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Anti asian sentiment in early 20th century

Last Edited March 4, 2015 Prejudice refers to an unsubstantiated, negative pre-judgment of individuals or groups, usually because of ethnicity, religion or race.

Prejudice and Discrimination in Canada

Discrimination is the exclusion of individuals or groups from full participation in society because of prejudice. In 1914 the arrival of the Komagata Maru in Vancouver with East Indian immigrants touched off violent demonstrations in Vancouver. As a result they were refused entry courtesy Vancouver Public Library.

Prejudice refers to an unsubstantiated, negative pre-judgment of individuals or groups, usually because of ethnicityreligion or race see Racism. Despite Canada's long history of prejudice and discrimination, efforts have been made in recent generations to make the country a mosaic of peoples and cultures. Equality is constitutionally protected today by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Early Settlement Prejudice in Canada dates back to the beginnings of its settlement. It can be seen in the relations between Indigenous peoples and European colonizers that arose in the 17th and 18th centuries see Slavery of Indigenous People in Canada. The European view of Indigenous peoples was complex and ambivalent, ranging from seeing them as "noble savages" to considering them soulless barbarians. While there were significant differences in Indigenous-French and British-Indigenous relations in pre- Confederation Canada, in both cases the economic interests of the fur trade helped to cement a tolerable working relationship between the colonizers and Indigenous peoples see Indigenous Peoples: Large-scale settlement, however, led to deterioration in relations as Indigenous peoples became perceived as an impediment rather than an aid to economic development.

As a result of early European settlement and the subsequent British Conquest in 1759-60, as well as the geographical isolation of Indigenous populations, Indigenous-European relations gradually became less important than the relations between the colonizing powers.

The economic, political, social and religious co-operation and rivalries between British and French settlers shaped much of Canada's development from the 1750s to the present.

Prejudice and discrimination existed on both sides. Because the two groups shared a technologically-based Western culture, the nature of their relationship and the kinds of prejudice and discrimination that characterized it were considerably different from those that characterized Indigenous-settler relations. Influx of Immigrants The number of people in Canada other than those of British, French or Indigenous origin remained small until the end of the 19th century, when large waves of immigrants arrived, settling primarily in the West.

Most English-speaking Canadians saw this non-British and non-French immigration primarily as a anti asian sentiment in early 20th century of speeding Canada's economic development. Others, however, worried about the social and economic impact of non-British immigration and opposed an open-door Immigration Policy. French-speaking Canadians opposed it on the grounds that such a policy anti asian sentiment in early 20th century further erode the status of French Canada within Confederation.

Most English-speaking Canadians shared prejudices concerning the comparative desirability of immigrant groups. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the belief in progress and in white superiority was taken for granted throughout the Western world. Many English-speaking Canadians believed that Anglo-Saxon peoples, and British principles of government, were the apex of biological evolution and that Canada's greatness depended on its Anglo-Saxon heritage see Imperialism.

Their assessment of a group's desirability therefore varied almost directly with the degree its members conformed to British culture and physical type.

  • Many English-speaking Canadians believed that Anglo-Saxon peoples, and British principles of government, were the apex of biological evolution and that Canada's greatness depended on its Anglo-Saxon heritage see Imperialism;
  • Black and Asian Experience Last in the pecking order were blacks and Asian immigrants — Chinese , Japanese Canadians and South Asians — who were considered inferior and unable to be assimilated into Canadian society.

British and American immigrants were regarded as the most desirable, followed by northern and western Europeans, central and eastern Europeans and then by Jews and southern Europeans.

Close to the bottom of the pecking order were the pacifist religious sects, such as the German-speaking Hutterites and Mennonitesand the Russian-speaking Doukhobors. These groups were invariably lumped together by public officials and the general public. Their social isolation made their assimilation difficult. Their thrift and industry made them strong economic competitors, and their pacifism raised doubts about their commitment to Canada.

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Black and Asian Experience Last in the pecking order were blacks and Asian immigrants — ChineseJapanese Canadians and South Asians — who were considered inferior and unable to be assimilated into Canadian society. Black Canadians encountered significant prejudice in the pre-Confederation era.

By the 1860s, the 40,000 black people in Canada included descendants of slaves in New France, LoyalistsJamaican Maroons, American refugees from the War of 1812and fugitives who came to Upper Canada to escape slavery.

Many Canadians opposed slavery on moral grounds and assisted refugees from the United States. But many others feared the influx of black settlers, seeing them as backward, ignorant, immoral, criminal and an economic threat.

  1. This ended quickly at war's end, as the federal authorities expected Indigenous veterans to return to the same inferior legal, political, social and economic status that they had endured before the war. By 1982 the Charter of Rights and Freedoms extended equality and freedoms to others as well.
  2. The government also introduced restrictive immigration laws in 1906, 1910 and 1919 to control European immigration.
  3. The 1971 census showed that about 95 per cent of the Canadian population comprised those of European heritage, and it was hard to find more than five per cent who could be considered non-European.
  4. Questions arise about the rights of members of a society to extend their political and religious diversity to ethnic pluralism. Non-British and non-French groups had very little economic power, and they did not begin to make any significant inroads into the middle echelons of politics, education or the public service until after the Second World War see Elites.

Black people were treated primarily as a source of cheap labour. Following the final abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire in 1833, black Canadians encountered fewer legal barriers, but anti asian sentiment in early 20th century faced a great deal of social prejudice.

Some of the most widespread legalized patterns of discrimination occurred against Asians settling in British Columbiawhere anti-Asian sentiment was endemic from the 1850s to the 1950s. Asians were regarded as alien and inferior. Organized labour groups claimed Asians took jobs from whites and lowered living standards for all workers because they were willing to work for less money than white workers.

Asians were excluded from most unions, and as a matter of policy employers paid Asian workers less than others. Because of discriminatory legislation and social practices in BC, Chinese, Japanese and South Asians could not vote, practise law or pharmacy, be elected to public office, serve on juries, or have careers in public works, education or the civil service. Public opinion on Asian immigration was expressed on several occasions in violent anti-Chinese and anti-Asian riots. The most serious riots were in Vancouver in 1887 and 1907.

Various attempts were also made by anti-Asian groups to exclude Asians from public schoolsto restrict the sale of land to Asians and to severely limit the number of licences issued to Japanese fishermen. Black Canadians also faced a similar widespread pattern of discrimination in housing, employment and access to public services during the late 19th century and early-to-mid-20th century. They had difficulty being served in hotels and restaurants, and in being admitted to theatres and swimming pools.

On occasion they were forced into segregated schools, particularly in Nova Scotia and Ontariowhere black Canadians were most concentrated. The discrimination against blacks occasionally erupted into violence. In both world wars, armed forces units were reluctant to accept blacks, Chinese, Japanese and South Asians, although some from each group did eventually serve.

Early 20th Century Meanwhile, Chinese immigration was curbed by a "head tax" and was stopped altogether by the Chinese Immigration Act of 1923.

A gentleman's agreement was made with Japan in 1907, restricting the number of Japanese immigrants. An Order-in-Council banned immigration from India in 1907. The government also introduced restrictive immigration laws in 1906, 1910 and 1919 to control European immigration. Between 1896 and the Second World WarFrench Canadian nationalists charged that large-scale immigration particularly since little of it was French-speaking was an English Canadian plot to undermine the status of French Canada.

Jews were depicted as exploiters, as threats to Christian morality and civilization, and as symbols of the evils of internationalism, Liberalismbolshevism, materialism and urban life. Antagonism toward Jews was expressed by occasional cemetery desecrations and street fights.

The French Canadian hostility toward Jewish immigration was paralleled by the hostility of ultra-Protestants in English-speaking Canada. This group regarded Catholic immigrants from Europe as subservient tools of Rome and potential political allies of Anti asian sentiment in early 20th century Canadian Catholics.

The ethnic stereotypes of turn-of-the-century Canada emphasized the peasant origins of central, eastern and southern Europeans and Asians. It depicted immigrants as poor, illiterate, diseased, morally lax, politically corrupt and religiously deficient. The alleged tendency of central and southern Europeans for drink, violence and crime and of the Chinese for drugs, gambling and white women were powerful and popular images with the dominant society.

Ethnic slurs were widely used in the pre-1950s era.

  • In the mid-1920s, however, in response to public pressure, the federal government loosened restrictions on immigration from Europe as a way of promoting economic development;
  • Following intense lobbying by Asian groups and an increasingly sympathetic public, Asians were finally given the vote in Canada South Asians and Chinese in 1947, Japanese in 1949;
  • Prejudice and discrimination existed on both sides;
  • An Order-in-Council banned immigration from India in 1907;
  • The government also introduced restrictive immigration laws in 1906, 1910 and 1919 to control European immigration;
  • While there were significant differences in Indigenous-French and British-Indigenous relations in pre- Confederation Canada, in both cases the economic interests of the fur trade helped to cement a tolerable working relationship between the colonizers and Indigenous peoples see Indigenous Peoples:

Wartime Persecution Discrimination was one of the factors that led to a vertical mosaic of occupations and incomes in Canada. People of British descent were at the top and so on down to Chinese and black Canadians who occupied the most menial jobs. Non-British and non-French groups had very little economic power, and they did not begin to make any significant inroads into the middle echelons of politics, education or the public service until after the Second World War see Elites.

The levels of prejudice and discrimination against non-white minorities reached comparable levels for white immigrants only during periods of intense nationalism generated by war.

  • Probably the main reason behind the new tolerance toward immigrants in the 1950s and 1960s — exemplified by the passage of provincial human rights bills and codes, the federal Canadian Bill of Rights 1960 , and the creation of human rights commissions — was the erosion of the assumptions and respectability of Anglo-Saxon racism;
  • A vicious cycle of prejudice and discrimination became further entrenched during the 1930s;
  • Their social isolation made their assimilation difficult;
  • Loyalty and cultural and linguistic uniformity were assumed to be synonymous.

Some were placed under police surveillance or in internment camps. Their language schools and many of their churches were closed; their newspapers were first censored and then gradually suppressed; and during the war, rioting soldiers and civilians attacked the premises of German clubs and German-owned businesses. Loyalty and cultural and linguistic uniformity were assumed to be synonymous. Opposition to pacifist religious sects also intensified during the war. It eventually led to a 1919 order-in-council rescinded during the 1920s that specifically barred the entry of members of these groups into the country.

From 1919 to 1953 Doukhobors in BC were denied the right to vote, and this prohibition was extended to the federal level from 1934 to 1955.

The return of First World War veterans, and the postwar economic depression, brought hostility toward pacifist sects to a peak and contributed to beliefs that immigrant political radicals posed a threat to Canadian life. By the early 1920s, central, southern and eastern European immigrants were officially classified among the "non-preferred" and restricted categories of immigrants. In the mid-1920s, however, in response to public pressure, the federal government loosened restrictions on immigration from Europe as a way of promoting economic development.

During the late 1920s the federal government allowed more than 185,000 central and eastern Europeans and Mennonites into Canada as farmers, farm labourers and domestics.

Backlash This new wave of immigration re-awakened prejudices. Several of the organizations, particularly the KKK, also opposed Catholic immigrants. Its membership in Saskatchewan in the late 1920s reached 20,000. The Klan organized boycotts of Catholic businessmen, intimidated politicians who seemed sympathetic to French or Catholic interests, opposed federal immigration policy, opposed Catholic schools, and tried to prevent interracial and Catholic- Protestant marriages.

The Klan was sufficiently powerful in Saskatchewan to contribute to the defeat of the Liberals in the 1929 provincial election. A vicious cycle of prejudice and discrimination became further entrenched during the 1930s. The discrimination that non-Anglo-Saxons encountered led them to support radical political movements such as communism see Communist Party and Fascismand this in turn reinforced discrimination against them.

Between 1930 and 1935, Prime Minister R. Bennett used deportation as a way of thwarting support for the communists. In labour conflicts in western Canada and Ontario during the Great Depressiona predominantly non-Anglo-Saxon workforce was frequently pitted against an Anglo-Canadian management that attempted to destroy labour solidarity and discredit the strikers by stressing their foreign origins. Anti-Semitism also influenced immigration policy.

Canada closed its doors to Jewish immigrants at the time when they desperately needed refuge from Nazi persecution in Europe.

In rural BC during the 1920s and 1930s popular prejudice against the Doukhobors was reinforced by wartime attitudes. In 1942 the Alberta government passed a law banning all land sales to Hutterites for the duration of the war, and from 1947 to 1972 Alberta legislation restricted the amount of land Hutterite colonies could own, and the areas of the province into which they could expand. Hostility toward Japanese Canadians both before and during the Second World War was sustained, widespread and intense, especially in BC.

Waves of anti-Japanese sentiment swept BC in 1937-38, 1940 and 1941-42. In February 1942 the federal government ordered all Japanese to evacuate the Pacific coast area. Some 22,000 Japanese Canadians were relocated to the interior of BC and to other provinces, where they continued to encounter racial prejudice.

The government sold their property to preclude their return at the end of the war. By 1945 the government was also encouraging Japanese Canadians to seek voluntary deportation to Japan, and after the war these deportation plans proceeded.

Pressure anti asian sentiment in early 20th century civil rights groups finally led in 1947 to the elimination of the deportation orders, partial compensation for property losses, and in 1949 an end to the restrictions that prevented Japanese from returning to the coast. A number of developments during and after the war also undermined certain prejudices against various minority groups.

Chinese and Ukrainian Canadians won new respectability through their support for the war effort.