Conceptions of Canada as a Peaceful Nation

Essay by ad06jqUniversity, Bachelor'sA, November 2008

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Canadians often pride themselves as being different from, and more innocent than their American neighbors, who have a well-known history of slavery and racism. Canada is built upon naïve and passive conceptions of being a kinder, gentler, and more peaceful nation in comparison to the United States. These unchallenged assumptions, or myths, allow Canada to "tell a story of national goodness," while effectively erasing sections of history that would otherwise take away from this clean image (Razack 2000:134). These general ideologies were similar to my notion of Canada as a multicultural and tolerant nation, before taking the time to develop a profound understanding as to how these beliefs are fostered throughout society in order to uphold dominant racial and gendered hierarchies. In this paper, I hope to illustrate how my attitude and awareness toward discourses of Canada as a benign nation has developed through readings, lectures, and a relative film.

Through summary and analysis of this research, I intend to demonstrate how these nationally constructed ideas constitute a form of racial and gender-based discrimination that is ultimately embedded in history and reinforced through social institutions. I will begin by summarizing both articles and the film. I will then link the intricate concepts by providing a deeper personal analysis.

In the first article, "From the 'Clean Snows of Petawawa': The Violence of Canadian Peacekeepers in Somalia," Razack (2000) reveals the shocking, yet generally unheard of atrocities performed by Canadian peacekeepers to Somalis in 1992. These acts included numerous instances of violence, rape, torture, and degradation to seemingly innocent Somalis (Razack 2000:127). Razack (2000:127) describes the Canadian soldiers' gratification in the abuse, where pictures and videos emerged with peacekeepers proudly "posing with bound Somalis, many of whom were children". What is most disturbing is how recorded documents of these violent stories have...