How it Seams: Religious Dress, Multiculturalism, and Identity Performance in Canadian Society, 1910-2017

by Laura Morlock


This study uses three case studies of minorities and religious headcoverings in Canada over the course of a century to understand how dress functions as a means of communication within and between religious minority communities and the larger Canadian society. The first is the debate over Swiss Mennonite women’s headcoverings in Ontario during and immediately after World War I. The second is Baltej Singh Dhillon’s experiences as Canada’s first turban-wearing Sikh RCMP officer in 1989-90. The third is Zunera Ishaq’s Supreme Court case to wear her Muslim niqab during a citizenship ceremony and its effects on the federal election of 2015. These case studies provide examples of potential outcomes for these groups.

This dissertation considers the discursive interactions of clothes, colonialism, human rights, and religion, bringing together a diverse collection of theories and methods from several disciplines, demonstrating that those who “cling” to these parochial ways are far from incompatible with Canadian ideals.

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