For decades the USA have been the country where dreams come true. Terms as “from Rags to Riches“, “from dishwasher to millionaire“ or “self-made man“ made their way across the sea and through countries, to the ears of those that have not been so fortunate in their present surrounding and those longing for a change in their life. A country shaped by immigrants and open to everybody that wants to live the American Dream.
However, the bubbles filled with these dreams exploded over the years and economic crises, racism, taxes and wars opened the eyes to those who were blinded by the shiny lights. All of a sudden, they lost their dreams in the middle of the melting pot. When the front of New York's biggest skyscrapers broke and the symbol for the economic power caved in on 11th September 2001, it became clear that Miss Liberty would finally turn its back towards the huddled masses. From this day on, immigrants faced a defensive line that not even the good intentions and dreams could overcome.
So what are the dream catchers supposed to do? Wait until the USA decides that not every stranger is a potential terrorist? Why not search for another country with endless opportunities and enough space to settle?
In the most recent years the masses found the country able to provide almost everything the USA has offered in the last century: work, security, space and the opportunity to do and to be almost everything you want. Canada has become the new place to be, but it has also a long history of immigration. Immigrants have a new dream, the dream of the red maple leaf on innocent white background. Uncle Sam caught fire and is facing his doom and along with him burns the American Dream. Meanwhile, rises a new Phoenix from the ashes: the Canadian Dream.
2. The History of Immigration
Today it is hard to find out who is actually an immigrant. Nonetheless DNA is used to provide a vague answer to the origin of an immigrant because humans pass their genes to their successors and so the traces of the ancestry remain within everyone (Bodvarsson, 11). Furthermore, the work of anthropologists, archeologists and paleontologists provides further scientific knowledge about the roots of immigration. Even linguists contribute important information to this discussion in the way of language analysis. Most academically research suggests “that all humans alive today descended from earlier homo sapient who lived in Africa 60, 000 years ago.” (Bodvarsson, 11). Of course this theory is not accepted by the church and it still has not made its way into all biology classes in the world, still, it is one possible answer to the question of our origin.
Fact is that people have moved around the world for decades due to several reasons such as climate changes, natural disasters or wars (Bodvarsson, 382). Additionally inventions for example the boat had severe impacts on these developments. Research proved that 40,000 years ago, people already lived in Australia and on other islands without connection to the mainland (Bodvarsson, 11). Today's scientists determine the beginning of settlement around 10,000 years ago, when urbanization and farming replaced the concept of the hunter and gatherer (Bodvarsson, 12).
Subsequently, from 1500 until today, movement increased remarkably. In other words “75 million Europeans left their native countries and emigrated to what is now Canada, the United States, Argentina, Brazil and many smaller countries” (Bodvarsson, 12). This number does not include the amount of slaves taken to these countries between 1500 and 1900. One example of such a severe movement is the migration between Pakistan and India. In 1947, approximately 7 million Muslims moved from India into the former colony of India, which is today Pakistan, meanwhile an equal number of Hindus were moved in the opposite direction from Pakistan to India (Bodvarsson, 12, 13).
In Canada “the first permanent settlements […] did not occur until 1604” (Bodvarsson, 382) when a colony was established by Samuel de Champlain. Nonetheless the popularity of colonies in the south was much higher due to the favorable climate in the “13 British colonies that would become the United States.”(Bodvarsson, 382). Despite that, people, who were in favor of the British government, decided to immigrate in large numbers to Canada when the Empire lost the Revolutionary War (Bodvarsson, 382).
Throughout the 1800s the border to the U.S. was open to Canadian immigrants which had the effect that many people arriving in Canada decided to move there, instead of choosing the “forested lands of Canada” (Bodvarsson, 382).
Canadian immigration has been meticulously recorded since 1860. Along with the settlement of the west of Canada and the offer of free land to every settler, came the highest number of 400,000 immigrants to the country in one year (Research and Evaluation Branch, 2). Since 1905 such a high number has never been reached again. After the declaration of the “Immigration Act” in 1906 and during the time of the Great Depression the amount of people immigrating to Canada decreased and hit rock bottom in the 1930s. However, in the 1950s the effects of World War II lead to a total number of approximately half a million immigrants (Research and Evaluation Branch, 2).
Looking at the numbers from 1990 until today, one may recognize that the data is almost stable with variability between 200,000 and 250,000 (Research and Evaluation Branch, 2).