Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

National Holidays and Minority Festivals in Canadian Nation-Building

Document type Thesis
Author Zhu, Lianbi
Degree Ph.D., History
Publisher University of Sheffield; Sheffield, UK
Date 2012
Pages 303 pages


This study of Canadian national holidays examines their role as a complex and dynamic instrument of nation-building from 1867 to the early 2000s. It indentifies three phases of nation-building, labelled assimilation, transformation and multiculturalism. It takes the ideological change in Canada in 1971, namely the proclamation of Official Multiculturalism, as the momentous turning point which motivated the pioneering changes and creation of Canadian national holidays based on negotiations in the government and the interventions of varied ethnic groups, focusing on the relationship between the commemorative and recreational functions of these holidays. Specific holidays considered including Dominion Day (Canada Day), Labour Day, Victoria Day and Remembrance Day, as well as National Aboriginal Day, Canadian Multiculturalism Day and one minority festival – Chinese New Year. Counterparts in France and the United Kingdom are presented to contrast with Canadian practices, putting Canada in the global context of nation-building and decolonisation. It argues that debates surrounding national holidays are a good measure of underlying national ideology, which underwent a real change in Canada across the period studied.