Socials So Far
To start off the social studies semester, we have been looking at Canadian history; specifically, the history of First Nations, Aboriginal, and Métis in Canada. We have discussed a lot of questions so far including: What is cultural genocide? What are the aspects of cultural genocide? How did Canada commit cultural genocide? Why is cultural transmission valued and why is its disruption so bad? What is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission? What is the Mandate of the TRC? Why is reconciliation important? What are the key components of reconciliation? I have learned a lot about Canada’s dark past, its implications, what we are doing now to right wrongs, and about the difference between the values of the Canadian settlers and the values of the Aboriginal peoples. However, at certain times, I have had a hard time connecting on a personal level to the topics we discussed in class. I have a hard time imagining the country that accepted my family and I with open arms 12 years ago, could have committed such atrocities against Canadian Aboriginals. I find it hard to imagine the version of Canada does not have the same emphasis and values around multiculturalism.
When we began to talk about the culture and the values of both settlers and Aboriginals, I began to understand the thought process and emotions behind their actions. Talking about the backgrounds, beliefs, and especially the culture of the two groups helped me humanize them, and relate to them on a personal level. I began to see the settlers and Aboriginals through the lens of their culture; I began to see how the progress of time has changed their cultures in to what we are familiar with now. Culture gave a context for the actions taken and a clue to the emotions and thoughts behind the actions. I soon found it easier to imagine being a settler or Aboriginal at the time.
One specific concept that really helped me connect with Canadian history on a personal level, and learn lessons that I could apply to my own life, was cultural transmission.
“[Cultural transmission] is the process of learning new information through socialization and engagement with those around you. The cultural transmission of knowledge is a broad concept, and it refers to knowledge that is gained through non-biological means; the theoretical basis of cultural transmission is that throughout our development, we acquire a considerable amount of knowledge simply by being present in our culture.” (White, 2011).
Cultural transmission is something that I value a lot, and something that is valued greatly by my family. A large part of cultural genocide is the disruption of cultural transmission, and seeing how important cultural transmission is to me, I could only imagine how bad the results of disrupting cultural transmission are.
Questions, Perspectives, and Goals
For our first blog post, we are supposed to answer a question, I have decided to explore: Why is cultural transmission valued and why is its disruption so bad?
To answer why cultural transmission should be valued and why its disruption is so bad, I will be looking at this question through the lens of development and attachment from a young age. I chose this perspective because it relates the topic directly to me as I am still developing, forming attachments, and learning about my culture. I also chose this lens because my mum always told me that attachment is the basis for all relationships. By understanding attachment, and how it is developed, I can better understand other relationships as well; for example, how the relationship between the Canadian government and the Aboriginal people has developed over time.
Through this blog post, I would like to better understand myself, the people around me, and the people I read about from history. I strive to learn the importance and value of culture to different people as well as how to respect other cultures. I would like to learn the importance of having cultural diversity, and the importance of developing an identity as a person, as a culture, and as a country. However, I think that my biggest goal is to learn to understand the multiplicity of history.
Impact of Healthy Cultural Transmission on a Developing Young Person
A lot of the information that we receive daily is through cultural transmission, even if we may not know it. The reason we understand what is socially acceptable, what social cues mean, body language, and other concepts that vary based on culture is because of cultural transmission. For example, no one told me that I have to tip when I go to a restaurant, but because that is what is expected from this culture, I do so by following the examples of friends and family.
Cultural transmission is important for young people to develop a healthy sense of self, and to become well adjusted. “The self develops within a culture, and the beliefs and practices of the culture are absorbed into the individual’s psychology,” (Baron, 2005). Better understanding the people around us, the world around us, and how it all works can help young people better understand themselves and how they fit into the context of their world.
Cultural transmission can create a safe sense of community for the people who are a part of the culture and can help young people to become more open-minded and accepting of others. “As individuals’ psychology is built [through cultural transmission] their behaviour and thinking allow them to live comfortable within the culture and to communicate more easily with others [from other cultures and their own],” (Baron, 2005). As people become more comfortable within their own culture (and with themselves) they can become more accepting of others and more willing to step out of their comfort zone as they continue to have a safe space within their culture.
Cultural transmission through a strong support system can aid in healthy physical, mental, and emotional development. “Secure attachments with [culture] have been linked to later social and cognitive competence… Children who have positive relationships with [their culture] are more likely to engage in the kinds of interactions that foster the language skills and other competencies required to succeed in school,” (Vasta, 2009).
Cultural transmission passes on traditions from generation to generation; installing the importance of cultural transmission itself. Oral story-telling traditions are very important to Aboriginal culture and this practice passes on the stories of band history to younger generations. The history of bands has been traditionally passed on orally for many years, with many stories still known today.
Impact of Cultural Oppression and Genocide on a Developing Young Person
Cultural oppression can result in isolation, little sense of self, little sense of community, difficulties in social adjustment, mental health issues, addictions, and devalued perceptions of culture. However, the biggest impact is that people may come to struggle with sense of identity and may be ashamed of their own culture (when their culture is perceived as less than by popular culture). The oppression of one generation continues to be passed down for many to come; parents who are cut off from their own culture may have attachment issues, when they raise their own children they pass on the same attachment issues they struggle with indirectly to the child. This can continue on for many generations and is why reconciliation for wronged ancestors is also very important, though it may be overlooked. Self –worth, support systems and the meaning that we give to life is very important, when these concepts are not explored within individuals and cultures, or views are forced onto people, it can lead to severe mental health and addiction issues as a coping method. Though Aboriginal culture experienced genocide, it is still alive today. “Aboriginal, First Nations, and Métis populations had to endure extermination and assimilation efforts and were able to do so because of cultural values and strengths such as spirituality; respect for traditional values and ceremonies; extended family networks; allegiance to the family, community, and tribe; wisdom of the elders’ respect for the environment and the land; connection to the past, adaptability, and the promotion of such themes as belonging, mastery, independence and generosity.” (Myers & Spencer, 2004).
So What? What Now?
Understanding the role of cultural transmission throughout history is important to understanding how cultural influences and biases shape our narratives about history today. Identifying the impacts of cultural transmission helps to put the importance of culture in perspective. Looking at cultural transmission through the lens of development and attachment has helped me better relate to the narrative of Aboriginal oppression in Canada on a more personal level. I think that through this blog post, I have come to appreciate my own Romanian and Canadian culture more as well as have come to realize my Eurocentric (ethnocentric) bias. I have come to have more appreciation for the cultures that have undergone oppression and genocide but were revived and continue to live on today. I have come to learn more about the importance of developing identities as individuals, cultures, and as a country. Through the research I have done for this blog post, I have come to appreciate the multiplicity of history, and can see how patterns easily repeat themselves. This research has challenged me to look at the identity of Canada in a different way. Canadian identity and values have changed a lot over time; today we are known as an inclusive multicultural society, but we were not always that way as I have learned from social studies these past few weeks.
Baron, R. A. (2005) Exploring Social Psychology (4th Edition) Pearson. Toronto, ON
Myers, D. G. & Spencer, S. J. (2004) Social Psychology (2nd Edition) McGraw-Hill Ryerson Toronto, ON
Vasta, R. (2009) Child Psychology (2nd Edition) John Wiley & Sons Mississauga, ON
White, D. (2011). What is Cultural Transmission. Retrieved on 08/02/17 from http://study.com/academy/lesson/cultural-transmission-definition-theory.html