Understanding the acculturation experience of First Nations workers in Northwestern Ontario's urban workforce
Ruberry, Leanne F.
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I was raised in Thunder Bay, a city in Ontario, on the northwest shore of Lake Superior. During university I studied in Sweden for one year in a university with 150 other exchange students from over 21 countries. Living in a foreign culture involved some expected challenges such as learning to read a new language, and many unexpected challenges, such as the time that I went to a phone store to buy a cell phone, and was surprised that no salespeople would speak to me. In my Canadian culture, salespeople in electronics stores often approach customers, or will offer their assistance when approached, and it took me a while to realize that this store was built on a different model. After much frustration, I deduced that to speak to a sales associate, I would have to take a ticket from a machine by the door, and wait until my number was signalled on a light-up board. Another time, in a grocery store when shopping with two German friends, one of the girls picked up a roll of garbage bags which she was planning on using to carry her groceries. When I asked why she was buying garbage bags when there were free grocery bags at the cash register, I found out that I’d been stealing grocery bags all year. My year in Sweden afforded me the opportunity to experience acculturation (not to be confused with assimilation), a process of adjustment and coping within a different cultural context, and to observe the acculturation of my fellow exchange students (Berry, Kim, Minde & Mok, 1987). Without knowing any of the specific terminology or theories, I was fascinated with the different ways that other students functioned, from their food choices, to their selection of friends, social activities, and participation in sports and recreation. Some people lived in a foreign country as if they were still at home, surrounding themselves with friends from their own cultures and eating their traditional food, while others did the opposite, immersing themselves in the new culture, making friends with Swedish people, and there were also some who lived in isolation from all cultural groups, and others who ended up with a lifestyle that was a mix of cultures.