Minorities have changed the face of Canada today as there is nearly one-fifth of the total population. The treatment of minorities has refined substantially over time periods, starting with inequality, creating a drastic change in society and its way of life. This evolution influenced the Canadian government on human rights later on as people were starting to be accepting rather than rejecting.
The treatment of minorities is significant to Canadian history because at first, Canada denied certain Canadians rights, evolving to evoke the first nationality law to define people as Canadian, and ending with a diverse nation. After Japan attacked Pearl Harbour, a surprise military strike during World War 2, Japanese Canadians was discriminated and were perceived as enemies by the government. These innocent Canadians were denied basic rights and were forced into internment camps, despite majority of them were Canadians by birth. Feelings of anti-Japanese intensifies in Canada and many resented them.
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“…White settlers in British Columbia tried to exclude people whom they considered to be “undesirables.” In so doing, they passed laws to keep Japanese people from working in the mines, to prevent them from voting and to prohibit them from working on any project funded by the province.” Minorities were excluded from their rights and faced injustice during early periods. Although Japanese Canadians posed no threat, they were still mistreated which brought awareness to social justice.
“The Royal Canadian Mounted Police found no evidence of sabotage or military threat, and the chiefs of the Canadian Army and Navy vigorously denied that there was a danger or invasion threat of any importance from the Japanese Canadians. However, a cabal of politicians and lobbyists in British Columbia began campaigning for the removal or confinement of Japanese Canadians in the coastal regions.” This is significant to Canadian history because it shows how these minorities were only confined because of hatred and are now treated equally with the rest of society from pushing the government to enforce complacent policies such as the Citizenship Act. The Citizenship Act of 1947 came into effect to acquire citizenship in Canada regardless of factors including race, culture, and gender. This act was the first nationality law to define people as Canadian and was an important part of Canada’s growing sense of national identity. “Before 1947, both people born in Canada and naturalized immigrants (newcomers who became Canadian) were considered British subjects. The Canadian Citizenship Act came into force on 1 January 1947, and was the first nationality law to define people as Canadian.”This act specified that people weren’t known as British members but a Canadian.
The Citizenship Act was independent; Canadians didn’t have to rely on anyone to receive citizenship. “The 1947 Act recognized women as individuals, allowing them, not the national status of their husbands, to determine their citizenship.” To emphasize, this shows how there was a change in what was to come in the future, a country with equality no matter the person’s circumstances.Multiculturalism was a policy adopted by Pierre Trudeau during the 1970s and was the last step into the development of rights for minorities; society had to embrace them. After many years of mistreatment of minorities, the government finally started to encourage the idea of multiculturalism so Canada would be a united country. “The federal government of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau declared its commitment to the principle of multiculturalism in 1971 and in so doing formalized a policy to protect and promote diversity, recognize the rights of Aboriginal peoples, and support the use of Canada’s two official languages.” Minorities had started becoming a majority in Canada.
“By the late 1960s, previous policies of racial discrimination in the immigration system had been rescinded, and in 1971, for the first time, the majority of new immigrants were of non-European ancestry”. “Multiculturalism was celebrated as a new vision of Canadian identity, which would foster a global understanding of all ethnic communities.” Multiculturalism and diversity in Canada was all very new in the 1970s, however it is now normal being seen everyday by Canadians. These events all played a role in the treatment of minorities.
The treatment of minorities is significant to Canadian history because at first minorities were mistreated although they weren’t a threat. They were unwanted and were deprived of rights such as voting. Later, during the post-war period, the government enacted a law that would induce society’s view on different cultures and religions in the world. This was an important milestone in history as, minorities gaining their full rights which led up to a country diverse and safe for all.