Chamberlin: “Different Ways” Leading To The Idea Of Complete Denial of Others

Assignment 1.3–– This weeks question:

Figuring out this place called home is a problem (87).  Why? Why is it so problematic to figure out this place we call home: Canada? Consider this question in context with Chamberlin’s discussion on imagination and reality; belief and truth (use the index).Chamberlin says, “the sad fact is, the history of settlement around the world is the history of displacing other people from their lands, of discounting their livelihoods and destroying their languages” (78).  Chamberlin goes on to “put this differently” (Para. 3). Explain that “different way” of looking at this, and discuss what you think of the differences and possible consequences of these “two ways” of understanding the history of settlement in Canada.


Chamberlin discusses many different perspectives of looking at the history of settlement in Canada. The “different way” of looking at how displacing people from their lands, “of discounting their livelihoods and destroying languages” is that they are also “dismissing a different belief or different behaviour as unbelief or misbehaviour, and of discrediting those who believe or behave differently as infidels or savages” (78). This reminds me of the sociological concept of the “other” and of the fear or apprehension associated with the unknown, the unfamiliar, the strange. By taking away or dismissing the Aboriginals’ belief and behaviour, the settlers have effectively eradicated their identity (because that is what defines people, of who they are: their behaviour, their beliefs), writing off complex history and culture by slapping “laws” and “treaties” across their faces.

The two ways of understanding the history of settlement in Canada, then, following Chamberlin’s description, has more to do with the complete disconnection of every aspect between people and place. The eviction of Aboriginals from their homes not only took their land, or as W. E. H. Stanner puts it, their “hearth, home, the source and locus of life, and everlastingness of spirit”, but also their identity and their very existence as a society and community. Not only does it remove them from their land, but it also labels them as being “wrong” or “unnatural” because of their different beliefs and behaviours. This kind of unsettlement of the Aboriginals truly marks them as “homeless”, as they are forcibly removed physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally from their homes. They are, in a manner of speaking both literally and figuratively, denied the essence of their being. And yet, the idea of home still has lingering remains in their language, their stories, and their songs.

Chamberlin says on page 81 that “[a]boriginal people around the world… have turned back to their own languages and literatures to find ways of recovering the idea of home, and to tell their tales”, that “they feel like strangers in the languages they now speak, in the livelihoods they have been forced to take up, in the literatures they are given to read”. Here is an example of the idea of home: it holds no physical place, no belonging but only that through language and histories of ancestors and past generations. While taking a music class in high school, we studied Inuit throat singing as part of our curriculum, and the idea of the Aboriginals returning to their languages and traditions reminded me of the revival and raising awareness of this type of entertainment between women when men are out hunting. Throat singing is a part of the Inuit identity, and the interest of a younger generation in the art is a step towards them rediscovering the “differences” in behaviours and beliefs which were denied by others centuries ago, knowing that that difference is what makes them feel at home.


Works Cited

Chamberlin, J. Edward. If This is Your Land, Where are Your Stories?. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2003. Print. 22 Jan. 2016.

Griffith, Sian. “Keeping Inuit Throat Singing Alive in Canada | All Media Content | DW.COM | 18.03.2015.” DW.COM. 18 Mar. 2015. Web. 22 Jan. 2016.
Zuleyka, Zevallos. “What Is Otherness?” The Other Sociologist. 14 Oct. 2011. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.