Cambodian Refugees in Ontario

Cambodian Refugees in Ontario: Resettlement, Religion, and Identity

JANET McLELLAN
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442697713
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  • Book Info
    Cambodian Refugees in Ontario
    Book Description:

    Janet McLellan uses ten years of ethnographic fieldwork, including extensive interviews, to highlight the difficulties Cambodians have faced in Canada.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9771-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-19)

    A common theme throughout Canadian immigration history has been the setting of the priorities and principles of selection as to who is admissible and under what conditions. Total numbers, specified categories, availability of candidates, or criteria for rejection arise through the issuing of various Orders-in-Council, government regulations, and amendments (Kubat 1979: 23). The roles and status of immigrant populations are influenced by policies of admissibility and category identification, particularly as they encourage or discourage permanent settlement, facilitate or impede citizenship participation, and either offer or withhold social benefits (Richmond 1988: 47). Bureaucratic behaviour, interpretation in the implementation of legislated regulations,...

  6. 1 A Brief History of Cambodians
    (pp. 20-35)

    Ninety per cent of the population of Cambodia is Khmer, a people whose history in Indochina dates back to 1500 BCE (Garry 1980). The Khmer lifestyle of rice cultivation and animal husbandry developed in symmetry with the annual monsoons and two main seasons (a dry, cool winter and a hot, wet summer). The serpent Naga was venerated as the primary guardian spirit of the land, and later, as a protector of Buddha. Following the marriage between an Indian prince and a Khmer princess in the first century CE, Khmer people became known as Kampucheans. The influences of India and, to...

  7. 2 Cambodian Resettlement in Canada
    (pp. 36-60)

    Upon resettlement, Cambodians faced a radical disjunction from their pre-migration experiences under the Khmer Rouge, the Vietnamese communist occupation, and within the Thai refugee camps. Ong describes their experience, noting that ‘Cambodian refugees moved from a regime of power over death to a regime of power over life, from a state that governed by eliminating knowledge to one that promotes the self-knowing subject, from a system based on absolute control to one that governs through freedom, from a society that enforced initiative for collective survival to one that celebrates individualistic self-cultivation … and pressures to perform as knowing subjects who...

  8. 3 Community Distinctions and Divisions
    (pp. 61-84)

    Khmer elites and professionals who survived the Khmer Rouge tended to choose France for resettlement. Having been educated in French, their qualifications were readily accepted. Merchants and businesspeople, former government officials, and soldiers from several political factions (Lon Nol, Khmer Rouge, Khmer Serei) chose the United States. A military record or previous business dealings with Americans made their acceptance for resettlement easier. Canada, Australia, and New Zealand became resettlement options for those without professional, business, or military backgrounds. According to Employment and Immigration Canada immigration statistics, almost 85 per cent of Cambodians who resettled in Canada from 1980 to 1992...

  9. 4 Re-creating Cambodian Buddhist Temples and the Significance of Tradition
    (pp. 85-122)

    Religious identities among Cambodian refugees are influenced by their experiences of war, seeking asylum, refugee camp life, involvements concerning sponsorship and resettlement, and the long-term process of dealing with the demands of adaptation and integration into Canadian society. The means and the extent to which they adapt, re-create, transform, or change their religious identities and traditions in the Canadian context are tied to these pre-migration and resettlement experiences. Cambodians in Ontario have had to put great effort into maintaining traditional Buddhist religious identities and practices. During the early years of resettlement when religious and cultural bonds would have done much...

  10. 5 Cambodian Christians in Ontario
    (pp. 123-146)

    The conversion themes, values, and aspirations of Cambodian Christians who resettled in Ontario have similarities to those of new Christian converts from elsewhere in Southeast Asia and Asia Pacific. Miyazaki (2000), Hefner (1993), and Schieffelin (1981) indicate that Christian conversions in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji reflect transitions from traditional lifestyles to those of modernity, new moral systems of support and reciprocity, and different opportunities for upward mobility and social hierarchy. Among Hindu Javanese, for example, youth who were active in the new Christian church became the best educated and most cosmopolitan (Hefner 1993: 115). They not only easily...

  11. 6 Challenges and Concerns of Ontario Cambodian Youth
    (pp. 147-178)

    As Zhou and Bankston have pointed out, ‘children growing up in households headed by poor, low-skilled immigrants face uncertain prospects for moving ahead through school success. The parents, of course, have few of the economic resources that can help children do well in school. The environment does not help when neighborhoods are poor, beset by violence and drugs, and local schools do not function well. To add to this difficulty, immigrant children receive conflicting signals, hearing at home that they should achieve at school while learning a different lesson – that of rebellion against authority and rejection of the goals of...

  12. 7 Re-envisioning Khmer Identities within Transnational Networks
    (pp. 179-208)

    Faist (2000) suggests three kinds of transnational social spaces that reflect different degrees of integration and interaction within diasporic contexts: transnational kinship groups that focus on families and small-scale reciprocity; transnational circuits with a focus on cultural, economic, and ideological networks of exchange; and the transnational community as an agency wherein a diasporic collectivity and sense of solidarity are articulated. All three function to create social and symbolic ties (imagined and/or tangible) across geopolitical boundaries that increase peoples’ connection to one another (ibid.: 196). The ability of first-generation Khmer in Ontario to develop transnational networks with Cambodia and other Khmer...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 209-234)
  14. References
    (pp. 235-250)
  15. Index
    (pp. 251-263)