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Engaging with Diversity

Multidisciplinary Reflections on Plurality from Quebec

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Edited By Stéphan Gervais, Raffaele Iacovino and Mary-Anne Poutanen

Contributed by leading scholars of Quebec Studies, both emerging and established, the 30 essays of this comprehensive collection offer a multidisciplinary survey of the study of diversity in Quebec over space and time. The volume is organized around a variety of themes through which Quebec’s plural reality is expressed, including conceptual, historical and contemporary approaches, covering a wide range of social and economic cleavages, identity markers, political contestation and, broadly, the lived experiences of Quebecers negotiating difference over time. In an environment increasingly demarcated by conflicts around values and cultural and social practices, this collection hopes to contribute to broadening the spectrum of voices to the current debate, adding an inclusive reflection to a conversation that has only intensified over the last decade. Quebec as a pluri-national and multi-ethnic society has been and remains a great laboratory to study and to test public policies on ethnic diversity. It allows us to identify the tensions and to evaluate the balance between the majority and the minority; and between settler society and indigenous nations, in conceptualizing and finding a normative consensus around the configuration of collective rights. In short, the contributions in this volume seek to illustrate how pluralism has and continues to constitute the lifeblood of belonging in Quebec.

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Métissage, Interethnic Marriages and Identity Debates. The Case of the Indigenous Communities of the St. Lawrence Valley in the Nineteenth Century (Alain Beaulieu)

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Métissage, Interethnic Marriages and Identity Debates

The Case of the Indigenous Communities of the St. Lawrence Valley in the Nineteenth Century

Alain BEAULIEU

Identity was a major issue for the Indigenous communities of the St. Lawrence Valley in the nineteenth century, generating debates that would play a decisive role in the creation of an Indian legal identity, founded on bloodlines. This article focuses on the impact of the intense exchanges between Indigenous people and Euro-Canadians about Indian identity during this pivotal period.

The events we have chosen to study were based in the former North American centre of the French Empire: the St. Lawrence Valley. It was in this region that parcels of land were first designated for settlement by Indigenous communities in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The status of these lands was initially ambiguous, but they were later officially integrated into the British system of Indian reserves. It was also in this region that the first real debates on the subject of criteria for Indianness surfaced (at least on Canadian soil) among Indigenous communities.1

Defining these criteria—who was Indian, who could define Indian identity and how Indianness was passed on—appears to have been irrelevant under the French Regime and during the first decades after the Conquest of New France in 1760.2 However, during the first half of ← 141 | 142 → the nineteenth century these criteria were suddenly of vital concern. In fact,...

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