Nationhood In Canada

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The concept of nationhood in Canada is one that has been highly debated throughout Canada’s history from initial English-French conflict between first settlers, to the debates leading up to confederation in 1867, to the present. These struggles between English and French Canadians to have their distinct identities recognized as part of the fabric of the country remains a constant in the narrative of Canadian history and politics from 1864 onwards. As the country grew and changed throughout the 20th century, the founding “two nations” principle that divides the country as either French or English, shaped the idea of nationhood in Canada and became an important topic of political discourse. After the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s the Québecois …show more content…
Two concepts of nationhood that relate to the question of Canada’s relationship with the province of Québec are the political nation in contrast with the cultural nation. Both of these ideas of nationhood stem from the greater abstract concept of nationhood as ethnic and civic characteristics that interact with one another to shape a group or place’s identity. In Québec, these ethnic and civic characteristics are the result of “a distinct religious, cultural and linguistic heritage” rooted in the idea of “survivance” that came after the British colonization in the 1800s and hoped to create a barrier between English and French settlers in order to actively combat the threat of assimilation. Initially this distinct religious and cultural heritage was deeply rooted in the teachings and values of the Catholic church. The discourse of “survivance” of the minority was further strengthened by the establishment of the Province of Canada in 1840, a majority English-speaking colony, and the limited seats for French Canadians in the National Assembly. This definition of nationhood tends more to the side of cultural nationhood but integrates the political as underrepresentation is central to the identity in the eyes of French …show more content…
These two fields of thought are written of in reference to one another but can be viewed as independent ideals for nationhood. They provide a lens through which to evaluate the Québecois identity and society when deciding how to address the uniqueness of the province of Québec, in the context of its relationship to Canada. The first field of thought, the political nation, centres on the idea of participation in policy and democratic values, as defining qualities of a nation. The idea of the political nation relates to “a distinctive political territory”, able to self govern, from a set of traditions and rules, usually outlined in a constitution. Cultural nationhood, focuses on language and culture as key contributors to “ national” identity. In the case of Québec, the French language serves as the main cultural pillar of Québecois identity and as such is “the vehicle through which (Québecois) culture is expressed”. As such, cultural nationhood focuses on the main principles of collective memory common cultural identity, and a view for the future. This definition echoes the notion of a distinct society, as it articulates the cultural differences of the province and does not bring forth the image of needing political autonomy in order to preserve this cultural difference, as does the word “nation”. These concepts of nationhood each contain central elements of the concept of nationhood

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