Canada’s image in the world today is an accepting and diverse country where many people seek refuge from violence or simply come hoping for a better life. However, Canada wasn’t always a country that was accepting to people all over the world.
Canada used to exclude many on the basis of where they were from or their race. Now, Canada allows refugees and immigrants who can prove that they will have a positive effect on Canadian economy and society. It wasn’t easy for the Canadian government to shift from exclusion to inclusion. Many steps were taken to diversify the Canadian population and bring in immigrants that could improve the country as a whole. One of the first major steps was abolishing the racist policy of immigration that was already in place and this allowed more people from different places to come to Canada.
Another big step in diversifying the Canadian population was the points system. This system improved the quality of immigrants that came to Canada and also allowed for diversification. A third major step for Canada’s diversity today is the Immigration act of 1976.
There were many laws within this act that allowed for Canada’s population to become more diverse. The laws introduced by the Canadian Government during the 1960’s and 1970’s made Canada’s population more diverse and accepting of immigrants. The first step that Canada took to creating a more diverse population was abolishing the racist policy that kept people from certain regions, countries and religions from entering Canada. It wasn’t an easy process though.
Ellen Fairclough was the first woman to serve in the parliament as a cabinet minister and many of Canada’s immigration laws today exist because of her. On January 19, 1962, Ellen Fairclough introduced new regulations which would essentially eliminate all racism included in Canada’s immigration policy. The rules stated that any unsponsored immigrant with the required education and workplace skills would be suitable for admission. There were also three requirements that all immigrants had to meet in order to be able to be admitted.
” (1) they had a specific job waiting for them in Canada or were able to support themselves until they found employment, (2) they were not criminals or terrorists, and (3) they did not suffer from a disease that endangered public health” . Before these rules were tabled, the number of foreign born Canadians was low and steady at around 85,000 foreign born Canadians in the country in the country at anytime within 1951 and 1961 but after the new regulations were put into effect, the numbers jumped and there were over 220,000 foreign born Canadians by 1971. Before these regulations were in effect, Canada was following the laws that were in the Immigration Act of 1910. There were some acts in between but there weren’t any major changes set to happen in those acts. Although the Act of 1910 did not mention any specific races or countries of origin, it did allow the restriction of “immigrants belonging to any race deemed unsuited to the climate or requirements of Canada”. For example, many potential immigrants of African descent were denied entry into Canada because they were deemed unfit for the cold Canadian climate. Laws like this maintained almost an entire white or western European population.
This was one of the racist policies abolished by Ellen Fairclough. Another racist policy which was abolished around this time was the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923. This law singled out people of Chinese descent and stated that they could not immigrate to Canada solely because of their race. During the period that the act was in effect, “fewer than 50 Chinese immigrants were allowed entry. The population decreased by 25 per cent, from 39,587 in 1921 to 32,528 by 1951”. Lowering the chinese population was one of the Canadian government’s goals at the time and they were successful.
This was the first major step in having a more diverse Canadian population because before the racist policy was abolished, almost all immigrants came from the US or western Europe and after the abolition, the sources of immigrants diversified very quickly. The second big step in diversifying the Canadian population was the introduction of the Points System. The Points System allowed more immigrants from different places to come to Canada and contribute to the economy.
This was the first advancement towards acceptance and diversity in Canadian immigration since since the abolition of the racist policy in 1962. The Canadian government hoped that this new immigrant qualification system would eliminate racism and bring in immigrants that are better for the country at the same time. The points system judged immigrants from a scale from 0 to 100 in which they received points for meeting the standards of “education and training, personal character, occupational demand, occupational skill, age, pre-arranged employment, knowledge of French and English, the presence of a relative in Canada, and employment opportunities in their area of destination”.
These nine categories determined a person’s chances of being accepted to immigrate to Canada and race or country of origin was not a factor anymore. The biggest changes in Canadian ethnic makeup and sources of immigrants were seen in the 1970s. Before 1970, only 9% of immigrants to Canada were visible minorities and 82% of immigrants came from western Europe or the British Isles.
After introduction of the points system, immigration numbers from Asia saw exponential growth. It made up 27% of the total immigrants in that decade and visible minorities now accounted for almost half of the immigrants to Canada. Another benefit of the points system was that it helped nurture the accepting attitude Canadians today have towards immigrants. At the time the Points System was introduced, Canada was in need of professional workers with higher education.
The points system allowed immigrants from different countries to come and show the skills they had to offer to Canada. Before this time period, immigrants were seen as cheap and unskilled labor. They usually took jobs that were too degrading for the majority population of Canada. Now that Canada had a high demand for skilled and educated workers, immigrants from all over the world were able to come to Canada and prove that immigrants from different countries were on an equal level with majority Canadians. The points system enable immigrants to change how they were viewed by society back then and that shaped Canada’s current positive attitude towards immigrants. The points system allowed Canada to become a country of diversity and made Canadians more accepting of immigrants.
The third step the Canadian government took to make Canada a more diverse country was the introduction of the Immigration Act of 1976. The Immigration Act of 1976 was the first immigration act to establish its main objectives. The objectives included were the promotion of Canada’s demographic, economic, social and cultural goals. This was a big step to creating modern Canada as known by the world today.
Immigrant and refugee help programs were started at this time because certain levels of government were now allowed to cooperate with the voluntary sector to help newcomers adapt to their new lives in Canada. Viewed by many as a progressive piece of legislation, the Immigration Act of 1976 started up one of the most famous traits Canada is known for: refugee acceptance. It was the first piece of legislation that “defined refugees as a distinct class of immigrants and impose a mandatory responsibility on the government to plan for the future of immigration”. The main new law for Canada’s remastered refugee policy was that persecuted and displaced people could be admitted on humanitarian grounds.
Before the introduction of this act, a person in the same scenario would have been deported right away. The significance of this act is that it allowed Canada to become the haven for refugees that it is today. Canada used to deport most refugees if they could not prove that they were fleeing direct persecution in their home countries and now Canada is known for its acceptance for people seeking refuge from violence or death. This improved Canada’s international relations because refugees from any country weren’t turned away very often after the initiation of this act and Canada gained worldwide respect for doing this. Canada became more diverse through accepting refugees as the refugees were usually visible minorities and were accepted in huge amounts. Between 2015 and 2017, Canada brought in over 63,000 refugees from the Middle East. Becoming a safe haven for this many refugees opened the minds of Canadian people and this made them much more accepting of minorities.
The number of refugees admitted by Canada itself made the population much more diverse. The Immigration Act of 1976 helped make Canada the accepting and diverse country it is today by the means of refugees. To sum up the how Canada became the diverse and accepting country it is today, it took many steps to get there and government played the biggest role in making Canada what it is today. The first major step was the abolition of the racist immigration policy which gave more people the opportunity to immigrate to Canada.
The second advancement was the Points System which allowed skilled immigrants to prove themselves as equal Canadians and The third major change was the immigration Act of 1976 which allowed Canada to become diverse by bringing in a high amount of refugees. In conclusion, the advancements made by the Canadian government in the 1960s and 1970s allowed the Canadian population to become as diverse and accepting of immigrants as it is today.