For Canada, Asia does not exist “over there.” It is, has been, and will continue to be, right here, contributing to and shaping our country. Canada’s citizenry includes over 7.5 million people — almost 22 per cent of the population — who were born outside Canada. Recent immigrants to this country are more likely to have come from Asia and the Middle East than from Europe. Chinese ancestry, East Indian ancestry and Filipino ancestry are among the 20 most common ancestries reported by the Canadian population. (Census of Canada, 2016).
This collection of articles, exhibits, images and quizzes explores francophone Canada in all its complexity, bringing its communities, institutions and struggles for language and education rights into focus. It also showcases francophone culture in Canada, from arts, literature, music, folklore and symbols to the identity and heritage of these communities. Above image: Saint Boniface Cathedral, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Nov. 2013. 38962960 © Wwphoto | Dreamstime.com
Canada has its roots in immigration and remains a nation formed of many different communities. From European colonization of Aboriginal territory to the recent arrival of refugees from Syria, the laws and regulations governing immigration to Canada have long been marked by discrimination. On the other hand, Canadians have shown their humanity by welcoming several hundred thousand refugees with open arms over the course of the country’s history. As a result, diverse cultural, religious and linguistic communities have established themselves here and integrated into Canadian society — some with relative ease, others with greater difficulty. Through articles, features, exhibits and timelines, this collection explores the diversity that defines Canadian society today. Image below: Vancouver's Chinatown, ca. 1955. © Rolly Ford/Heritage Vancouver.
Benjamin Hart, businessman (b at Montréal 10 Aug 1779; d at New York, NY 27 Feb 1855). Brother of Moses Hart and son of Aaron Hart, a prominent Trois-Rivières merchant, Benjamin followed his father's occupation, first at Trois-Rivières and Montréal, then almost exclusively in Montréal.
Maurice Ruddick, coal miner, musician (born 1912 in Joggins, NS; died 1988 in Springhill, NS). After a mine shaft caved in on Ruddick and six other workers, he helped keep his companions’ spirits up by singing and leading them in song and prayer. He later described the experience in "Spring Hill Disaster," the song he wrote about the event. Ruddick and the other "miracle miners" enjoyed public attention briefly after the disaster. For Ruddick, the only Black person in the group, racism dimmed his moment in the spotlight.
Arlene Duncan, actor, singer, songwriter (born in Oakville, Ontario). Arlene Duncan is an award-winning actress and singer who has worked extensively in theatre, television, radio and film, but is perhaps best-known for her role as the conservative and crotchety café owner Fatima Dinssa on the hit CBC Television series “Little Mosque on the Prairie” (2007–12).
Leonard Austin Braithwaite, CM, OOnt, QC, lawyer, politician (born 23 October 1923 in Toronto, ON; died 28 March 2012 in Toronto). Braithwaite was the first Black Canadian elected to a provincial legislature. He served as a Liberal member of the Ontario Legislature from 1963 to 1975.
Clement Virgo, director, producer, writer (b at Montego Bay, Jamaica 1 June 1966). Clement Virgo came with his family to Canada in 1977 and attended West Preparatory Public School in north Toronto before the family moved to Regent Park, the city's largest public-housing estate, known for its troubles with drugs and crime.
Bruny Surin, athlete (b at Cap Haïtien, Haiti, 12 July 1967). Surin was just seven years old when he immigrated to Québec. At the age of 17, he took an interest in the long jump and the triple jump. As a member of the Canadian team, he finished 15th in the long jump at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.