Unsettling Claims of Belonging:

Deconstructing Canada through Four Generations of Stories on Turtle Island


  • Jennifer Matsunaga University of Ottawa




Starting from the premise that we have to know where we have been to know where we are going, this piece looks heavily to the past and considers the effects of differently experienced belonging in Canada across generations. This autobiographical reflection questions how we might read migrant-settler narratives of belonging alongside Indigenous struggles for sovereignty in such a way that desires for belonging do not displace or erase such struggles but rather support them. Reflecting on my experiences of belonging and shame as a Japanese Canadian of mixed Japanese and British ancestry, the article seeks to deconstruct and disrupt settler-migrant stories by examining citizenship and belonging from these different perspectives.

Author Biography

Jennifer Matsunaga, University of Ottawa

Jennifer Matsunaga is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Ottawa, unceded Algonquin territory. Her interdisciplinary research examines the impact of and reparations for historical injustices in the context of settler states. Dr. Matsunaga reflects on themes of truth telling, historical trauma, shame, formal apologies, symbolic compensation, assimilation and colonization. As a Japanese Canadian the stories of her family's and community's internment and redress motivate much of her writing, research and community work.