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Religion and Ethnicity in Canada

Religion and Ethnicity in Canada

Paul Bramadat
David Seljak
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Religion and Ethnicity in Canada
    Book Description:

    As the leading book in its field,Religion and Ethnicity in Canadahas been embraced by scholars, teachers, students, and policy makers as a breakthrough study of Canadian religio-ethnic diversity and its impact on multiculturalism.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8613-7
    Subjects: Sociology, Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-ix)
    Paul Bramadat and David Seljak
  4. About the Editors
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Contributors
    (pp. x-xii)
  6. chapter one Beyond Christian Canada: Religion and Ethnicity in a Multicultural Society
    (pp. 1-29)
    Paul Bramadat

    When you ask a friend to tell you about her religious identity, you expect a certain kind of answer: she will probably say she is Buddhist, Muslim, Roman Catholic, or an adherent of another major tradition. Similarly, when you ask her about her ethnic identity, you assume that she will tell you about her Italian, Czech, Peruvian, or Laotian roots. If you know her well, you might ask her to tell you about the ways in which her religious and ethnic identities influence, or even determine, one another. Most of us have no idea what to expect from her in...


    • chapter two Hindus in Canada: Negotiating Identity in a “Different” Homeland
      (pp. 30-51)
      Sikata Banerjee and Harold Coward

      InImagined Communities(1983:10) Benedict Anderson argues that religion’s enduring power lies in its ability to address vital questions of human life centred on death, disease, misery, and loneliness. Consequently, religion forms a foundational component of human identity and creates a familiar space when people arrive in a new country. As Hindus from all over the world—India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Uganda, Tanzania, Trinidad, and Guyana—came to Canada their rituals and ceremonies provided support as they traversed an unfamiliar cultural terrain. However, as Paul Bramadat points out in Chapter 1, they did not unpack their religion like a...

    • chapter three Sikhs in Canada: Identity and Commitment
      (pp. 52-68)
      Cynthia Keppley Mahmood

      In 2002 Canadian Sikhs celebrated the centennial of Sikhs’ arrival in Canada. Gold pins showing the maple leaf entwined with thekhanda, the Sikh doubled-edged sword, adorned lapels, sweaters, andkameezes(traditional Punjabi tunics); fusion music mixing the best of South Asian sitar with hip hop thudded across dance floors at parties from Toronto to Vancouver. In many ways, the Sikhs have fully “arrived” as an element of multicultural Canada. Young Sikhs in particular have embraced the policy and tradition of Canadian multiculturalism, which they assume promotes the notions of citizenship in an ethnically neutral Canadian state and the privatization...

    • chapter four Buddhists in Canada: Impermanence in a Land of Change
      (pp. 69-88)
      Mathieu Boisvert

      Buddhism centres on the notion of impermanence and Canadian Buddhists have had to negotiate new forms of religious and ethnic identity in a rapidly changing country. A woman I interviewed in Montreal tells one part of the story. She was born in Cambodia in the 1960s into a fairly wealthy family. At the age of 16, she arrived alone in Montreal as a refugee. Her language skills and thorough knowledge of French allowed her to integrate quickly so that, within one year, she was financially independent. She worked as an interpreter between the so-called Cambodian boat people and the various...

    • chapter five The Chinese in Canada: Their Unrecognized Religion
      (pp. 89-110)
      David Chuenyan Lai, Jordan Paper and Li Chuang Paper

      On any Sunday in the “Chinatowns” of downtown and suburban Toronto and Vancouver, the streets and malls will be jam-packed with Chinese of all ages. Families and groups of friends will be waiting in long lines for a table at the many, huge “dimsum” (dianxin) restaurants. Stores will be thronged with people buying Chinese vegetables and fruits; processed, frozen and dried foods from all over China; packets of spirit-money and other offerings to the dead of the family and to deities; and various furnishings for altars in family homes. We have found that if Chinese Canadians purchasing these ritual paraphernalia...

    • chapter six Jews in Canada: A Travelling Cantor on the Prairie, and Other Pictures of Canadian Jewish Life
      (pp. 111-132)
      Norman Ravvin

      Although Jews are an important and prominent minority in Canada, it is arguable that they are not well understood by the country’s mainstream. Religion is likely the first concept employed by non-Jews to understand Jewish life and culture, leading to an ongoing interest among sociologists and journalists in the denominations of Jewish worship, which include Orthodoxy, the Conservative movement, and Reform Judaism. Orthodox Jews attend to as many as possible of the 613 biblical commandments that are associated with daily life, from food preparation and modes of dress to rituals of social interaction and prayer. From the Hebrew Bible and...

    • chapter seven Muslims in Canada: From Ethnic Groups to Religious Community
      (pp. 133-153)
      Sheila McDonough and Homa Hoodfar

      Before the 1980s, Muslims in Canada lived in a society that was largely ignorant of Islam, but generally hospitable. Only later, after the Iranian revolution of 1979, did the media begin to feature articles about Islam as a threat and source of political conflict. This media coverage generated many misconceptions about the complexity of Islam and who Muslims in Canada were. It failed to provide a window on the real world of Muslims in Canada. It especially missed the remarkable vitality and purposefulness of many Muslims who have sought to participate fully in Canadian society while maintaining their religious heritage....


    • chapter eight Religion and Public Policy: Immigration, Citizenship, and Multiculturalism—Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
      (pp. 154-177)
      John Biles and Humera Ibrahim

      Drawing from our experiences within the two most important federal ministries for immigration, citizenship, and multiculturalism, ¹ we will illustrate how these federal policy areas intermesh and form the nucleus of what has recently been described as the “Canadian diversity model.” To begin, we will briefly sketch how religion has helped shape these policies and yet somehow become the form of diversity that “dares not speak its name.” We examine immigration most extensively, as it is a bona fide policy area with distinct boundaries while multiculturalism and citizenship are more diffuse. By outlining the parameters of these broader policies, we...

    • chapter nine Education, Multiculturalism, and Religion
      (pp. 178-200)
      David Seljak

      In the spring of 2002, 12-year-old Gurbaj Singh found himself in the middle of a heated public debate after he walked into Sainte Catherine Labouré School in Lasalle, Quebec. The controversy surrounded his kirpan, a small ceremonial dagger that Sikhs are obliged to wear at all times. Newspaper columnists, talk-radio hosts, pundits, educators, religious specialists, and, naturally, lawyers waded into the argument. Finally, a Quebec superior-court judge ruled that the young Gurbaj could wear a blunted kirpan, sheathed in wood and cloth, and concealed under his clothes (Carrol 2002). Such controversies are not limited to Quebec, or even Canada. In...

    • chapter ten Health Care, Religion, and Ethnic Diversity in Canada
      (pp. 201-221)
      Peter H. Stephenson

      Religious beliefs and practices that are centrally important for human beings cluster around the interconnected transformations of life—those being birth, sexuality, and death.¹ These transformations are also the focus of medical/healing practices in virtually all cultures. However, the meaning associated with such life-crisis events varies quite a bit and may be associated with conflicts both within and between religious traditions. Canada, with its population diversity, multicultural government policies and legalCharter of Rights and Freedoms, is a nation that confronts many challenges in dealing with the health care of adherents of many distinctive religious traditions.

      Birth, for example, immediately...

    • chapter eleven Toward a New Story about Religion and Ethnicity in Canada
      (pp. 222-234)
      Paul Bramadat and David Seljak

      In Chapter 1, Paul Bramadat imagined a conversation one might have with a friend or colleague in which one asks about this person’s ethnic and religious background. If one were to ask this person to consider the ways in which these two dimensions of her life are interconnected, one might find that the discussion moves into relatively uncharted waters. One of the purposes of this book is to help scholars, students, and policy-makers think more clearly about the complex relationships between religion, ethnicity, and Canadian society that would likely be involved in this imaginary conversation. In order to do this,...

  9. Appendix: Demographics of Religious Identification in Canada
    (pp. 235-240)
  10. Index
    (pp. 241-252)