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Banner: Moving Here, Staying Here. The Canadian Immigrant Experience

The Documentary TrailTraces of the PastFind an Immigrant
Free From Local Prejudice
A National Open-Door Policy
Filling the Promised Land
A Preferred Policy
A Depressing Period

No Right of Passage

by Terry Watada, writer, literature professor, historian

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Canadians of European descent saw the "Oriental" (especially the Chinese, and to a lesser extent South Asians) as a commodity, a source of cheap labour. Asian immigrants built the Canadian Pacific Railroad, cleared and farmed difficult land and helped to establish the lumber, fishing and mining industries of British Columbia. Yet, after they had completed this work, and were attempting to settle in Canada, they found themselves pronounced inferior and undesirable by the country's establishment. From speeches by politicians to editorials in daily newspapers, it was clear that Asians were not welcome in a land populated by European Canadians. From 1906 to 1920, Canada moved to exclude immigration from Asia.

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