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Question for forum members tracing their family roots to pre-Confedera


Machjo

Group identities of Canadians with pre-Confederation North American family rootsroots  

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I'd be curious to know, especially since when two people with totally different core identities enter a debate, they can end up speaking past one another with no fruitful results since their world views are not even compatible.

I've encountered this happening a lot. I think what makes people most unable to communicate with each other is a fundamental difference in their perception of reality. That can arise if one or both parties hold a firm belief in some ideology and are unable to think about the world in a different way. It seems mostly to do with politics and philosophy, and sometimes (though not that often) with religion. If the participants of the debate are not competent in each others languages that of course can also affect discourse but is usually not the main source of ineffective discussion here. I guess my contention is that the main aspect of "identity" that prevents effective debate between some individuals is an unbridgeable difference in political ideology rather than anything else.

As for who I identify with... I'll go ahead and answer. I don't particularly give a damn about the "local community", "co-nationals", "coreligionists", or other speakers of any of my four languages. To some extent I do identify with mankind as a whole and also to some extent with people of common ancestry, but these are both rather limited identifications. I believe that a person's strongest ties are with their family and friends, and that that is natural and is as it should be. It is human nature to value most those individuals who one knows and loves, and to value less those that one does not even know and will likely never meet, and of course to value least one's enemies and those who would do one harm.

Oh, and I don't fit your category of a pre-Confederation Canadian but thought I'd answer anyway.

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I've encountered this happening a lot. I think what makes people most unable to communicate with each other is a fundamental difference in their perception of reality. That can arise if one or both parties hold a firm belief in some ideology and are unable to think about the world in a different way. It seems mostly to do with politics and philosophy, and sometimes (though not that often) with religion. If the participants of the debate are not competent in each others languages that of course can also affect discourse but is usually not the main source of ineffective discussion here. I guess my contention is that the main aspect of "identity" that prevents effective debate between some individuals is an unbridgeable difference in political ideology rather than anything else.

As for who I identify with... I'll go ahead and answer. I don't particularly give a damn about the "local community", "co-nationals", "coreligionists", or other speakers of any of my four languages. To some extent I do identify with mankind as a whole and also to some extent with people of common ancestry, but these are both rather limited identifications. I believe that a person's strongest ties are with their family and friends, and that that is natural and is as it should be. It is human nature to value most those individuals who one knows and loves, and to value less those that one does not even know and will likely never meet, and of course to value least one's enemies and those who would do one harm.

Oh, and I don't fit your category of a pre-Confederation Canadian but thought I'd answer anyway.

Thanks for your answer. You are right about family ties, but I was thinking more in terms of political identity, though not necessarily at an ideological level, but possibly on an emotional level too.

I don't mind your having voted, but my main reason for asking specifically those of ancestry reaching back into North American history was to see how many among that group attach themselves to any kind of 'national' identity more than they do any other identity, since I figured this might reveal certain attitudes towards we find in the immigration debates concerning the idea that canada is 'our' land, with a clearer definition of 'our'.

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Thanks for your answer. You are right about family ties, but I was thinking more in terms of political identity, though not necessarily at an ideological level, but possibly on an emotional level too.

That's just my point. People get most emotional when one challenges their political ideology, from what I've seen. From firm believers in collectivism/socialism who simply cannot fathom the individualist view of the world, to hardcore religious right wingers who see things through the lens of unsubstantiated belief and dubious morality, etc. For many people, political identity may have more to do with which party they have grown to identify with than anything else like nationality or religion. You can see the kind of heated arguments we have between supporters of conservatives, liberals, and the NDP, and how despite many of them certainly sharing the same race, religion, and nationality, they talk right past each other as you described.

I don't mind your having voted, but my main reason for asking specifically those of ancestry reaching back into North American history was to see how many among that group attach themselves to any kind of 'national' identity more than they do any other identity, since I figured this might reveal certain attitudes towards we find in the immigration debates concerning the idea that canada is 'our' land, with a clearer definition of 'our'.

I think you'll find some of the strongest opposition to immigration comes not from pre-confederates but from second (and in some cases first) generation immigrants who came here in earlier waves of immigration and remember WHY they did so. They came to Canada to get away from the hellholes created by nations that followed their old beliefs, cultures, or ideologies, to seek a life better than what could be achieved under the yoke of many of the old world nations. And now some of them see ever increasing influences from those cultures in Canada, they fear a regression and a return to that from which they fled. They thought they had escaped to a better world, a place of freedom and opportunity, only to find that it may soon turn into something no different from the lands they left behind.

Some of the harshest criticisms of immigration have come from relatively recent immigrants.

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By the way, I fall into that group myself, tracing my ties back to early New France over 400 years ago on my mothers side, and also have some aboriginal blood on my fathers. I don't think this makes me any more Canadian than anyone else, but I'm wondering if some among that group may believe that their ancestry going back to pre-Confederation Canada somehow makes them more entitled to the land than others.

Personally, personal family and friends aside, I don't really have a clear identity. I identify more with my language communities than I do with my nationality, strangely enough. I think there are reasons for that in my life experiences. I'm French Canadian but was raised in English Canada, and later moved to Quebec, and later still abroad, and now back to English Canada.

In English Canada, I'd found the local Francophone communities always organizing around language as the glue that held them together, and of course many tried to infuse it with a strong Catholic identity. Since I'd turned away from the Catholic Faith at an early age, I'd ended up rejecting that religious identity but still identifying with the language community none-the-less. Quite often though, the local Francophones of North American ancestry were outnumbered by those of foreign, especially African and European, ancestry, resulting in the local Francophone identity taking on a more cosmopolitan ambiance revolving around language.

In Quebec too, I was surprised to see just how linguistically charged the public discourse was with regards to relations between Quebecers, and again a French-speaking Algerian I'd met travelling through la Malbaie seemed more easily accepted within the community than the English-speaking Canadian I knew who was living in Quebec city, who knew little French and told me how she felt so isolated. And abroad too, most foreigners and ex-pats tended to ghettoize not so much along national lines, but linguistic lines. It seemed that, in spite of our national rhetoric, in practice we tend to associate more easily with groups we can communicate with than with those who simply share a common citizenship.

I guess these observations have created a stronger appreciation of the power of language to unite and divide more effectively than any other identity, even if we are not always aware of that identity and simply take our ability to communicate for granted.

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I think you'll find some of the strongest opposition to immigration comes not from pre-confederates but from second (and in some cases first) generation immigrants who came here in earlier waves of immigration and remember WHY they did so. They came to Canada to get away from the hellholes created by nations that followed their old beliefs, cultures, or ideologies, to seek a life better than what could be achieved under the yoke of many of the old world nations. And now some of them see ever increasing influences from those cultures in Canada, they fear a regression and a return to that from which they fled. They thought they had escaped to a better world, a place of freedom and opportunity, only to find that it may soon turn into something no different from the lands they left behind.

Some of the harshest criticisms of immigration have come from relatively recent immigrants.

I'd love to read studies on this.

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I'd love to read studies on this.

I haven't seen studies, just articles. I'm not making a statistical claim, but rather a claim about where some of the harshest reasonable criticism (i.e editorials and articles) comes from. There was a thread here just recently along these lines, and I've seen many such articles on the web.

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