In 1913, Canada witnessed the highest intake of immigrants ever recorded in the country’s history. 400,000 individuals, European, flooded into the country that year. This historic immigration boom lasted until the outbreak of the Second World War, and the year 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of such boom in Canadian immigration history. For many Canadians who descend from immigrants of that era, this year is one for reminiscence.
According Antonia Maioni, associate professor at McGill University, it is vital for both hyphenated and non-hyphenated Canadians to celebrate these milestones in the country’s history, as they are inherent to the multiculturalism that defines what it really means to be Canadian.
For many European immigrants in 1913, moving to Canada meant never going back to their home country. They preserved their original language, culture, and traditions, while adapting and educating their children with Canadian values in the New World. First generation of immigrants weathered a number of harsh periods in the country’s history, such as the Great Depression.
New immigrants to the country move to Canada for different reasons now than back in 1913. Nonetheless, they all share the somewhat common experience of integrating into the Canadian culture, while preserving fundamental elements of their culture of origin at the same time. As Heritage Canada celebrates the diversity brought about by contemporary immigration, it is easy to forget that even those who think of themselves as solely of Canadian origin would most likely be able to trace their roots back to an immigrant ancestor.
Marking Achievements of the Canadian Historical Recognition Program
On February 18th, Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney celebrated the success of the Canadian Historical Recognition Program with members of the Chinese, Italian, South Asian, Jewish, Ukrainian and other ethnic minority communities. “I am confident that the memorials and the stories shared will not only serve as effective reminders of a difficult time in our history, but also recognize the enormous contributions these communities have made to build Canada,” Minister Kenney remarked.
The Canadian Historical Recognition Program (CHRP) was founded in 2008 as a commitment to recognizing and educating Canadians about the historical injustices faced by immigrants in their new home. Examples of these historical injustices include wartime discriminatory measures against Japanese-Canadians and immigration restrictions applied to Chinese-Canadians throughout the country’s history.
Since its establishment, the CHRP has received $13.5 million in funding, as well as the support for 68 different projects —including the filming of the documentary Lost Years: The Chinese Canadian Struggle for Justice, which received two nominations for the 2013 Canadian Screen Awards.