“Real” Canadians

If you’ve been following along, it hasn’t exactly been a good thing lately to be a non-white Canadian in trouble overseas. If you haven’t been following things, Dr. Dawg has the goods here. Why is this happening? Since everything is political to the Harper Cons, I wonder if this is all part of a subtle appeal to the self-proclaimed “real” Canadians.

Who are the people who call themselves “real” Canadians? I don’t have the sociology chops to really define this group, but since it’s about self-identification I can share where I have heard this sort of self-identification. I recall a friend about ten years ago saying her boyfriend wasn’t “Canadian” like she said she was, or I was. What is he then? I was told he was Italian and so asked “you mean he was born in Italy?” No. Apparently he was born here. So does he now hold an Italian passport and Italian citizenship? No. So he’s Canadian, is he not? No, I was told he wasn’t really Canadian.

I started to notice that there is a pattern in this country where a subset of white Canadians tend to identify themselves as “Canadian” as a sort of ethnic group apart from citizenship. Typically these people are a mixture of Northern European ancestries and they usually only make this identification as “real” Canadians (or more often just “Canadians”) to others of this ilk. My Anglo-Germanic-Irish-Scottish ancestry is almost prototypical of this group and therefore gets me admission to these kinds of conversations.

Now there are some cases where sufficiently assimilated whites from other parts of Europe (Italy, Greece, Ukraine, etc.) might be granted admission to this club, but it’s important to see what “Real Canadianism” is. It’s an attempt at the creation of a Canadian volk. Actually, since I reject the notion that these self-identified “Real Canadians” are the only “real Canadians” perhaps I should call them Volk Canadians. Volk Canadians need not be racists per se, but they are creating a sort of racial identity for themselves in using this method of describing themselves.

Now why don’t we hear a great deal about Volk Canadians? There are a few reasons: While many of them may have political views, they aren’t that politically involved – I suspect that Harper is appealing to them in order to change that. Secondly, like I said, most of the Volk Canadian conversation happens only among those considered Volk Canadians. I suspect that most Volk Canadians have the sense that what they are saying about themselves and, by implication, about non-Volk Canadians isn’t really in line with Canada’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural identity, so they keep it on the down-low. Lastly, this creation of a Canadian Volk is most likely to be identified in lower economic and class strata. Since most of the media is targeted to professionals making $80 000+/yr most media isn’t talking to Volk Canadians. The closest they probably have to a voice in the media is Don Cherry.

Make no mistake though, the Volk Canadians are out there, if your ancestry is anything like mine you probably know because you’ve been privy to conversations where you just stare at your feet and/or get in a shouting-match with co-workers or family members. If you haven’t, then you need to know that this is going on in our country. We who reject the being called “real” Canadians at the exclusion of all other Canadians don’t like to talk about it, because, it’s embarrassing to us, believe me. But you need to be aware that Harper’s Conservatives are courting this group of people and is attempting to politicize them.

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