannot even pronounce my name. That was one of the major conflicts I had. And a lot of people told me even when I go to church I should use my English name (Male, Japanese, 2 nd generation) Being an outsider always never fitting in necessarily. I think this is inevitable when you are being a visible minority in general you dont always fit in (Female, Indian, 2 nd generation)

18 Subtle Racism and Stereotypes of the Second Generation I find some people assume because I look ethnic that Im not fluent in English and that I do not have the same thinking or mind- frame like a Canadian person even though I am Canadian… I find in interviews people will ask me how long have you been in Canada? or how did you learn to speak English so well? That is the first step back for me because they do not assume I am up to the part (Female, Filipina, 2 nd generation)

19 Third+ Generation and Canadian Identity It means being strong, proud and free. Its a Canadian thing, we are born with pride. (Spoff, German, French, Czech, English, Dutch, Canadian) Being Canadian means living in a country that doesnt have as much violence as other countries and which has a diverse community. Canada is not as bad as the United States when it comes to war. (RSM Filipina) That I have freedom, rights and independence in what I do! I know that I am protected. Our government is better than George Bush in the United States. (Selene, no ethnicity)

20 I am what I am Kashmoney, Female, 3 rd + Scottish and Belgian

21 Absence of ethnic identity RSM, Female, 3 rd plus generation, Filipina

22 Conclusion First generation: strong attachment to heritage ethnicity; little desire to attach to Canadian identity. Less expressive about their overall identity than other generations Second generation: greater ability to accept multiple ethnic identities, including Canadian, sensitivity to racism. Third+ generation: ethnicity plays much smaller role, though even the Canadian identity does not figure prominently.

23 Metropolis Policy Priorities Is ethnic identity, particularly the identification of Canadian, influenced by generation status? Yes. First generation youth are less likely to indicate Canadian as an identity Almost all students have weak ties to Canadian identity Is a sense of belonging in Canada attached to ethnicity or generation status or both? Are there other differences? Sense of belonging to Canada strengthens in the second- generation. By third generation, Canadas role is significantly reduced.

24 Acknowledgements The data for this paper/presentation were selected from the SSHRC-funded three-year research project, , titled: Negotiating Difference and Democracy: Identity as Social Capital among Canadian Youth, with Dr. Yvonne M. Hébert (U Calgary) as Principal Researcher and Drs. Lori Wilkinson (U Manitoba) and Mehrunnisa Ali (Ryerson U) as Co-Researchers, and are used here with permission of the Principal Researcher. In addition to the researchers, several assistants were employed in the project, William J. Hartley, Melanie Reader, Leanne. J. Hildebrand, Sarah Baker, Matthew A. Tonks, Wenbei Zhu, Minha Reokenally Ha and Ernie Alama (U Calgary); Temitope B. Oriola, Rana McDonald and Fasil Demsash (U Manitoba), and Charity-Ann Hannan and Muna Jama (Ryerson U).


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