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Canada to 1919: Immigration and Racism

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1 Canada to 1919: Immigration and Racism

2 Background ► As part of Prime Minister Macdonald’s National Policy:
he built the CPR he encouraged industrialization in the east settlement of the west ► between 1896 to 1913 the greatest wave of immigration to Canada occurred: 3 million people

3 “Last Best West” Beginning in 1896 Clifford Sifton (minister of the interior in Laurier’s government) launched an aggressive campaign to encourage immigration to Canada.



6 Sifton’s Immigration Policy Continued
Each white European immigrant family was offered 160 acres of free land. Sifton sought immigrants from across the U.S., Britain and Europe – these were most desirable. His efforts attracted large numbers of European farmers including Ukrainians, Scandinavians, Poles, Germans and Dutch Sifton’s policy excluded: Africans, Jews, Asians, East Indians and Southern Europeans. It was thought that they would not make good farmers or be easily assimilated into white, protestant culture Between 1891 and 1911 more than 2 million immigrants came to Canada. In 1905 the growing population led to the creation of 2 new provinces: Saskatchewan and Alberta. By 1911 over 80% of people in the Western provinces had been born outside of Canada.

7 Push and Pull Factors


9 Asian Immigrants Not everyone was welcome
“B.C. must remain a white man’s country!” Canadian Society: Feared outsiders “Ethnocentric” believing one culture is superior to another

10 The response of Canada to Immigration (race related policies)
Many Canadians in the early part of the 20th Century were racist. Canada’s early response to immigration reflects this both in government policy and in the response of Canadian citizens to the immigration of racial minorities. Canada encouraged Chinese immigration because of the construction of the trans-continental railway, and a need for cheap labor. Once the railway was finished the white Canadians felt a need to limit and eventually abolish all Asian immigration to Canada. Racist groups begin to form in Canada, including; the Anti-Asiatic league, which urged the government to end Asian immigration completely

11 Vancouver Riot against Asian immigration (Sept. 7, 1907) Summary
Crowd gathers outside Vancouver’s City Hall, protesting Asian immigration They are concerned that Asian newcomers will take jobs from local residents (thought that Asians would work for less money) and that Asian businesses could soon control the economy Several hundred people start attacking Japanese and Chinese people and businesses Finally, after 4 hours, Japanese-Canadians are able to drive the rioters away In response, the Federal government passes several laws that restrict Asian immigration to BC

12 The Chinese Head Tax ►It was a federal tax imposed on immigrants from China between 1885 and 1923 (Tax that Chinese immigrants had to pay in order to enter Canada) ►$50 head tax in 1885 – at the time of the completion of the CPR ►The tax increased to $500 in 1903, the price of a house at the time or the equivalent of two years' salary for a sawmill or Cannery worker. ►It was replaced on July 1, 1923 by the Exclusion Act, which barred all Chinese immigrants from Canada until As the rest of Canada celebrated “Canada Day” (July 1), for Chinese Canadians, this day was forever known as “Humiliation Day”.



15 Examples of Canadian responses to immigration: The Komagata Maru
After 7 weeks at sea on May 23, 1914,a ship arrived in Vancouver harbour, carrying 376 passengers including women and children. The Sikh passengers wanted to live in Canada, but the ship was quarantined and the government denied them entry. Immigration officials then served passengers deportation papers and ordered the captain to leave. However, the Sikhs onboard (and those living in Canada) refused to listen. A month went and the ship would not leave. Government officials did not allow the steamer to take on food or water; no one was allowed to leave the ship. Finally, after a failed attempt by a tugboat to force the ship from Vancouver, the government called on the Navy to escort the Komagata Maru out of Canadian waters. The message from the government was clear: East Indians were not welcome in Canada, and the government of Canada would do its best to keep them out.


17 Canada’s response to the Holocaust
Canada’s record for accepting Jews fleeing the Holocaust was among the worst in the Western world. As Nazi-inspired hatred spread through Europe, many Jews tried to head to safety in North America. However, Prime Minister MacKenzie King and Immigration Director F.C. Blair kept the number of Jewish refugees small. > Between the years 1933 and 1945, less than 5,000 Jews were accepted into Canada.

18 The SS St Louis In May 1939, 907 Jews left Nazi Germany aboard the SS St. Louis to escape Hitler’s persecution. They had visas allowing them to enter Cuba. But when they arrived in Havana harbour, Cuba denied the refugees entrance. The St. Louis then headed for America, but was turned away and not allowed to enter. Canada was the last hope for the refugees aboard that ship, but the Canadian government refused them permission to dock when they appeared of the east coast of Canada.



21 Immigration director Fred Blair’s infamous quote, “ None is too many”, pretty much sums up Canada’s acceptance of Jewish refugees during WWII. The ship was forced to return to Europe, where many of the passengers later died in concentration camps.

22 Immigration in Canada from 1946-on

23 Immigration after WW2 Displaced Persons – Impact on Canada (p.62 in Counterpoints) Millions of refugees had no homes after the war – no homes, possessions, or hope for the future UN called these refugees displaced persons (DPs) – people forced from their homelands due to the war included concentration camp survivors and others uprooted by war 165,000 immigrated to Canada

24 Displaced Persons – cont’
Challenges for Displaced Persons (DPs) could not speak English unable to practice their former trades and professions Positives Children often absorbed English quickly at school often any job opened up new opportunities

25 Immigration Act of 1952 The immigration Act passed in 1952 allowed Cabinet to control immigration through ***Orders-in-council, so they could admit, limit or prohibit immigration for almost any reason they wanted. This led to a significant amount of racial discrimination regarding new immigrants to Canada. ***Order-in-Council is an order signed by the Governor General (or Lieutenant-Governor) on the advice of the prime minister (or premier) and Cabinet  They allow laws and regulations to be passed without a parliamentary vote.  They are used for necessary changes in law, and in the case of emergencies.

26 Immigration – Changing Policy
Public opinion regarding race was soon changing in the mid-50’s and 1960’s and portions of Canada’s population began to protest the discriminatory nature of Canada’s immigration policies. The idea that Canada should be a “cultural mosaic” began to gain popularity. By the mid-late 1950s – demand for immigrant labour was so high that Canada’s doors swung wide open to accept new immigrants (“Brawn over brains”) Between million other immigrants moved to Canada often - exhausted by war, looking for a new life most immigrants settled in cities of central Canada (as opposed to immigrants after WWI who settled on farms in Western Canada) cultures, viewpoints, hard work enriched Canada in many ways older areas of cities – vacated as veterans & families moved to the suburbs

27 1960’s More open attitude towards people of other cultures and countries In 1962, new regulations removed most limits on immigrants of Asian, African and other origins 1967: “colour-blind” policy - immigrants were to be chosen by points system based on education and employment prospects. National and racial origins were no longer factors.

28 The Immigration Act removed the racial discrimination found in previous legislation introduced a ‘points’ system’ for rating applicants – a system still in use today. (“colour-blind”) gave preference to immigrants who, among other things: knew English or French were not too old/too young to take regular jobs had arranged employment in Canada had a relative or family member in Canada had proper education and training were immigrating to a region of high employment

29 The Points System Education: Generally one point for each year of primary and secondary education successfully completed Vocational training: Points for vocational or on-the-job training. Experience : Points for relevant job experience Occupational demand: Points based on the need in Canada for the type of work the applicant is qualified and willing to do Arranged employment: Points if the applicant has arranged a job, as long as this employment does not take a job away from Canadian workers Location: Points if the immigrant is willing to move to an area where his or her particular skills are needed

30 Multiculturalism With changes to immigration policy came changes to the composition of Canadian society: 1971 – Trudeau adopted a policy of multiculturalism - claimed it would give “vitality” to Canadian society encouraged ethnic groups to express their cultures and values – making “a richer life for us all” Promotion of Multiculturalism Helped schools set up new courses Promoted multicultural events Set up a council to study issues Multiculturalism became law with the Multicultural Act of 1988

31 Progress in 1970’s (1978): 3 categories of immigrants created:
Reduced barriers to immigration Trudeau implemented the Citizenship Act of 1976, which: Eliminated gender discrimination Granted citizenship to children of overseas marriages when mother Canadian (previously only if father Canadian) Required adequate knowledge of one of 2 official languages before could become a citizen (1978): 3 categories of immigrants created: Family (relatives sponsor) Refugees independents

32 Progress in 1980’s More allowances for refugees fleeing from homelands
During 1980’s immigrants with money and business skills were encouraged to come and create jobs through investments In 1980’s Canada was becoming more and more multicultural increase in immigration from Asian countries

33 Immigration in 1990s Some troubles…
By 1999 – more than half of all Canadian immigrants from Asia and Pacific Region Immigrant poverty – in 2001 – 35% of immigrants lived below the poverty line Other difficulties: Mulroney made an error by increasing the immigration rate in the middle of a recession (economic downturn) Usually – immigration increased when business cycle at its peak and decreased during recessions Immigrants often forced into poor economic situations that lasted longer than recession Also – difficulty in having foreign credentials and education recognized in Canada – eg. Cab drivers with a PhD

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