Readings for Test 2
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
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
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 Family
Sociology 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 immediate family.
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
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.