Race and Ethnicity: Canadians are not "colour-blind"

Essay by ngelsaUniversity, Bachelor'sA, August 2007

download word file, 8 pages 4.0

After many years of history, Canada has become a diverse and complex society composed of different racial and ethnic groups. Hence, race and ethnicity have become two of the many major issues in Canada. Race is defined as a socially constructed category composed of people "who have been singled out as inferior or superior, often on the basis of physical characteristics" (Newman, 1995). The physical characteristics are "biologically transmitted traits that members of a society consider important" (Macionis, Jansson, and Benoit, 2004, p.262). As "race refers only to physical characteristics… ethnicity refers to [shared and common] cultural features." Cultural features include "language, religion, national origin, common heritage, dress, or any other distinctive cultural trait" (Kendall, Murray, and Linden, 2000, p.305). Canadians declare to be "colour-blind" themselves and believe that "race doesn't matter here [in Canada]" (James and Shadd, 1994, p.47). However, the reality is that they are more concerned than ever about race and ethnicity because race and ethnicity determine that dominant groups receive more social resources.

The fact that race allows dominant groups to be better off has drawn sociologists to explore the field of race and ethnicity. They have examined the social meaning and social significance of race and ethnicity, and analyzed racial and ethnic relations from sociological perspectives. Some sociologists have even investigated the effects of racism on the subordinate groups such as the First Nations. Using the findings of the sociologists and the struggle of the First Nations as a historical example, this paper will illustrate that Canadians are indeed not "colour-blind" .

The First Nations, as Kendall, Murray, and Linden define, "are diverse groups which are known as Natives, Aboriginals, or Aboriginal peoples. [They] include "the Inuit, Cree, Micmac, Blackfoot, Iroquois, and Haida. Other categories of people are status Indians, non-status Indians, and Métis"...