Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religion & Culture / Religious Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Ronald Grimes

Advisor Role

Thesis Committee Member

Second Advisor

Andy Lyons

Advisor Role

Thesis Committee Member

Third Advisor

Mathias Guenther

Advisor Role

Thesis Committee Member


The Ashantis are well known for their strict observance and co-operation during funeral rites. I attempt to answer the following questions: To what extent do the Ashantis who have migrated to Canada still hold on to indigenous concepts and funeral practices? By virtue of their being in two worlds what difficulties come their way if they try to follow indigenous practice to its letter? What innovations have been introduced into their funeral rites? Can a symbol or procedure be radically altered and yet perceived as the same? In a foreign context does ritual retain its unifying function? The method for this study combines library research with participation in, and observation of, Ashanti funeral rites in Toronto. It is essentially an ethnographic description of the funeral rites of Toronto Ashantis set in the context of comparative data from traditional and contemporary Ghana, as well as contemporary, non-Ashanti, Canadian funeral practices. My conclusion is that funeral rites among Ashanti immigrants in Toronto represent a mix of Ashanti and Western cultures. The Ashanti immigrant community in Toronto has undergone tremendous acculturation due to emigration, but they still adhere to modifications of old values. The innovations introduced have not displaced the fundamental belief in ancestors. Ashanti funeral rites in Toronto exhibit a unifying function. The pleasure of the reunion of family and friends eclipses the grief that is felt.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season