Hong Kong Immigrants in Vancouver Uneasy Partnership
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This paper is concerned with the recent wave of Hong Kong immigrants into Vancouver. The stage is set for this discussion by first explaining some background behind Canadian immigration policy and then discussing the history of Chinese immigrants in Vancouver. From these discussions we are informed that Canadian immigration policy was historically ethnocentric and only began to change in the late 1960s. It was at this point that we see a more multicultural group of immigrants into our nation. The history of Chinese immigration in Vancouver, and for that matter, Canada is not positive one. The experiences and prejudices which were developed over 100 years ago still colours the way in which we view one another.
The recent wave of Hong Kong immigrants began in the 1970s. This group is different from most others before it because of it's scale and the fact that they tend to be well-educated, affluent people. The result of their immigration into Vancouver has been a booming economy and social tension. With greater understanding and awareness on both sides we can alleviate the social tensions.
There is a school in Vancouver which is offering a four year immersion programme to its students. That in itself is not highly unusual in our bilingual nation, what is unusual is that the language of choice for the immersion programme is not French, it is Mandarin. The programme was voted in by parents who believed the Mandarin language to be more important to their children's futures in Vancouver than French. This situation shows quite effectively the transition which is taking place in Canada's third largest city. Vancouver is a city which is consistently looking more and more to the Pacific Rim nations, especially Hong Kong, for its economic and social connections.
Vancouver is the most asian Canadian city in outlook. At $1.3 Billion, British Columbia accounts for the greatest Asian investment of all the provinces. As the urban center of the province, Vancouver is the destination for most of this capital. With an Asian population of over 18%, perhaps it is not so surprising that so much Asian capital is invested in the city. The draw of Vancouver for Asians has numerous reasons including, security, an opportunity to continue business in Asia, and a feeling of welcome. The result is that the city is being completely rebuilt with asian money. As a consequence of this influx, all is not well, there are tensions within the city that have recently been surfacing. Before entering into this discussion, however, it is important to understand the context of immigration in Canada as well as the history of asian immigration into our nation.
Jurisdiction over immigration is shared between the Federal and Provincial governments. The Federal government is responsible for establishing admission requirements while the provinces are becoming increasingly interested in the selection of applicants and their settlement. The governments set out numerous controls, including those over the ethnocultural composition of incoming immigrants, the total number of immigrants admitted, the categories of immigrants admitted, and the regional settlement of immigrants once they arrive.
History of Immigration in Canada
Historically, Canadian immigration policy has been consistently ethnocentric. It was only recently that the Canadian government sought to maintain a 'white' society by selectively advertising abroad as well as granting prospective applicants from Europe, the US, New Zealand, and Australia preferential treatment. During the 1960s this distinction between preferred and non-preferred contries was replaced with a points-system. Along with the new points-system it was hoped that applicants from all countries and of all ethnic origins were treated equally. The effects of this shift has been significant.
As can be seen in the above table, the majority of the immigrants arriving before 1967 were of European background. From 1967 onward the flow of immigrants has been internationalized.
Throughout the 20th Century the Canadian government has set targets for the number of immigrant entries based upon economic criteria. Periods of encouragement have included the early decades of this century along with the reconstruction era of Post World War II. The 30s, 40s and the recession of the early 80s have been periods during which the national government has discouraged immigration. At times, economic concerns have given way to humanitarian ones such as during the Soviet invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, and during the
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Demography, Population, Immigration to Canada, Canadians, Vancouver, Immigration, Asian Canadian, Chinese Canadians, Economic impact of immigration to Canada
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