Immigration has increasingly become a sensitive topic, as more and more people seek to leave their home countries. Regardless of their reasons for leaving, hosting countries are becoming more divided on this issue.
Canada’s entire history is bound to its ceaseless immigration. Apart from the First Nation and Aboriginal peoples of Canada, every other Canadian has arrived here from a foreign place. In a time where our neighbours to the south are getting negative attention for their ideas, Canada continues to uphold its own immigration policies. We have all heard of the American cultural melting pot, but have we heard of the Canadian cultural salad?
After the colonization of Canada by the French and British, immigration began to happen in waves. The first wave was arguably the slowest and most lengthy period of immigration. Following Canada’s colonization, French and British people trickled into the country, settling on farms and in cities. This wave peaked during the American Revolution, when British loyalists fled from America back into a British colony. The second wave began after the War of 1812, with a large population of Irish farmers left their country during the Irish Potato Famine. The third and fourth wave where respectively linked to the first and second world war, when refugees fled war-torn Europe in search for a peaceful home.
During these past waves of immigration, Canadians adapted their laws to filter out the immigrants they didn’t want in their society. This has been hailed by many, as a grave mistake. For example, in 1885 the Chinese Head Tax was introduced to limit the number of Chinese immigrants to Canada. Then, in 1923, the government completely banned any Chinese person from entering the country. This isn’t the only example of cherry-picking immigrants in Canadian history. During the first and second world war, descendants of the enemy sides were taken into internment camps: labour camps said to protect Canadians from domestic terrorism. Japanese, German, and Austro-Hungarians were some cultures that were taken into custody during these times. However, it has been widely disproven that the camps hindered any threats.
Since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s election in 2015, over 40 000 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada. The Canadian government sponsors each family of refugees from Syria for a full year after they arrive, helping them integrate into the new culture. The government website allows for Canadians to easily volunteer, donate, or both to help this initiative along. What is remarkable about this, is that it creates a community. The Syrian Refugee Crisis is arguably the most debated, politicised, and controversial immigration movement of the modern era. Fear of the unknown permeates each country that agrees to host these families. However, Canadians have realized that the fear is what isolates these families and what is responsible for dividing our country. By allowing Canadians to get involved and welcome our future neighbours, friends, and colleagues. The Canadian empathy is vastly contrasting to the American one, however, Canadians must remember to stay focused and fight for what they believe in. After all, almost all Canadians are immigrants.
- by Luise S.