Marlene Epp, Narrating the Canadian Mosaic: Immigration and Ethnicity in Canada / L’Immigration et l’ethnicité au Canada
Marlene Epp is editor of the series “Immigration and Ethnicity in Canada / Immigration et ethnicité au Canada”. She is Professor of History and Peace & Conflict Studies at Conrad Grebel University College at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.
Canada has about 200 ethnic groups, according to the most recent national census. To write the individual histories of all of these groups is a daunting, probably impossible, task. In 1979 the Canadian Historical Association (CHA), with funding from what is today named the Department of Canadian Heritage (Government of Canada), launched a project to commission brief histories of Canada’s ethnic groups. The booklet series, initially titled Canada’s Ethnic Groups, was meant to provide broad surveys – yet limited to about 35 pages – accessible to general readers, historians, and students from high school to graduate school. Funding was guaranteed for 40 booklets, and all were published simultaneously in English and French – Canada’s official languages.
The series was launched at a time when the nation was still basking in a then decade-long official federal policy on multiculturalism. The notion that Canada was a ‘mosaic’ of colourful, distinct cultural entities that were nevertheless part of a unified collective, was contrasted to the culture-erasing ‘melting pot’ of the United States. Needless to say, neither of those characterizations ring true in an absolute sense. Both countries, as ‘nations of immigrants’ – other than the indigenous peoples – are imbued with ideas, policies, and practices that reinforce ethnic and racial hierarchies.
The first four booklets in the series, all published in 1982, were about the Scots, the Portuguese, the Japanese, and the Poles in Canada. Subsequent booklets surveyed the East Indians, West Indians, Jews, and so on. All of the booklets are digitized and available on the Library and Archives Canada website and via the Canadian Historical Association website. Decision-making about which group to do next seems somewhat random, but was largely based on historians known for their expertise on a particular ethno-cultural collective. The series was ably edited by historians Phillip Buckner and Roberto Perin until 2009 when I was invited to edit the series.
In 1989, the series emphasis began to diverge from focusing only on specific ethnic groups, to covering important topics related to ethnicity and immigration in Canada more broadly. Subsequently, the series included surveys of specific ethnic groups, as was the original mandate, along with topics that ranged from surveys of Canadian immigration policy to ethnic minorities in the World Wars, to doing oral history with ethnic groups. To reflect this shift, the series was recently renamed “Immigration and Ethnicity in Canada / Immigration et ethnicité au Canada.”
The booklet series is one aspect of the CHA’s interest in issues of ethnicity and immigration. In 2009, the Canadian Committee on Migration, Ethnicity, and Transnationalism (a mouthful more commonly called CCMET) was formed as a subcommittee of the Canadian Historical Association. The Committee meets annually at the meetings of the CHA, awards an article prize, and primarily offers a network space for Canadian historians probing the past and present of the nation’s multi-ethnic, immigrant identities. CCMET sponsors thematic sessions at the CHA annual meeting and has sponsored two separate workshop-conference – on ‘Immigrant documents’ and ‘Immigrants and health’.
To date, 35 booklets in the Immigration and Ethnicity series have been published, the most recent on immigrant reception centers. Forthcoming are booklets on refugees, Filipinos, deportation, and redress movements. It is not clear what will be the next steps after the goal of 40 booklets is reached. Needless to say, we are still a very long way from 200.
In a global context in which multicultural and migratory identities are ever more important, there are endless topics for this series to explore.
You have an idea for a booklet? Please contact the series editor, Marlene Epp at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read all the brochures on Library and Archives Canada's website or below by clicking on the booklet you wish to read.
|Bumsted, J.M. The Scots in Canada, Volume 1|
|Higgs, David The Portuguese in Canada, Volume 2|
|Ward, W. Peter The Japanese in Canada, Volume 3|
|Avery, D.H.; Fedorowicz, J.K. The Poles in Canada, Volume 4|
|Johnston, Hugh The East Indians in Canada, Volume 5|
|Walker, James W. St. G. The West Indians in Canada, Volume 6|
|Vigod, Bernard L. The Jews in Canada, Volume 7|
|Lindstrom-Best, Varpu The Finns in Canada, Volume 8|
|Tan, Jin; Roy, Patricia The Chinese in Canada, Volume 9|
|Gerus, O.W. ; Rea, J.E. The Ukrainians in Canada, Volume 10|
|McLaughlin, K.M. The Germans in Canada, Volume 11|
|Wilson, David A. The Irish in Canada, Volume 12|
|Little, J.I. Ethno-Cultural Transition and Regional Identity in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, Volume 13|
|Ramirez, Bruno The Italians in Canada, Volume 14|
|Whitaker, Reg Canadian Immigration Policy, Volume 15|
|Barber, Marilyn Immigrant Domestic Servants in Canada, Volume 16|
|Palmer, Howard Ethnicity and Politics in Canada since Confederation, Volume 17|
|Behiels, Michael D. Quebec and the Question of Immigration: From Ethnocentrism to Ethnic Pluralism, 1900-1985, Volume 18|
|Thompson, John Herd Ethnic Minorities during Two World Wars, Volume 19|
|Jaenen, Cornelius J. The Belgians in Canada, Volume 20|
|Frenette, Yves The Anglo-Normans in Eastern Canada, Volume 21|
|Iacovetta, Franca The Writing of English Canadian Immigrant History, Volume 22|
|Pâquet, Martin Toward a Quebec ministry of Immigration, 1945 to 1968, Volume 23|
|Martel, Marcel French Canada: An Account of its Creation and Breakup, 1850-1967, Volume 24|
|Perin, Roberto The Third Force in Canadian Catholicism, 1880-1920, Volume 25|
|Cosentino, Frank Afros, Aboriginals and Amateur Sport in Pre World War One Canada, Volume 26|
|Patrias, Carmela The Hungarians in Canada, Volume 27|
|Dorais, Louis-Jacques The Cambodians, Laotians and Vietnamese in Canada, Volume 28|
|Loewen, Royden Ethnic Farm Culture in Western Canada, Volume 29|
|McGowan, Mark Creating Canadian Historical Memory: The Case of the Famine Migration of 1847, Volume 30|
|Zucchi, John, Volume 31
History of Ethnic Enclaves in Canada
|Freund, Alexandre, Volume 32
Oral History and Ethnic History
|Caron, Caroline-Isabelle, Volume 33
|Chilton, Lisa, Volume 34
Receiving Canada's Immigrants: The Work of the State Before 1930
|Epp, Marlene, Volume 35
Refugees in Canada, a Brief History
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