Session 4:Intercultural Past & Present

Canadian Ethnocultural Communities Respond to Indigenous Governments and Nations through the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action

Dr. Roman Petryshyn

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) appealed to Canadians to respond to its 94 recommendations or Calls to Action. To achieve this result in part, this presentation investigates establishing possible partnerships of Indigenous governments and nations with Canadian ethnocultural communities.  At least eight recommendations of the TRC touch on issues of specific relevance to Canadian ethnocultural communities, while two additional recommendations are directed to immigrants. To help realize this objective and help strengthen self-government over generations to come, this paper explores areas in which Canada’s Indigenous governments and ethnocultural communities share common interests. Canadian ethnocultural communities understand and share many of the values and objectives that Indigenous nations have regarding the maintenance and regeneration of heritage languages and cultures.


Dr. Roman Petryshyn was a longtime activist in the multicultural movement in the 1970s, resulting in his being employed as Northern Director, Cultural Heritage, Alberta Culture for several years. In 1986 he established the Office of Multiculturalism and Native Programming (OMNP) at Grant MacEwan Community College and later became the founding director of the Ukrainian Resource and Development Centre (URDC). He led that centre as the Drs. Peter and Doris Kule Chair in Ukrainian Community and International Development at Grant MacEwan University until he retired in 2015. His research and publications focus on the integration of Ukrainian minorities in Britain and Canada and include Changing Realities: Social Trends Among Ukrainian Canadians. Currently he is an Adjunct Assistant Professor with the Faculty of Education, University of Alberta.

Multiculturalism Cannot Contain Multitudes: Towards a Lateral Relationality and Undoing of Settler Colonialism

Chelsea Vowel

Despite claims to the contrary multiculturalism operates as the inheritor of official and unofficial policies both cultural and economic that are specifically designed to assimilate newcomers into the white supremacist settler colonial state, thereby ensuring the continued existence of Canada. While effort has been made recently to pay homage to Indigenous peoples as a singular founding people alongside the French and British, we continue to represent an existential threat that cannot be reconciled with the stated purpose of multiculturalism which centres awareness and celebration of diverse cultures. This presentation offers as an alternative, a lateral form of relationality based on the Métis/Cree concept of wâhkôhtowin or expanded kinship, with the purpose of undoing white supremacist settler colonialism.

Chelsea Vowel is Métis from manitow-sâkahikan (Lac Ste. Anne) Alberta, residing in amiskwacîwâskahikan (Edmonton). Mother to six girls, she has a BEd, LLB, and MA. She is a Cree language instructor at the Faculty of Native studies at the University of Alberta. Chelsea is a public intellectual, writer, and educator whose work intersects language, gender, Métis self-determination, and resurgence. She has also been instrumental in the development of the Indigenous-Ukrainian Relationship Building Initiative.

Multiculturalism as/and/or Reconciliation?

Dr. Daniel Meister

This paper seeks to answer the question: ought it be multiculturalism as/and/or reconciliation? It suggests that a study of the history of Canada’s official policy of multiculturalism reveals one clear answer. That is, multiculturalism and its precedents were not designed with Indigenous peoples in mind and as such these cultural policies have always been an insufficient vehicle for addressing Canada’s ongoing processes of settler colonialism. Therefore, it cannot be multiculturalism as reconciliation. The two are not necessarily in opposition, unless Indigenous peoples are wrongly positioned as ‘immigrants too’ or merely one cultural group among many. Although multiculturalism is not essential, and though it has its flaws, it does bring some benefits. However, reconciliation is essential. In sum, it would be best to have multiculturalism and reconciliation.

Daniel R. Meister holds a PhD from Queen’s University and is currently engaged in the long-term research project of writing a critical history of the Canadian federal government’s policy of multiculturalism. His forthcoming book, The Racial Mosaic: A Pre-history of Canadian Multiculturalism (MQUP, Fall 2021), represents the completion of the first stage of this project. It examines the intellectual antecedents of the policy as they developed through the end of the Second World War, and has received advance praise as “the first serious and sustained attempt to historicize multiculturalism.” He is an instructor in the Department of History and Politics at the University of New Brunswick (Saint John).