Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Laughing to be Citizens
This study will focus on how immigrants from Sub Saharan African (SSA) countries use humour as a tool for integration and belonging (and ultimately citizenship) in Canada. My aim is to investigate, through a detailed analysis of popular culture productions from immigrant communities, the strategies and techniques of humour that immigrants employ as a mode of communication with fellow immigrants, their immediate host community and the governmental authorities of Canada. I am particularly interested in how African immigrants use their oral background and cultural memory in the production of jokes and other humour products as a way of interacting, first with fellow immigrants as the primary audience and recipients of the humour and, second, with Canadian society at large. Using the ‘Signifying’ theory of Henry Louis Gates (1988) and Mikhail Bakhtin’s (1968) concept of the “Carnivalesque” as the theoretical framework for this study, I argue that immigrants from SSA countries are using humour to question hegemonic regulations that portrays them as victims, while providing alternative narratives of themselves as subjects with human agency. I further postulate that immigrants are taking advantage of the policy of multiculturalism that exists in Canada in a positive manner as an enabler for their humour. In turn, they are using the humour produced to communicate and break down social barriers, while building bridges across communities and social strata. I bolster my arguments with a consideration of humour in three genres of popular culture – literature, standup comedy and film – to show how immigrants rely on their home culture to produce humour in an effort to find belonging in Canada as contributors rather than victims. This thesis is the first work to examine SSA humour, produced by immigrants from these countries, in the context of their immigration and integration into Canada, and the first to present extended literary criticism of the works of immigrant writers, Tololwa Mollel, Yabome Gilpin-Jackson and Segun Akinlolu. This is also the first study on the comedy of Arthur Simeon, originally from Uganda and the film of Phina Brooks, originally from Nigeria. My analysis apprehends the immigrant voice in the writings and productions of these artists and places their works in conversation with Canadian literary/cultural criticism. Until now, there has been no study of the function of humour produced by African immigrants in Canada. It is my hope that this study will not only fill that gap, but also lay the groundwork for future study in this field that I believe holds a lot of socio-cultural promise, especially in the area of cohesive habitation amongst different ethnic groups. This study aims to contribute to conversations on immigration and its impact on Canadian society as part of nation-building and national consciousness. Author Keywords: African Stand up Comedy, Humour, Immigration, Multiculturalism, Popular Culture, Postcolonialism
Indigenous Knowledge in Contemporary Public Education
This study provides important perspectives and guidance for educators in Ontario to assist in integrating Indigenous content into public education programs – both in schools and other community educational settings. It explores how Indigenous worldviews provide unique insights for holistic education and learning how to live sustainably in place. The study also focuses on approaches to education, comparing Eurocentric and Indigenous philosophies and pedagogies, as indicators of differing value systems. Through a combination of literature review and personal interviews with eleven influential Indigenous and non-Indigenous educators in the Peterborough area, the study explores the potential for Indigenous perspectives to enhance the wellbeing and personal learning journey of all students, regardless of their backgrounds. The research concludes with recommendations for educators on how to begin integrating Indigenous Knowledge throughout programming in appropriate, respectful ways that celebrate diversity, develop positive relationships and build healthier, more sustainable communities. Author Keywords: Education, Environment, Indigenous Knowledge, Pedagogy, Reconciliation, Worldviews
“It's like getting a new car without the manual”
This study explored teacher infusion of Indigenous curriculum content through interviews with ten non-Indigenous teachers of social studies and history. The interviews centered on teacher perceptions of preparedness to implement Ontario’s recent TRC curriculum revisions, which include more about the contributions, histories, cultures, and perspectives of Indigenous peoples. A brief analysis of Ontario’s First Nation, Métis, and Inuit Education Policy Framework is included, alongside critiques of the Eurocentrism at the heart of education systems. The interviews revealed that many of the teachers were committed to Indigenous education and learning more, but they felt unprepared and lacked resources to teach Indigenous curriculum content with confidence. This study highlighted the critical role of settler teachers in Indigenous education and the importance of teachers undertaking settler unsettling in order to be effective and appropriate in Indigenous curriculum delivery. Individual changes must occur alongside educational system decolonization with a particular focus on teacher preparation. Author Keywords: cognitive imperialism, Indigenous Education, Ontario, settler educator, settler unsettling, TRC curriculum
Hoop Dance Project
This dissertation explores a 2017 elementary school Hoop Dance project that was organized by a white music teacher, and taught by an Indigenous artist in Peterborough, Ontario. It aims to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, numbers 10 and 63, which ask the federal government to sufficiently fund legislation that incorporates the following principles: “… developing culturally appropriate curricula” (p. 2), and “building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect” (p. 7). The dissertation asks the question: In what ways will a seven-week Indigenous Hoop Dance Unit, taught by an Indigenous performing artist and facilitated by a white school teacher, contribute to reconciliation in an elementary school classroom in Ontario? I am the teacher in this study and have worked at this elementary school for five years. Throughout the project, I acted as facilitator, participant, and researcher, while Indigenous dancer and instructor Beany John planned and delivered the Hoop Dance content. Theoretically, the dissertation is organized around the Anishinabek seven grandmother/grandfather teachings, as taught by Ojibwe/Odawa educator and author Pamela Toulouse (2011). I believe that these seven traditional teachings are a meaningful basis upon which to build the project, not only because they inform Indigenous knowledge in the arts, but also because frequent reflection and referral to the teachings help remind me to remain connected to the “higher” purpose of the research throughout the project, which is to further the reconciliation process in Canada, and more broadly, to benefit society. Regarding methodology, I use arts based research (Leavy, 2015) and a constructivist grounded theory analysis, which embraces the subjectivity and positionality of the researcher (Creswell, 2012). The overall conclusion of the dissertation is that although the Hoop Dance project did not significantly address issues of Indigenous sovereignty in education nor our shared inherited legacy of colonial harm, it was a constructive step in the reconciliation project, largely due to the contributions of Beany John, whose teaching gently unsettled conventional educational practice at our school. Author Keywords: Arts Education, Hoop Dance, Indigenous Education, Indigenous Peoples, Settler Colonialism, Truth and Reconciliation

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