Language, Culture, and Values in Canada at the Dawn of the 21st Century


358 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-88629-287-5
DDC 306.4'46'0971




Edited by André Lapierre, Patricia Smart, and Pierre Savard
Reviewed by Peter Babiak

Peter Babiak teaches English at the University of British Columbia.


These essays—the result of an International Council for Canadian
Studies colloquium held at Carleton University in 1994—reflect
domestic and international views on five specific issues facing Canada
at the dawn of the new millennium: language, citizenship, globalization,
new cultural values, and First Nations perspectives.

Chapter 1 addresses the distinctly Canadian problem of language.
Stephane Dion offers a philosophical comparison of separatism and
“linguistic insecurity,” and argues that “the fear of English is
at the heart of support for the independence of Quebec.” English
Canada and Quebec are in “the process of nation-building on different
foundations,” writes Jean Laponce. The only solution to this dilemma
is to give provinces “sovereign rights in matters of language, culture
... and the granting of citizenship as well as the integration of

The chapter on citizenship includes a postmodernist analysis by Sherry
Simon, who rejects the definition of culture as “a total universe of
references and behaviours” and instead offers the term
“translational identity” as a way of accounting for the
“in-betweenness” experienced by immigrants and citizens of
border-cultures like Quebec. Though innovative, Simon’s chapter
provides politicians with no suggestions for translating this paradigm
into public policy.

Chapters 3 and 4 address timely questions of globalization and new
cultural values. The essays in the chapter on First Nations raise the
most vexing questions. Georges Sioui’s short paper deserves special
attention for its blend of historical analysis and ecocriticism. One
solution to the problems of the New World—ecological decay,
interracial strife, and youth violence—is for the First Nations to
regain their “spiritual and ideological leadership” of Canada. From
his Amerindian perspective, Sioui sees Canada not as a nation but as a
potential spirit “the world is in need of possessing.”

These essays do much to dispel the hoary myths of culture circulating
in the corridors of political power. Canada is a difficult country to
manage; this book demonstrates that it is even more difficult to


“Language, Culture, and Values in Canada at the Dawn of the 21st Century,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 22, 2024,