First White Settlers in Canada

First White Settlers in Canada

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Through the narration of white settler society construct, that is, the notion that Canada is a nation founded by the French and British, only certain interests are taken into account. Daiva Stasiulus and Radha Jhappan’s article “The Fractious Politics of a Settler Society in Canada,” demonstrate how this construct is problematic in Canada’s nation building process. Ultimately, both Stasiulus and Jhappan demonstrate how white settler society construct has been a main cause of social inequality and lack of diversity both historically and presently in Canada.
     The authors begin by outlining the historical problems which white settler society construct presented. First, they point out that as white settlement began in earnest, the confiscation of the Aboriginals land was justified in terms of their failure to qualify as a ‘civilized’ community (98). As Stasiulus and Jhappan outline, the violence that went into colonizing the Aboriginal community, is therefore seen as justifiable because the Aboriginal communities’ different world-views, cultures, notion of property and ‘pagan’ beliefs are presented as evidence for their unfit ownership to the land.
     A second limitation of white settler society construct that Stasiulus and Jhappan outline is that fact that settlement and immigration in Canada was considerably more ethnically and racially diverse than the white British settler agenda suggested. Indeed, it was this diversity which compelled the conscious construction of a racial/ethnic hierarchy. What was soon implemented was a ‘white Canada’ immigration policy that was designed to aggressively recruit what was considered the ‘best classes’ of British men and women. Non-European immigrants would be excluded unless their cheap labor was needed, in which case they could be granted lesser access to settlers and citizens’ rights.
Finally, Stasiulus and Jhappan point out that the assumptions of the white settler society construct were not only racist but also androcentric. The authors argue that they focused primarily on men’s activities in the public sphere (in production and in government), and women are regarded as little more than breeders to reproduce ‘the nation, the empire and the future race.’ In reality, the authors point out that, women played multiple roles, depending on their race/ethnic class. For example, Caribbean women were only immigrated to Canada not as reproducers but as domestic workers. Clearly, these factors not only determined the kind of work women preformed, but also as the authors point out, their role in controlling and oppressing other women.
     Issues that Stasiulus and Jhappan outline, raise questions about the concept of Canada’s nation.

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     In defining nation as a social construct, we have to look at who has the power to decide who is coming in and what job they will perform. Although the term nation suggests that there is a sense of solidarity, we have to continue to question how this solidarity is enforced. Historically, white settler society construct enforced this solidarity in such a way where people (for example, that of women, most specifically racialized women) continued to be seen as outsiders. Today, through Canada’s immigration policies, white settler society construct continues to permeate throughout much of Canada’s nation building.
     Sedef Arat-Koc’s article “In The Privacy Of Our Own Home: Foreign Domestic Workers As A Solution To The Domestic Sphere In Canada,” forcefully demonstrates how immigration policies are constructed on the notion of white settler society construct. According to Arat-Koc, Canada is facing a “crises” in the domestic sphere. For Arat-Koc, this is demonstrated in three major ways. First, Arat-Koc states that the behavior of men in homes has changed very little in terms of their contributions to the housework and parenting responsibilities. Second, Arat-Koc states that the childcare situation in Canada is in a state of crises where the quality and dependability of childcare in Canada is unknown. Third, Arat-Koc argues that Canadian employers and the state have provided little accommodation for the family responsibilities of working people and thus parents suggest the inflexibility of work arrangements. Ultimately, Arat-Koc states that several governmental and mass media courses have approvingly cited the employment of domestic workers as a solution to the domestic sphere crises in Canada. For Arat-Koc, the survival of domestic service in Canada today is politically determined by the lack of adequate and good quality childcare services as well as the continuing availability through immigration legislation and practices and discriminatory labour laws, of a cheap and vulnerable source of foreign domestic servants. Today, the recruitment of domestics from abroad is still linked to Canada’s nation building efforts. As Arat-Koc demonstrates, the official purpose of the employment visa system is to meet the urgent and temporary needs of Canadian employers to fill jobs that cannot be filled domestically without ultimately threatening the employment opportunities of Canadian residents.      Theoretically, immigration policies are set in order to increase diversity. However, there still remains to be a number of barriers which are systematically implemented in order to prevent unwanted citizens from immigrating into Canada. For example, the inability to work in the capitalist society and the inability to speak fluent English or French are some of the many barriers which are set up in order to prevent unwanted immigrants from gaining citizenship into Canada. Thus, third world citizens are not able to come because we continue to look for a particular type of immigrant who has the most potential to become what is considered to be an ideal Canadian. For third world citizens who are allowed to come to Canada as “guest workers,” (i.e. domestic servants) their still remains to be a many ways that their statuses are undermined. Foreign domestic workers who come as “guest workers” have no rights to stay in Canada or claim social security benefits and cannot leave domestic services without leaving Canada. If immigration indeed is about diversity, we must question why it is that we continue to systematically create a nation that still realies on many of the white settler society constructs as it did historically. If we still believe that French and British made Canada then the laws which go into making up Canada are really laws of interest.
      White settler society constructs remains to be problematic because it takes away from the violence and reality of colonization of the Aboriginal community. Indeed, the history and the reality of Aboriginal people are erased by assuming that the nation (Canada) was settled by white society. Today, Canada’s National identity centers on the very notion of it being multicultural. However, the problem with this identity is that it is still continues to be framed around a very white/Eurocentric mode of thinking. These racist and classist notions of the ‘ideal Canadian’ forcefully emerge through immigration policies which create systematic barriers in order to prevent certain individuals who do not meet the Eurocentric white settler society construct mode of thinking, from immigrating to Canada. Through the immigration policies, it is evident that even today, we still continue to practice polices that exclude others by giving ‘ideal’ immigrant candidates more privilege and precedence over those who are not ideal. Ethnic and racial fragmentation thus became a central feature of the Canadian society’s labor market from its onset, and overly racist immigration policies which were historically implemented, and still continue to exist even today.

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