At the Crossroads of a New Frontier: Youth, Identity, and the Negotiation of Multiple Belongings within Canada's Bilingual Framework

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Katherine MACCORMAC, Western University, Canada
For over forty years, the dominant vision shaping Canada’s official language policies and French as a second language (FSL) programs has remained in a bilingual, bicultural state despite the rapid linguistic and cultural transformation of Canadian society from increased waves of transnational migration. Recently, Byrd Clark (2007, 2008b, 2010) and Mady (2012) have each discovered that the reproduction of this vision is especially problematic for multilingual Canadian FSL students because it limits the possibilities of negotiating multiple forms of belonging by failing to reflect the complex globalised ethnoscapes across which these students negotiate their identities. What remains to be investigated, however, is how the reproduction of this vision specifically affects the identity negotiation experiences of multilingual Canadian youth born abroad and raised in Canada who have chosen to invest in official bilingualism. For this population of Canadian youth, the process of multilingual identity negotiation not only involves negotiating their identities both across and in between their multiple social worlds (i.e. home/ school, home country/host country), but it also requires doing so within a bilingual framework that fails to fully account for the rapidly evolving nature of Canadian society. While applying a critical postmodern narrative approach, this paper adds to the conversation by sharing preliminary findings of the narrative experiences of Canadian multilingual former FSL students negotiating a space for the expression of their identities while investing in official bilingualism. Although focused on the Canadian case, this paper has important implications for the broader international community by demonstrating the heightened need in today’s globalized world to ensure that language policies and educational practices adequately respond to the challenges faced by today’s multilingual youth negotiating their identities and multiple belongings across increasingly complex globalised ethnoscapes.