Canada Flag

Emeka Balakumar

“We are not makers of history. We are made by history” a famous quote said by Martin Luther King Jr. History defines not only who we are as a country, but what it means to be Canadian in general. Throughout Canada’s history, Canadians have faced many life changing events which are used in common day Canada constantly. For example, the woman’s right events that has occurred throughout history. Without those events, Canada could not be as accepting and peaceful as many would hope to be. Throughout the content of this essay, it will how our history defines our identity and values in current day.

To begin, Identity and values are different concepts that are interrelated. Identity is defined to be the characteristics or the identification. Values on the other hand is the principles of the actions that are taken. They are connected because values define your identity. Positive values would equal to a positive identity. Our identity has changed throughout history as our values changed with it. To continue, an example of an event that has changed our identity and values is discrimination.

Discrimination has been a part of our country since early 17th century, which started with the Aboriginal. Aboriginal have been discriminated throughout history. In 1870s, the first group of residential schools open as their painful legacy starts. Residential schools were for Aboriginal kids, who were taken away from their home and family. They were stripped from their original culture and practices and harsh treatment was given to any of these students if their culture was practiced. Treatment included abuse, mental abuse, terrible treatment, etc. This treatment also includes killing during certain acts. More than 17,000 students needed to take this treatment in around 80 schools. In 1996, the Canadian government closed all residential schools. In 2008, Stephen Harper offered a formal apology on behalf of Canada over residential schools. In 2010, Canada signs the United Nations Declaration of the rights of Aboriginals. This is only one example of discrimination throughout history. Some other example of discrimination throughout history is during World War Two with the Jewish, Immigration in the 1940s, and Chinese Immigration Act of 1923. Many people think that discrimination is gone but instead it is supressed and taught in schools that it is wrong at a young age. In 1982, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms extended equality and freedoms to others who didn’t have it before.

Our identity of accepting comes into play with the history of discrimination. Our history with discrimination comes into play as all the events stated before caused the Charter of Rights to come apart of Canada. Without the Charter of Rights, many people who were discriminated before would be discriminated in today’s world. This is a key identity of Canada in today’s world when talking about Immigration.

Immigration is a big part of our current day world as Syrian Refugees is a popular topic in today’s news. This started with the first immigration act in 1869. This was a fail as not many people immigrated in comparison to emigration. In between, there were immigration acts that restricted immigration of some races due to discrimination. An example of this is the Chinese immigration act of 1923, which restricted all Chinese immigration. Throughout history, the original immigration act was changed to change the results of the act. An example of this is the immigration act of 1952, which did not change much from the original act but add points that made the government have more power over the immigration process. In 1971, the Canadian Multiculturalism policy brought by Pierre Trudeau. This was put into place to preserve the cultural freedom of the ethnicity. The Immigration act of 1976, is the first immigration act to clearly outline the Canadian immigration policy. In 2015 and 2016, Canada has let 25 000 Syrian Immigrants to enter Canada. In 2017, Syrian Refugees are still entering Canada looking forward to find a new home. These past events has changed how immigration worked and how multicultural and accepting Canada is today. Throughout the years, many different ethnicity groups have entered Canada to make Canada a more multicultural than it has been in the last decade. In 2016, almost 7 million in Canada are foreign-born which 20 percent of Canada. This shows how multicultural we have grown from the first multicultural act. This gives us the identity of accepting and multicultural.

With some of the identities of Canada presented throughout this essay, I want to explain what Canada means to me as a Canadian. To me, Canada means new home and opportunities. With having parents that were born in a poor foreign country, they have taught me the values of the opportunities that we, as Canadians, have compared to them, when they were my age. Unlike them, I have the opportunity to continue my education without working or struggling for food. I have the materials and the resources to learn. There is so many concepts that are different in my life compared to them making me see the value and worth of those opportunities. Not everyone in the world is in the same situation as Canada, and most of them are in the total opposite situations. Some kids in my age need to work to get the resources I get for free. When seeing it from their perspective, I am living their dream life. Countries should take Canada as an example and take some ideas and use them to bring some developing countries into a better conditions.

To conclude, Canada has evolved into a better country throughout history as some events, which caused devastating results, are used today to learn from. Though Canada has many good policies, it doesn’t mean we can’t improve, therefore we, as Canadians, should bring ideas that can be useful.