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The deep roots of Canada’s multi-ethnic society

Members of the Chinese, Italian, South Asian, Jewish, Ukrainian and other communities joined Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney to celebrate the success of the Community Historical Recognition Program. “Canada is committed to recognizing and educating Canadians about the experiences of those pioneers who overcame such heavy burdens,” said the minister. “Their experiences mark an unfortunate period in our nation’s history. We must ensure that they are never forgotten.”

The Community Historical Recognition Program was established in 2008 to acknowledge and to educate all Canadians about how certain ethno-cultural communities were affected by wartime discriminatory measures and immigration restrictions applied in Canada.

The program has made available $13.5 million to support 68 community projects.

The program has funded a wide variety of prestigious projects across Canada, such as commemorative monuments, documentaries, books, exhibits and plays.

Among them, the documentary Lost Years: The Chinese Canadian Struggle for Justice created by the Chinese Graduates Association of Alberta, which received two nominations for the 2013 Canadian Screen Awards; the Komagata Maru monument, built prominently on Vancouver’s Harbour Green Park by the Khalsa Diwan Society; the travelling exhibit Italian Canadians During World War II: From Memory to Legacy, produced by the Columbus Center of Toronto, which is set to travel Canada-wide over the next three years; and None is too Many: Memorializing the MS St. Louis, which comprises a historical monument at Pier 21 in Halifax harbour; teaching materials, and a national youth essay-writing contest.

The Komagata Maru monument, for instance, honours the arrival of the Sikh community in Canada. The Komagata Maru was a ship that arrived in Vancouver harbour in 1914, carrying 376 passengers from India. Most of the passengers were not allowed to land because the ship did not make a continuous journey to Canada, as was prescribed by Canadian immigration laws at the time.

“I am confident that the memorials and the stories shared will not only serve as effective reminders of a difficult time in our history, but also recognize the enormous contributions these communities have made to build Canada,” said Kenney.

For each community, an advisory committee was mandated to advise on eligible and meaningful projects to the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism. In addition to the Community Historical Recognition Program, the Government of Canada also established the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund to support projects that commemorate the experiences of all affected communities during that period. This fund has been managed by the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko.

Learn more about the history of the Canada’s multi-ethnic social fabric at www.CIC.gc.ca/CHRP.

Posted: Apr 3, 2013

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