Leacock. Eleanor B. 2009. Women in an Egalitarian Society: The Montagnais-Naskapi Of Canada. Pp. 43- 54 in Family
Patterns Gender Relations 3rd Ed. Toronto: Oxford University Press.
The purpose of this short study was to exhibit how the family structure of the Montagnais constantly changes to adapt to their
surroundings. The author starts by describing the way of life these native people from the eastern Labrador Peninsula, an account
from Paul Le Jeune, a missionary sent from France to civilize the Montagnais in 1633. After citing some changes and giving a
few examples, she recounts her experience with the tribe in the 1950s and concludes that the roles in the family are not divided
by gender by labour abilities as well as availability. She compares their way of life now and although still extremely different
from the standard modern lifestyle, is constantly restructuring to maintain functionality.
This account of the way the Montagnais lived is based on the journal Paul Le Jeune, a Jesuit missionary, kept while living with
them the year of 1633-4. The people lived by hunting moose, caribou, beaver, bear, hare, and other small game as well as fishing,
and gathered berries in the summer. They spoke their own language and taught their children how to read and write in a phonetic
script developed long ago. Le Jeune noted that they lived in groups of 3-4 families in one tent, travelling and working together to
contribute to the community. In the winter, 3 tents would join shifting camp 23 times between November and April. Le Jeune
saw 4 steps to civilize the Montagnais; permanent settlement and declaring a formally recognized authority, introduce
punishment into social relations, education children (the Montagnais first did not like the idea of chastising children so Le Jeune
then suggested to remove the children from the community for schooling), and establishing the European family structure with
the a male authority, female fidelity and eliminating the right to divorce.
Montagnais-Naskapi Economy and decision Making
With the European settlers now in the province, the Montagnais would spend summer on the shore of the St. Lawrence River,
their attempt at a permanent settlement. They did travel during the far in order to hunt in the winter. The groups would still keep
in touch so if one group was short on food, they could turn to others for help. After a man and a wife were to get married, the
man would move into the wifes lodge which usually included the wifes sister or son in law or father in law. Women transported
the game, made and repaired household utensils, skin game and prepare hides, catch fish, often hunt too. A note in the journal
said the choice of plans of journeys, lies in the hands of the housewife.
The Jesuit Program for Changing Montagnais Marriage
Le Jeune wanted to eliminate the Montagnais unquestioned acceptance of divorce at the divorce of either partner, of polygyny
and of sexual freedom after marriage. Women were very unhappy when he suggested the elimination of polygamy because there
were more women in the tribe than men, and therefore if men were to only have one wife, not all the women would marry. The
women were extremely rebellious when Christianity was imposed on them to attempt to force them to be faithful. To fix that, Le
Jeune ordered the women who rebelled to be placed in a prison as a punishment and the threat alone cause fear and made the
women a bit more compliant.
Long-Range Impact of the Jesuit Program
The general response was to reject the values, yet there were some that tried extremely hard to adapt to the European lifestyle.
This was due to the fact that some Montagnais wanted to use the resources offered by the new settlers so that some were prepared
to accept the beliefs and attempt to adopt the new standards of conduct. One aspect that was never accepted was on punishment, a
few years after Le Jeune attempt to civilize the Montagnais, a French boy hit a Montagnais with his drumstick drawing blood.
The French ordered the boy to be whipped in the Montagnais presence, when it was about to happen, they began to pray for the
boys pardon and even one onlooker threw himself onto the boy and cried to be struck instead of the young boy. Once the
Montagnais were no longer under close supervision, they reverted back to most of their old ways while adapting a few aspects,
such as the church, to their way of life. The women regained their status, and the tasks were continued to be shared between the
two genders. Mitchell, Barbara A. 2009. Aboriginal Families, Immigration, and the Changing Ethnic Mosaic of Canadian Families.
Pp. 74-92 in Family Matters: An Introduction to FamilySociology in Canada. Toronto: Canadian Scholars Press. (On
Reserve in Library)
This chapter explores the continually changing ethnic composition of the Canadian population. When taking the course in mind,
a majority of this chapter is slightly irrelevant because it provides us with statistics of the type of cultures of people living in
Canada as well as the challenges the Aboriginal people face in their attempts to maintain their identity and survive in the
Westernized culture. In this summary, I do try to limit the amount of numbers but it should be noted that the chapter does
consider, but does not go into depth, the conflict in the family that arises between the older generation with traditional values
and believes versus the younger generation assimilating into Canadian traditions and practices.
The chapter will investigate Aboriginal groups and visible minorities and their ethnicity as well as how their culture
changes. The author stresses the struggle these groups of people have to maintain their family in the face of numerous
obstacles and challenges. Such strain includes availability and access to resources, patterns of family and generational
support over the life course and their health and well being due to their predisposition.
Aboriginal Families Under French and British Colonization
This first section focuses on the life of Aboriginal families and how they have had to adapt the French and British
settlers. The families were primarily hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists, and lived in settled villages engaging in some
trade. By the 1500s, male colonists had taken First Nations women as wives creating nuclear families founded upon the
same legal patriarchy as those in England. The fathers and husbands owned property and therefore should be the legal
head of the family, enforced by the gender-specific curriculum developed by the church. Education also strongly affected
the family because aboriginal children were placed in church-run residential schools where they were taken away from
their families and reserves and stripped of their culture. These children encountered unhealthy parental roles, which
decreased their own capacity to care for their own children later in life.
Immigration characteristics are also looked at in this section with an emphasis on how even today, from a census taken in
2001, the majority of the population is white leading with 39.4% of people claiming Canadian as their ethnicity.
Historically, non-whites were discouraged from entering Canada (for example, the head tax imposed on Chinese
immigrants and their family members) but studies show that this is still slightly reflected today in the immigration policy,
specifically in respect to refugee status. When applying for such, parents and grandparents are not considered
Selected Ethno-cultural Family Trends
This section looks at the separation between traditional values and Canadian/Western culture. This part in the reading is
flooded with statistics and numbers as well as charts in an attempt to emphasize the large and increasing variety of
cultures coexisting in Canada. The author notes that Aboriginal cultures as well as the traditional values of most
individuals place an emphasis on sharing, extended family and a profound respect for elders. On the other hand, the
Canadian or Western culture is more often associated with individualistic goals and pursuits. In Aboriginal families,
there is a growing concern on grandparent-grandchild relations. The positive aspect being that care from grandparents
can provide continuity among the generations allowing children to learn traditional ways. The negative, the reason for
this concern is that many custodial elders face a substantial financial, emotional, and physical strain which can in turn
affect their grandchild.
The conflict across generations in visible minority families occurs generally when the older generation is foreign-born and
holds traditional norms and values. Many common disagreements occur due to clashing norms and values, school work,
peer groups, and dating issues. In addition, many elderly immigrants do not qualify for pensions and experience poverty.
Because of this, they must rely on other family members for food and shelter which can cause strain in the family unit. Tyyska, Vappu. 2011. Immigrant and Racialized Families. Pp. 86-121 in Canadian Families: Diversity, Conflict, and
Change 4th ed. Toronto: Nelson Education Ltd.
The author in this chapter explores the stratification of the types of families that reside in Canada. Like the previous chapter, this
one is also filled with statistics and information regarding the people that dont necessarily give insight to the family structure and
roles. The main aspect of this article is how racialization, the process by which racial meanings are attached to particular issues,
usually in a negative way, affect the people of that race and how it then thereby affects their relationships, one of which being
familial. We see how patterns of othering immigrants and minorities cause psychological strain on the individual which would
then cause conflict within that individuals family.