Wednesday, October 5, 2016

WS3330F Blog Post #3: Joelle Kabisoso - Strangers at Our Gates

Joëlle Kabisoso
Dr. Taylor
Women’s Studies 3330F
October 5th, 2016
Strangers at Our Gates
Immigration and Immigration Policy 

For most of its history, early immigration policies were rooted in overt discriminatory and restrictive practices despite the Canadian government’s attempt at creating an “open-door” approach to immigration. With the First Immigration Act being passed in 1869, the only restriction prohibited the entry of criminals. That being said, the policy was further amended to exclude paupers and destitute immigrants, with the latter excluding Chinese (The Head Tax Act of 1885), Blacks, Japanese and any other non-English or British foreigners. 

In a race to attract and encourage settlement in the prairies, legislations such as the Dominion Lands Act and “3,000 Families Scheme” were introduced. These acts provided settlers with incentives such as free acres of land, guaranteed financial assistance from the British government and the promise of financing farms from the Canadian government. However, it is important to note, that these measures were only intended to attract settlers 21 years and older, British families, farmers, agricultural laborers, female domestics from Great Britain, United States and Northern Europe and “men of good muscle who [were] willing to hustle.”

Throughout this reading, I found it quite unbelievable the measures governing bodies took to exclude or discourage the entry of prospective immigrants into Canada. For example, under Frank Olivier’s leadership, the cancellation of the North Atlantic Trading Company contract saw a decrease in number of newcomers due to a change of system that would no longer provide bonuses for European agriculturalists immigrating to Canada. Olivier’s efforts to bar the entry of undesirable immigrants, led to the movement of re-encouraging British immigration through propaganda and advertising.

Additionally, under the Macdonald government, the introduction of the Transcontinental Railway equally presented problems for the country and the status of immigration. This initiative was intended to bring settlers from the West to the East and aid in economic growth, but only resulted in Macdonald taking extreme measures to extinguish the aboriginal title of the land, the displacement of indigenous people into reserves and the introduction of the Dominion Lands Act. This program was financed through the government, and despite great efforts, Canada saw very few settlement from western settlers.  * Link to Heritage Moment showing the Macdonald government in favor of the Transcontinental Railway. 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vBGNEJpznNE  

With ever changing social attitudes and views on immigration, it is important to understand the impact a true “open-door” policy has on the state of our country. Immigration policies following the Second World War still manifested discriminatory practices and beliefs, such as the Immigration Act of 1952 and the Points System; however, it made way for a shift in policies. Contemporary Canadian immigration policies began to surface in the 1970s, resulting in the 1975 Green Paper Act, which was the first truly “open-door” and inclusive legislation that welcomed diverse ethnic groups into Canada, emphasizing the importance immigration has on our economic growth and our move towards a more “desirable society.” From here on, immigration legislations began to broaden and improve, and under a new framework Parliament introduced new governing acts such as Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Department of Citizenship and Immigration Act, and the Citizenship Act in hopes of the process of immigration.


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