Reflections on 'Performing' Canadian-ness as a way of 'Passing'


  • Saba Alvi University of Ottawa



This reflective essay explores my family’s intergenerational experiences of belonging and exclusion in and through Canadian spaces. I share how my parents, first generation Canadians, navigated cultural and religious traditions in order to help their children “pass” as Canadians–meaning, performing “norms” of perceived “Canadian-ness” to fit in. For me, the implications of this resulted in tensions around my identity and self-worth. I unpack personal stories of residing within a “third space,” as a second generation Canadian who identifies as and is also visibly identified as, South Asian and Muslim. I close the essay by appealing to Derrida’s concept of “unconditional hospitality” as a pedagogical parenting and teaching tool to inform my own children’s multifaceted identities as Canadians.

Author Biography

Saba Alvi, University of Ottawa

Saba Alvi is a Long-Term Appointment professor at the University of Ottawa where she teaches at the Faculty of Education. Her research interests lie in anti-racism education. She is deeply committed to creating inclusive spaces to engage in courageous conversations with her students around issues of race and privilege.