Ethnic Elites and Canadian Identity

Japanese, Ukrainians, and Scots, 1919–1971

Aya Fujiwara (Author)

Ethnic elites, the influential business owners, teachers, and newspaper editors within distinct ethnic communities, play an important role as self-appointed mediators between their communities and “mainstream” societies. In Ethnic Elites and Canadian Identity, Aya Fujiwara examines the roles of Japanese, Ukrainian and Scottish elites during the transition of Canadian identity from Anglo-conformity to ethnic pluralism. By comparing the strategies and discourses used by each community, including rhetoric, myths, collective memories, and symbols, she reveals how prewar community leaders were driving forces in the development of multiculturalism policy. In doing so, she challenges the widely held notion that multiculturalism was a product of the 1960s formulated and promoted by “mainstream” Canadians and places the emergence of Canadian multiculturalism within a transnational context.


“This thoughtful, well-researched book offers an excellent entry into the subject of ethnicity and the politics of cultural identity in Canada. For any historian trying to grapple with these issues, Fujiwara provides a very stimulating read.”

– Lisa Chilton, University of Prince Edward Island

“This volume will interest those readers who wish to understand the negotiations that persisted between ethnic and mainstream elites and led to an identity shift in English Canada in the 1960s.”

– John Zucchi, McGill University, Great Plains Research

About the Author

Aya Fujiwara is a former adviser in Political Affairs at the Embassy of Japan in Ottawa. She has a PhD in Canadian History and teaches at the University of Alberta.

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