Immigration, the entrance of people into a country for the purpose of settling there, has always played a central role in Canada’s history. In comparison to many other nations, immigration into Canada has generally been viewed as being much easier than in other countries. Canada as whole seems to be a favorable place for immigrants to gain naturalization. Since Canada is a relatively new country, the goal of Canadian officials for some time was to infuse the land with many different cultures and peoples, and its lenient immigration process played a key role in this.
Thus far, this system has worked as Canada has a very diverse group of ethnicities, including 200 ethnic groups total, of which 34 ethnic groups boast at least one hundred thousand members each. Of those 34 groups, 10 have over 1,000,000 people, or 13.4% of the population. According to the 2001 census, the breakdown was Chinese (3.5% of the population), South Asian (3.1%), Black (2.2%), and Filipino (1.0%).
As one can see, Canada is a truly multicultural nation that cannot truly trace their heritage to just one cultural background, race. Each current crop of Canadians can trace their heritage to someone that wasn’t a true Canadian national. The whole country is built upon immigrants. Thanks to centuries of immigration, Canadians are a very multicultural and diverse group of people. Although the progress was positive for many years, attitudes toward immigration are changing, and restrictions are beginning to be placed on who may enter the country.
Mostly, immigrants also have higher levels of educational attainment than people born in Canada. Yet, in virtually every urban region, a far higher proportion of recent immigrants were employed in jobs with lower skill requirements, than the jobs held by Canadian-born citizens. The level of equality has yet to permeate into everyday society.
Although most immigrants are pleased to be in Canada, most still have difficulties finding adequate jobs, and dealing with the language barrier. The majority of people immigrating into Canada remain positive about their decision to come into Canada, in light of the better standard of living. They are extremely pleased with an increased quality of life, overall peace and happiness, and the opportunity to offer their families a brighter future with more hope for success.
According to Wikipedia, in 2001, there were 250,640 immigrants into Canada. These elevated numbers are the reason that Canada has the highest per capita immigration rate in the world. At no time has immigration played a greater role in Canadian history than during the twentieth century. In fact, without the immigrants who have settled in all areas of the country since the turn of the century, Canada would not be the culturally rich, prosperous, and progressive nation that it is today.
So much so is the lure to gain entry into Canada that people sometimes take extreme measures, even if those measures are against the law. Illegal immigration into Canada is one problem that is deeply affecting this country. So big is the problem that recently, police discovered Chinese immigrants being illegally smuggled into Canada inside shipping crates at a Vancouver, British Columbia port. Such incidents go to highlight the measures and risks that some immigrants are willing to take to get into Canada. There is a growing business of trying to smuggle immigrants into the country, many of which are hoping to gain political asylum. Unfortunately, the fate of most of these illegal immigrants is usually deportation. For most of the illegal immigrants, their only option is to prove to Canadian officials that they should be protected under refugee status, and most illegal immigrants often apply to be granted refugee status when they are captured.
In fact, an estimated 18 million Chinese look to immigrate out of the China, and they will take any risk to achieve this goal. A majority of these illegal immigrants come from China’s eastern coastal province of Fujian and most flock toward Canada and the United States. Once in Canada, many of the illegal Chinese immigrants can disappear into a massive underground network, where they must work to pay off their indentured servitude to the smugglers. This Chinese smuggling system is a $10 billion business.
Each year, approximately 600 illegal Chinese immigrants arrive on Canada’s west coast seeking refugee status through legal channels, after having promised smugglers $60,000 per person to get them into the country.
For illegal immigrants migrating to Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia is a popular destination. Vancouver’s metro area is home to more than two million residents, and the high population makes it very easy for illegal immigrants to blend into the environment unseen and unnoticed.
For legal immigrants, Vancouver is also a popular destination, because several major publications consistently rate Vancouver as one of the three most livable cities in the world.
The huge waves of immigrants that have entered Canada over the last couple centuries have helped the country develop a much more multi-ethnic outlook and a much richer and more vibrant culture. Going forward, it is expected that immigrants will continue to play a vital part in influencing Canada’s social, economic, and political culture.