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South Asians

Immigrants from India, Pakistan, and Ceylon probably began to arrive about 1903. They were seen by whites to represent the same racial threat as the Chinese and Japanese. They were also denied the vote and restricted to the poorest jobs. A restriction on further immigration from South Asia was declared in 1908. In 1914 a ship, named the Komagata Maru, sailed into Vancouver harbour to challenge the restriction. On board were 376 South Asians. The authorities isolated the ship for two months, preventing the hopeful immigrants from coming ashore. It was finally forced to return to Asia. The restrictions on South Asians living in Canada were not lifted until 1947. In 1951 the restriction on immigration was eased, and a quota of only a few hundred a year was set. It was not removed until the 1960s.

Enemy Aliens

During wartime, the feelings of prejudice may boil over. During WORLD WAR I, for example, German Canadians were watched by police, fired from their jobs, and some were put in internment camps. Occasionally, rioting soldiers and civilians attacked the premises of German clubs and German-owned businesses.

The 1920s

In the 1920s immigration increased from central and eastern Europe, awakening a new wave of prejudice. Organizations such as the KU KLUX KLAN, the Native Sons of Canada, and the ORANGE ORDER called the new immigrants a threat to Canada. The Klan, which was modelled on similar organizations in the U.S., may have had about 20 000 members in Saskatchewan alone at its peak. It even had an effect on elections.

The Great Depression

During the 1930s, the pressures of the GREAT DEPRESSION worsened relations among groups. The non-Anglo-Saxon groups were the first to lose their jobs. They frequently were denied relief as well. In the 1930s, fascist groups attacked Jews. Canada closed its doors to Jewish immigration at the time when the immigrants desperately needed help.

Japanese Internment

During World War II, the Japanese suffered one of the worst acts of discrimination in Canadian history. When the Japanese navy attacked the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, it released the hatred long felt against the Japanese in Canada. The federal government ordered all Japanese to evacuate the Pacific coast area. About 22 000 Japanese were relocated to camps in interior B.C. and to other provinces. The government sold their property and tried to deport them after the war.

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