Reconstructions of Canadian Identity

Towards Diversity and Inclusion


Re-envisioning multiculturalism in Canada

In 1971, Canada became the first nation in the world to officially declare its bilingual and multicultural policies. Reconstructions of Canadian Identity examines what has changed over the past fifty years, highlighting the lived experiences of marginalized Canadians and offering insights into the critical work that lies ahead.

Editors Vander Tavares and Maria João Maciel Jorge bring together a wide range of disciplines and perspectives to investigate inclusion and exclusion within the processes, discourses, and practices that forge and frame Canadian identity. Chapters analyze ways current multicultural policies continue to benefit the dominant groups and (further) harm minoritized ones.

Exposing the pitfalls of established notions of Canadian identity, this volume moves traditionally othered identities—immigrant, racialized, hybridized, Indigenous, and women—to the forefront. In doing so, it reveals how these identities negotiate and claim legitimacy, arguing for a reconceptualization from the margins that truly fosters diversity and inclusion. Illustrating both the shortcomings of and possibilities for a more inclusive multiculturalism in Canada, Reconstructions of Canadian Identity invites readers to reflect on what it means to be Canadian in the twenty-first century.


“This collection is an invitation to rethink Canadianness as necessarily multicultural and vibrantly ethnoracially and religiously diverse: an elusive ideal but one we ought to continue to struggle towards.”

Handel Wright, Director, Centre for Culture, Identity, & Education, University of British Columbia

“The multiplicity of perspectives and voices represented in this collection draws attention to core contradictions associated with Canadian identity. Interconnected themes and analytical frames enrich the work, offering unique ways of reconsidering what Canada represents as a nation.”

Terry Wotherspoon, Sociology, University of Saskatchewan

About the Authors

Vander Tavares is a Postdoctoral Researcher in education at Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences and holds a PhD from York University. He is the author of International Students in Higher Education and editor of Social Justice, Decoloniality, and Southern Epistemologies within Language Education.

Maria João Maciel Jorge is Associate Professor at York University’s Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics. She holds a PhD from the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on the immigrant experience with insights that address hyphenated identity.

Other contributors: Jennifer Adese, Anwar Ahmed, Pallavi Banerjee, Julie Bérubé, Sepideh Borzoo, Elena Chou, Lisa M. Davidson, Marie-Laure Dioh, Augie Fleras, Shamette Hepburn, Michelle Lam, Catherine Longboat, Irene Marques, Joseph Mensah, Gertude Mianda, Jacqueline Ng, Snežana Obradović-Ratković, Veronica Escobar Olivo, Judith Patouma, Norman Ravvin, Anuppiriya Sriskandarajah, Reshma Rose Tom, Esther Wainaina

Table of Contents


Part 1: Multiculturalism from Historical and Indigenous Perspectives

1. Fifty Years of Multiculturalism: A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma – Augie Fleras

2. Refusing Minoritization: Indigenous People and the Politics of Multiculturalism – Jennifer Adese

3. Towards an Emotional Geography of Language and Canadian Identity in a Transnational World – Anwar Ahmed

Part 2: Redefining Identities in Educational Contexts

4. Canadian Identity from a Multicultural Perspective: Foregrounding Immigrant and Indigenous Voices in an ESL Course – Vander Tavares

5. Reconstruction of Canadian Identity in Second Language Education: Creating an Inclusive Classroom for Multilingual EAL Learners – Jacqueline Ng

6. Les enjeux du plurilinguisme en milieu scolaire francophone minoritaire: inclusion et construction identitaire polymorphe – Judith Patouma

Part 3: Beyond Marked Identities in Literature

7. The Case for Literary Extroversion and Human Consciousness Expansion in Canadian Literature: Writing, Identity and Belonging Beyond the Anglo-Saxon Ethic and Aesthetic – Irene Marques

8. Confronting Exclusion in English Canadian Literature: Portuguese-Canadian Hybrid and Hyphenated Voices and Identities – Maria João Maciel Jorge

Part 4: Elevating Transcultural Identities in National Spaces

9. A Transcultural Reconstruction of Identity and Inclusion: The Cambodian-Canadian Experience – Shamette Hepburn

10. The Conundrum of Reconstructing Canada’s Identity without Reconciliation – Catherine Longboat, Snežana Obradović-Ratković, Esther Wainaina, and Reshma Rose Tom

11. “Que Soy Yo?”: Identity and Belonging Among Central Americans in Canada – Veronica Escobar Olivo

Part 5: Belonging in Foreign Spaces

12. Reimagin(in)g Neighbourhood and Belonging: Youth Citizenship in Practice – Anuppiriya Sriskandarajah

13. Suppression for the Sake of Survival: Multisectoral Rural Voices on Belonging and Anti-Racism – Michelle Lam

14. Diversifying Unity and Unifying Diversity: Christian Hospitality in Multicultural Presbyterian Churches in Toronto – Lisa Davidson

15. Yiddish in Canada: A Study in the Rise and Fall of a Unique Form of Cultural and Linguistic Diversity – Norman Ravvin

Part 6: Rethinking “Canadian Identity” from Sociocultural Perspectives of Inclusion

16. …But Some… Are More Equal Than Others:’ On Black Canadians’ Sense of Belonging and Truncated Citizenship – Joseph Mensah

17. Canadian Multiculturalism in the Neoliberal Era: Discourses of Race, Asian-ness, and Assimilation in Maclean’s “Too Asian?” – Elena Chou

18. Intercultural Mediation: A Necessity for Identity Reconstruction Observed in Contemporary Quebec – Marie-Laure Dioh and Julie Bérubé

Part 7: Gendered, Racialized and Transnational Identities Reconstructing “Canadian Identity”

19. Self-Employment Among Immigrant and Migrant Women and Reconstruction of Canadian Identity from Intersecting Marginal Positions – Pallavi Banerjee and Sepideh Borzoo

20. Migration and the Paradox of Canadian Bilingualism: The Experience of Sub-Saharan African Francophone Immigrants in the Minoritized Francophone Community of the GTA – Gertrude Mianda