History of Canadian Immigration

Immigration to Canada refers to the movement of people from other countries to become residents of Canada. Hundreds and thousands of people migrate to this country every year. Immigration has played an essential role in shaping the values and ideals of the Canadian national state. The history of Canadian immigration is worth a serious study.

The beginning of the Second World War introduced a period of severe immigration restriction. Most of the immigrants from 1938 to 1945 were British or American. People who attempted to enter Canada at that time were refugees, and a few were wives and children of Canadian people. Jews faced tighter restrictions when they tried to enter Canada in the 1920s.

During the Battle of Britain in the 1940s, Luftwaffe – the German air force – started bombing British cities, including London. This bombing campaign was one of the major causes of British immigration to Canada.

Chinese settlers migrated to Canada around the1850s. Following the Fraser Valley Gold Rush, they were drawn to the country. These Chinese settlers helped to complete the Canadian Pacific Railway, accepting very low wages. Upon completion of the work, the workers were no longer required. In an attempt to restrict immigration, the Canadian Federal Government passed the Chinese Immigration Act in 1885, by imposing a head tax of $50. Later in 1903, the head tax was increased to $500. In 1923, a Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by the parliament. The Act helped to stop Chinese immigration to Canada. The Chinese Exclusion Act remained in effect up to 1947. After 1947, serious changes in immigration law occurred. The Immigration Act of 1976 is a notable one. As per this act, immigrants were classified into four categories – independent immigrants, family, assisted relatives and refugees. Later in 2002, this was replaced by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

At present, Canada has a very liberal immigration policy. As per the 2001 census, the country has 34 ethnic groups. Out of the total population, 13.4% belonged to visible minorities, including Chinese, Black, Filipino and South Asian. Between 2001 and 2006, Canada experienced a dramatic increase in the population rate. The population grew by around 2.4 million, mainly because of incoming residents.

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