Academic journal article Urban History Review

Public Commemoration and Ethnocultural Assertion: Winnipeg Celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation

Academic journal article Urban History Review

Public Commemoration and Ethnocultural Assertion: Winnipeg Celebrates the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation

Article excerpt

The Canada-wide celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation was intended to promote the idea of a "new nationality" based on the linguistic and cultural dualism associated with Canada's two "founding races." The widespread participation of New Canadians in the celebrations was expected to accelerate their assimilation into the "melting pot" of the new nationality, which did not recognize the legitimacy of dual identities and loyalties. Winnipeg's diverse and marginalized ethnic communities challenged both the official meanings of the Diamond Jubilee and the hegemonic Anglo-conformity of the city's civic culture. They transformed the celebrations into a vehicle for representing their ethnocultural identities in the public sphere and asserting an alternative, pluralistic version of Canadian nationality. Winnipeg's Jubilee celebrations became a milestone in an ongoing "dialectic of resistance and accommodation" that allowed immigrant groups to negotiate the terms of their integration into Canadian society, and that continues to structure the relationship between minority and mainstream cultures in the twenty-first century.

La celebration pancanadienne du Jubile de diamant de la Confederation etait sensee promouvoir l'idee d'une nationalite * nouvelle * fondee sur la dualite linguistiaue et culturelle associee aux deux * peuples fondateurs * du Canada. On s'attendait a ce que la participation a grande echelle de neo- Canadiens accelere leur assimilation au creuset (* melting pot *) de la nouvelle nationalite, qui ne reconnait pas la legitimite d'une double identite et d'appartenances partagees. Les diverses communautes ethniques marginalisees de Winnipeg ont conteste tant la signification officielle du Jubile de diamant que l'anglo-conformite hegemonique de la culture civique municipale. Elles ont transforme la fete en un vehicule pour representer leurs identites ethnoculturelles dans la sphere publique et affirmer une version alternative pluraliste de la nationalite canadienne. Les celebrations du Jubile de Winnipeg sont devenues un jalon dans un processus continu de * dialectique de la resistance et de l'accommodement * qui a permis a des groupes d'immigrants de negocier les conditions de leur integration dans la societe canadienne et qui continue de structurer la relation entre cultures minoritaires et dominantes au [XXI.sup.e] siecle.

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The Canada-wide celebration of the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation was intended to promote the idea of a "new nationality" based on the linguistic and cultural dualism associated with Canada's two "founding races." The widespread participation of New Canadians in the celebrations was expected to accelerate their assimilation into the "melting pot" of the new nationality, which did not recognize the legitimacy of dual identities and loyalties. Winnipeg's diverse and marginalized ethnic communities challenged both the official meanings of the Diamond Jubilee and the hegemonic Anglo-conformity of the city's civic culture. They transformed the celebrations into a vehicle for representing their ethnocultural identities in the public sphere and asserting an alternative, pluralistic version of Canadian nationality, Winnipeg's Jubilee celebrations became a milestone in an ongoing "dialectic of resistance and accommodation" that allowed immigrant groups to negotiate the terms of their integration into Canadian society, and that continues to structure the relationship between minority and mainstream cultures in the twenty-first century.

In modern social theory, it has become axiomatic to treat ethnicity as a historical and cultural construct, with its origins in relations of inequality, rather than a timeless "primordial" essence. Ethnic characteristics denoting inferiority, for example, are ascribed to particular groups by dominant elites, as a means of preserving their own superior status. But they can also be asserted by the "culturally defined" ethnic Other, as part of a strategy of collective mobilization in the struggle for economic resources and social and political equality. …

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