What I’m wondering about
While we learned about confederation we talked about some of the minorities in the country, such as the French and the Aboriginal people. We learned and discussed the way these groups were represented and the way they were seen by the government. We ended up learning about the way that confederation affected these groups during and after. I am interested in looking into a less prominent and less seen minority. I was thinking about minorities on a global scale, since I am interested in comparing different countries and looking at things on global scales. Imagination involves many different countries even when just talking about Canada. As well, immigrants are part of minorities all over the world.
I would like to focus on what it might have been like for immigrants coming to Canada during and after the time of confederation. I want to know the why to these questions as well as the what.
- Who was immigrating to Canada from where?
- How did that change overtime? (before and after confederation)
- Why did that change overtime?
- How does that change reflect on Canada?
What I found
My first source is Multiculturalism and Immigration in Canada a compilation of reports and articles about how Canada become multicultural and what immigration has to do with that. I used the very first chapter on the historical background. It is part of book released bu the Report of Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism.
“Although the French and British have been predominant both in their number and in their cultural influence, the population of what is now Canada has always been ethnically diverse.”
The report is discussing immigration before 1901. It continues to talk about notable figures who were Jewish and polish immigrants to Canada.
To me the stats clearly show that Canada wasn’t ethnically diverse, since almost all the immigrants coming to Canada came from Europe. Perhaps, at the time having someone polish in Canadian parliament and letting Dutch soldiers immigrate to Canada was progressive but not ethnically diverse. Canada didn’t seem to be ethnically diverse during the specific time of confederation, especially compared to the Canada we live in today. I don’t think that Canada has always been ethnically diverse, but over time it has become much more diverse.
My second source is 150 Years of Immigration in Canada which is from the official website government website for Canadian statistics.
“During the first few censuses after Confederation, the British Isles were the main source of immigration, accounting for 83.6% of the foreign-born population in the 1871 Census, or close to half a million people.”
The website shows the source countries of the immigrants. It talks about how immigration started mostly being from the British Isles and expanded into more and more European countries. Here is how the website described the “mega trend”, also notice they used “has long been” instead of “always”.
“Canada has long been, and continues to be, a land of immigration. Since Confederation in 1867, more than 17 million immigrants have come to Canada.”
What does it all mean
While researching I had a bit of trouble finding things about immigration in the time period of confederation and I soon discovered that this was because there wasn’t a lot at the time. I did end up finding interesting stats about where and when immigrants came to Canada. It was interesting to see the way that immigration to Canada started off as just from Europe and was at small percents like 8% and now Canada has become a much more multicultural ethnically diverse place. Some many choose to say that Canada has always been diverse but that seems like denying something and painting a perfect picture of our past. There must have been a reason that people only came from Europe during confederation, so it couldn’t have always been a perfect multicultural country.
I discovered some interesting things about why the immigration that happened did. I found out that in 1896 a minister was in charge of the immigration policy for Canada. I also noticed that a lot of the immigration especially from The British Isles was gathering of groups involved in politics, such as the loyalists.
Overall, there is a few things I needed to keep in mind. One was that the stats in the charts were not accurately reflective of who was living in Canada because many people would pass through to the United States or other places. The other thing was that the Europeans who immigrated to Canada were a minority in Canada at the time. Even if they were European or chose to come to Canada for politics, I still don’t know how they were seen or treated. Overall the main theme I noticed was that immigration started going up slowly after confederation and has led us all the way to today.
Immigrants are a huge part of our country now, so it is important that we know were we came from and how we got to were we are today. Immigration has also been a popular topic in the news lately. I think most of the time we can be proud of the way our country has dealt with some recent situations. It is important for us to know about the history of immigration so we can better understand our now inclusive, diverse and multicultural country.
What I still want to know
I have a better understanding of immigration during the confederation time period and I’m aware of the ethnic diversity we have now, but how we got from there to here is still a little bit fuzzy. I want to know more about the way the government and others viewed the minorities, such as immigrants, during confederation but it is really hard to find facts about that. I would also like to know more about the why behind all of these things.
Cameron, Elspeth. “The Historical Background.” Multiculturalism and Immigration in Canada: An Introductory Reader. Toronto: Canadian Scholars’, 2008. N. pag. Print.
Canada, Government Of Canada Statistics. “150 Years of Immigration in Canada.”Government of Canada, Statistics Canada. N.p., 03 Mar. 2017. Web. 05 Apr. 2017. <http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-630-x/11-630-x2016006-eng.htm>.