History Inquiry ProjectThe Role of MinoritiesHow did the various minority groups change Canada forever? Canada’s diverse minority groups played an influential role in the development of the country. Through immigration and internal migration, Canada has become a multicultural country of various nationalities, religions, and cultures. The Indigenous Peoples, the African-Americans/Canadians, and the Chinese who (amongst other races) suffered from discrimination and prejudice throughout the major events preceding to/following Confederation.
The Indigenous Peoples faced discriminatory obstacles throughout Canadian history. Residential schools affected a vast population of the Indigenous Peoples. The objective of these schools was to support and assimilate the Indigenous children by forcing them to adopt the English language, Canadian traditions, religion (Christianity) and a European-based education (e.g. reading, arithmetic).
The government funded 78 schools which were run by the church. Residential schools implemented violent punishment to force the children to abandon their traditional practices (e.g. language, religion). The Aboriginal Peoples, the Metis, and the Inuit children were taken from their reserves and their families and allegedly encountered emotional and physical abuse (including sexual abuse). In total, 150 000 children of Indigenous heritage attended the residential schools, which were run by the Department of Indian Affairs from 1969 onwards. The children also suffered from diseases such as tuberculosis and influenza due to several factors including malnourishment and small, enclosed spaces.
In 2005, the government funded a 1.9 billion dollar compensation for the abuse survivors that attended the residential schools. Following the government’s action, the churches involved with running the schools also provided compensation. Apologies from the former PM, Stephen Harper and current PM, Justin Trudeau have been given on behalf of the federal government. The residential schools changed Canada due to the effect it held on the Indigenous population.
In Canada’s present day, leaders within the Indigenous community represent the thousands who experienced discrimination or abuse. The government is beginning to acknowledge its misconduct with regards to the residential schools and the Indigenous children who attended them.African-Americans/Canadians experienced inequality through slavery and racial discrimination prior to and after Confederation. Within Canada, the Blacks were used for cheap labour until 1833 when a law was passed banning slavery. Due to the law, Blacks endured fewer legal barriers but still experienced social prejudice within Canadian communities. From 1763-1865, Blacks immigrated to Canada in search of freedom from enslavement. They were able to travel to Canada due to the Underground Railroad. The Underground Railroad was a private network of people who aided the African-Americans in fleeing America to escape slavery.
This network was sustained by abolitionists who were committed to human rights and equality. When the Blacks reached upper Canada, they were considered free. By the 1860s, forty-thousand free Blacks lived in Canada. However, African-Americans/Canadians faced racial discrimination through employment, residency and segregated schools. Canadians also believed that the Blacks posed an economic threat.
The African-Americans/Canadians changed Canada because they established various institutions, political groups, and organizations promoting education, multiculturalism, and discrimination, proving their importance to the development of Canada’s economy. Furthermore, the African-Americans/Canadians also fought racial discrimination and social prejudice through protests and demonstrations.The Chinese encountered racial discrimination during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railroad and the events following the Exclusion Act. The Chinese began to immigrate to North America due to the prospect of wealth. Eventually, the men emigrated to British Columbia to build the Canadian Pacific Railroad. During the 1880s, fifteen-thousand Chinese labourers earned $1 per day, while working in horrible conditions and given the most dangerous tasks – explosives. There were over 600 accounted deaths (Chinese labourers).
Beginning in 1885, the Chinese were required to pay an entry/head tax of $50 to enter Canada. By the turn of the century, the Chinese had to pay $100, which eventually rose to $500 in 1903. After the construction of the railroad was finished, the Chinese developed communities across the nation. These small communities were safer places for them to embrace the culture and traditions of their homeland. They worked within the service industry as cooks, laundrymen, grocers, and shopkeepers. The Chinese bachelors would seek careers overseas, then send the earned money back to their family in China.
However, the Chinese were blamed for the lack of careers, decreased wage and lowered living standards, which caused Canadians to believe that they imposed a threat to “caucasian society.” The Chinese also faced many restrictions that denied them the right to vote or enter public facilities and to practice law or careers in education. The Chinese Immigration Act was enacted on July 1, 1923, which prevented the growth of Chinese communities. The act was later repealed in 1947, however, there was still Anti-Asian sentiment until 1967. The Chinese changed Canada because they helped to build the western section of the railroad when British Columbia joined Confederation.
They assisted in the process of uniting the colonies of Canada. The Chinese also fought against the Exclusion Act of 1923, which has provoked modern-day controversy and more importantly, the redress issue in which the Chinese are asking for compensation.The immigration of various minority groups, throughout Canadian history, has progressed and developed the country and economy.
Looking at the big picture, the Role of the Minorities as a whole has changed Canada immensely. Each group has introduced a new race, culture, tradition, and religion that contributed to the diversity and acceptance of minorities in the modern day. Furthermore, the minority groups changed Canada because the actions of the past have resulted in repercussions against the current Canadian government. These consequences result in compensation, apologies, and more importantly, explanations for the situations that occurred. In conclusion, the diverse minority groups have and will continue to impact the advancement of Canada as a country.