Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Ukrainian Ethnicity and Language Interactions in Saskatchewan

Academic journal article Canadian Ethnic Studies Journal

Ukrainian Ethnicity and Language Interactions in Saskatchewan

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper explores the reported ethnic self-identity of Saskatchewan residents with Ukrainian ancestry, the role of the Ukrainian language in this identity, and the correlation between the factors of ethnic identity, Ukrainian language proficiency, age, gender, and generation. The results show that most participants (Saskatchewan residents with Ukrainian ancestry) identify themselves as "Ukrainian Canadians," about a quarter of respondents identify themselves as "Ukrainian," and about 15% as "Canadian." The results confirm the importance of language in the construction of ethnicity. Most individuals with self-identified "Ukrainian" and "Ukrainian Canadian" ethnicities had Ukrainian as their sole mother tongue in childhood, whereas individuals who self-identify as "Canadian" did not. The use and knowledge of Ukrainian, as well as the level of comfort with the language, are the highest in the "Ukrainian" ethnic group, followed by the "Ukrainian Canadian" group, and are the lowest in the "Canadian" and "Other" groups. The study shows that the immigrant generation, gender, and experience with bilingual schools are also contributing social factors in perceived ethnic self-identity. The results suggest that the opportunities to take Ukrainian language courses in Saskatchewan could be improved. The study helps to establish the components of Ukrainian Canadian ethnicity and explore its diversity and complexity, particularly in relationship to the maintenance of the Ukrainian language.

Resume

Dans cet article, nous explorons l'identite ethnique auto-declaree des residents de la Saskatchewan d'origine ukrainienne, le role de la langue maternelle dans cette identification et la correlation entre ces divers facteurs : identite ethnique, maitrise de I'ukrainien, age, genre et generation. Il ressort de notre etude que les participants, (les residents ci-dessus) s'identifient pour la plupart aux "Ukrainiens Canadiens", un quart d'entre aux comme "Ukrainiens" et environ 15% aux "Canadiens". Ces resultats confirment l'importance de la langue dans la construction identitaire : la plupart des personnes qui se voient ethniquement comme "Ukrainiens" ou "Canadiens ukrainiens" ne parlaient que la leur dans leur enfance, alors que celles qui se pergoivent comme "Canadiens" ne le faisaient pas. Ainsi, le degre auquel les participants ont recours a leur langue maternelle, la connaissent et la parlent avec aisance est le plus eleve dans le groupe ethnique "ukrainien", suivi par celui des "Canadiens ukrainiens", et il est le plus bas chez les "Canadiens" et groupes "autres". D'apres cette etude, les facteurs sociaux que sont la generation de ces immigrants, leur genre et leur experience dans des ecoles d'immersion ukrainiennes ont aussi contribue a renforcer ce qui est a leurs yeux leur identite ethnique. Les resultats donnent a penser qu'on pourrait accroitre les occasions de suivre des cours d'ukrainien en Saskatchewan. Cette etude aide a etablir les composantes de I'ethnicite canadienne ukrainienne et permet de sonder sa diversite et sa complexity particulierement en relation avec le maintien de la langue maternelle.

INTRODUCTION

Heritage languages and ethnicity

Ethnicity is a complex social and cultural phenomenon, a part of the "cultural code" that constitutes "a component of individuals' identity" (Shoshana 2011, 49). Ethnicity is addressed in anthropology, sociology, ethnic studies, and linguistics, hence there have been hundreds of attempts to define ethnicity from the perspectives of different disciplines (Fought 2006, 3-4). Most researchers agree that ethnicity is a "socially constructed category not based on any measurable criteria," that it has to be studied "within the context of other social variables," and that it is constructed via self-identification, as well as the perceptions and attitudes of others (ibid., 4-6). Language plays an important role in the construction of ethnicity (ibid. …

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