Canadian Identities

Bari Barsi Kaatan Gaye Si, Katke le Ande….

("I traveled for twelve years far from home, And after this journey I brought home….")

~ The opening lines from a form of popular Punjabi folk songs

Retaining a cultural connection to more than one place is the hallmark of Canadian multiculturalism. The way Canada has viewed non-European immigration has changed in drastic ways during the course of the last century and it has reflected changes within Canada as well as developments around the world. The early struggles of the pioneer community found resolution through landmark changes in governmental policy which included re-instituting the franchise for South Asian immigrants in 1947 and changing immigration laws in the late 1960s.  These major shifts were the results of tireless work by early activists who forged ties to new homelands and brought something new to their new homes. 

But what does it mean to be Canadian? Does this notion change over time? Are there "core values" that we can agree on?  Or is it possible that histories that cannot be agreed upon create sites of dialogue and discussion from which new, more meaningful bonds can be forged? 

You will find here a variety of interpretations on what it means to be Canadian over the past 100 years. Some people speak of race and climate, others speak of "civilization" or shared values. Tracing the contours of this dialogue and seeing how it has changed (or remained the same) over time provides a backdrop for you to explore the multiple ways of seeing Canada and being Canadian.