English 1022E Lecture Notes - Pierre Trudeau, Canadian Literature, Political Philosophy
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English Lecture “What We All Long For” March 29, 2011
“I’ll tell you what I’ve seen here at Yongs and Bloors At this crossroad…” - Thirsty (2002)
Multiculturalism Act (1988)
“A coherent philosophical basis for the management of ethnic diversity”
-Dionne Brown is a lesbian and black woman and Marxist. She engages because she speaks
from her unique perspective, which is so different compared to us.
-The context for the novel is multiculturalism.
-Canada was the first to acknowledge multiculturalism as a characteristic of a society/country.
It’s a landmark quality of Canadian society.
-Associated with Pierre Trudeau, but a term that was defined in Australia. Their definition is “a
coherent philosophical basis for the management of ethnic diversity”
-By and large it’s been very successful.
-Humane policy for accommodating immigrants. Otherwise without multiculturalism
there would be coercion to abandon their culture and speak English/French.
-Indubitably lead to the enrichment of Canadian literature in the direction of diversity and
complexity. Canada is much more diverse than it was up to the 1970’s.
-Multiculturalism seems as a political philosophy, to fail to address a number of issues.
-What are the problems with multiculturalism and how are they addressed in this novel?
-Does not address the changes that occur in generations. Multicultural policy does not make
clear distinctions between 1st, 2nd, 3rd generations of people. Even in first gen. there are people
who decide to sustain their culture, and there are people who don’t wish to sustain it. Then the
next gen. is by and large left with the remnants of that culture with little or no desire to preserve
it. For them, multiculturalism is more of a burden than a benefit. It’s everywhere in this novel.
One instance on p.20
-There parents have made journeys across oceans, but for these kids the journey is
across the city, where they feel at home. Moreso than in Vietnam or wherever. A little
less so for Jackie, who’s from Halifax. Though the black community of Halifax is
different from the one of Toronto.
-Multiculturalism doesn’t have a lot to say in the direction of mixed marriages and interracial
babies that spring from this. To Yen is Vietnamese, ___ is Black, but Carla, who looks Italian, is
mixed race. Her father is black and mother is white. Greater complexity here.
-Until recently multiculturalism has done nothing to address the limited recognition of non-
Canadian professional qualifications. ToYens father was an engineer, mother was a doctor, but
the run a Vietnamese restaurant. There identity becomes Vietnamese food.
-Concept of multiculturalism ignores desire of many immigrants to escape, conceal, and paper
over their past culture. Tendency to forget that some immigrants bring aspects from cultures
that are very disruptive.
-p.310 Key talking about Canada “dangerous city, you could be anybody here… it would
be easy to disappear here.” Who am I? Identity here is fluid, in a flux. People are
changing their natures and identity
-Multiculturalism has done little to address the settlement patterns. Very few of them settle in
rural areas, they gravitate to Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal, Edmonton, where they tend to
gather together in enclaves “ghettos” based on race and culture, and to a degree, on class. page
-description of Richmond Hill on page 54, might make us wary
-To Yens family is rich, they have a giant house. Repetition of “giant house” means this
area is full of predictability. “self” repeated - we’re in the realm of questions and shifts
of identity. They hate that self. Almost a schizoid quality – this self vs. that self. Internal
division. They hate the self that can’t fit in because of colour or language or both. After