Cultural Assimilation

Canada: Culture, Religion, and Aboriginals

I write this post after hearing again this week that Aboriginals should just assimilate into society. Canadian society that is.

After thinking about this comment for some time, I am going to give the person the benefit of the doubt and say that she probably meant no harm in saying it. There is, however, harm in saying such a thing. Especially to an Aboriginal person. Why is that? Well it was the very same act *assimilation* that has put Aboriginals in the state that they are in today. Unhealthy: mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

I am then reminded of a comment my Irish friend made me to me one day. He said, “I am proud to be Canadian.” And I told him, “That I don’t think there is enough of that.” He asked what I meant and I said “proud Canadians.” I then gave the example to him that a lot of people that I know (besides him) don’t ever say: “I am a proud Canadian.” They usually say, “I am proud to be Italian…” or German or Korean or Mexican and so on. I told him in comparison to the states, Canada doesn’t really have it’s own “culture.” And it’s true about Canada, it is rather a mixture of cultures than rather a country that possesses it’s own culture.

Saying that to him I was reminded of some younger people’s lack of faith in religion. Perhaps today religion is not as strong as it once used to be. Especially in Canada. I think that religion creates a lot of difficulties especially in regards to creating divisions (and by religion I mean Christianity/Catholicism..the very 2 religions that attempted to assimilate Aboriginals into Canadian society). Even in past history, conflict and violence erupted because of people’s different views on the church and religion of the past. Sometimes people ask me what my religion is and I always answer “I don’t have a religion.” They usually look puzzled and stumped at the same time after hearing my answer. I then explain to them that my culture is not a religion and that it is my values, beliefs, and way of life. When I think of religion (mostly Christianity/Catholicism), I think of conflict, divisions, violence. I do not want to be associated to that. Most certainly I do not want someone thinking the same thing as me to associate those descriptive words with the thought or idea of practicing Aboriginal culture.

But what I am really trying to get at in writing this post and sharing these views and stories is that I believe Canada does not have it’s own culture and that it rather has a mixture of cultures. Also religion is not the same as Aboriginal culture. And that religion is not valued as much as it once was in Canada. But most importantly in regards to the comment relating to Aboriginals assimilating into Canadian society–just because Canada does not have it’s own distinct culture and that just because it does not think highly of the values of it’s own existing religions within… Aboriginals shouldn’t have to be one in the same—lacking culture and devaluing their beliefs.

Intelligence & Aboriginals

This post is in response to my previous post titled “Intelligence and Cultural Assimilation.”

Maybe the gap between intelligence score tests isn’t with one particular ethnic group being cultural assimilated into any one dominant society, but rather it is the main-stream education system.

One issue that Canadian Aboriginals face is that they still continue to lag in education and employment numbers in comparison to the rest of Canada. I don’t say this to highlight the worse but I say this to make a point. If you measure education success as purely having a certain number of degrees, then yes maybe Aboriginals do lag. However, I beg to differ that there are a great number of Aboriginals that lag in its entirety in comparison to the rest of Canadian society. I have met and know of many bright, intelligent, inquisitive, creative, Aboriginals both young and old who have not gone onto post-secondary education. These people have chosen to not go into main-stream society education yet they still possess the ability to “blend into” any type of topic up for grabs in conversation. I also know of many Aboriginals who were considered “intellectually gifted” but never gone onto post-secondary education. Maybe it was because they were not being challenged enough? Maybe it was because their abilities were not fully appreciated? Maybe they felt that further education had little to no use to them since they were not being fully challenged or their abilities being fully appreciated? I am not sure of the answer, but I do know that these individuals are just as bright as someone in post-secondary education. These people own businesses, participate in their community, and most importantly contribute to main-stream Canadian Society just not in the rigid ways set out for measuring the rest of main-stream society. Most definitely, when we calculate intelligence, we need to look at other factors and not just the number of degrees one has under his/her belt.

Note: This post is to not say that one ethnic group is better than another or that one system is better than another. It is acknowledging the fact that different groups have different needs and those different needs should be acknowledged if all ethnic groups, not just one group, are to be considered successful. I also write this post not to further oppress the actual problems that Canadian Aboriginals face in current Canadian Society, but highlight the fact that there are some current success. The problems that some communities and individuals face should never be displaced because of one community or one individual’s lone success. That is to say, there are problems and successes within Aboriginal groups, but the factors to define the problems and success between various groups should be changed to address the needs/differences amongst these groups.

Intelligence & Cultural Assimilation

The textbook being quoted in this post is titled Psychology Frontiers and Applications, 3rd Edition, with appropriate page numbers in brackets following quote.

I had to get this post out and published before I head to bed.

I am currently studying for my psychology test in two weeks. I just finished reading a chapter on Intelligence. In this chapter, various factors that contribute to a person’s intelligence. Some of these factors include, genes, biology, environment and culture.

I am going to go out on a limb when I write this post, but I have to write it!

In this chapter it talked about Italian immigrants were a “danger to the [USA] gene pool.” (393) This quote obviously represents an old and out-dated view that tried to use Darwin’s theory of evolution to create superior and inferior species and animals. These dangers were because Italian American students achieved much lower test scores, which was on the same average as African-Americans. It further states, “cultural assimilation and educational and economic opportunity seem much more reasonable explanations for this pronounced increase in test scores.” (393) The test score increases were only discussed in Italian American students, not the African American student.

I was kind of not impressed with this particular reading for two reasons:

  1. The African American student was never discussed in the second part of the reading, which stated only the increase in Italian American Test scores could be possibly explained as part of “cultural assimilation.”
  2. This first reason leads into my second reason:

  3. It suggests that a particular ethnic group can only be successful on intelligence scores if they “learn” to assimilate into the larger culture.

This makes me quite angry with the fact that Aboriginals were one of the many groups that were supposed to be assimilated into Canadian society. Could it be this attempted assimilation be due to in part to the particular thought during the time? Sure why not. Unfortunately, this is 2010 and readings like this suggesting that a more reasonable explanation behind higher test scores for one particular ethnic group could possibly be because of “cultural assimilation” continue to force assimilation, not just onto one ethnic group but to any group that isn’t part of the “dominate” or “more western” culture.

  • Please read my post on “Extinction” regarding Aboriginals.
  • Read my response, titled Intelligence and Aboriginals, to this “reasonable explanation” of “cultural assimilation” in increased intelligence test scores.