Heather Perrault

The Canadian Immigration Act of 1869, and the subsequent amendments made to it, have been central to and directed toward the establishment of Canadian nationhood. By using the works of Ernest Gellner and Stuart Hall, and exploring in detail the Act over an hundred year period, the author of this paper argues that while race was used as a discriminating factor in immigration policy as late as 1976 – because race has never been a fixed concept, but rather intertwined with systems of control – it remained malleable and therefore useful in the project of developing a modern Canada. Certainly different groups were racialized at different points in Canadian history, and this was reflected in immigration policy. But who was racialized, and decisions on which groups were allowed to enter Canada and which groups were restricted, could be adjusted in order for Canada to meet the demands – most notably economic – of a modern sovereign nation.

La Loi sur l‘immigration de 1869, ainsi que les modifications qui ont suivi, ont été centrales à l‘établissement de la nation canadienne. Même et malgré le fait que la race a été un facteur de discrimination dans la Loi jusqu‘en 1976 – parce que la race n‘a jamais été un concept fixe, mais entrelacé avec d‘autres systèmes de contrôle – le concept est resté malléable et donc utile au projet de développement du Canada moderne. Cet article ce penchera sur une analyse historique de la Loi de l‘immigration sur une période de plus de 100 ans, ainsi que sur les travaux d‘Ernest Gellner et de Stuart Hall. Divers groupes ont certainement connu le racisme à certains moments dans l‘histoire du Canada, et cela s‘est illustré dans les politiques sur l‘immigration. Qui a connu ces périodes de discrimination? Cette histoire complexe se doit d‘être reconnue afin que le Canada puisse satisfaire les exigences, surtout économiques, d‘un pays moderne et souverain.

Heather is completing the final semester of her Master of Arts degree in the School of Canadian Studies at Carleton University. Her specialization is in Heritage with a focus on the relationship between public history, commemoration, material culture, and collective memory. She has attended the Applied Museum Studies Program at Algonquin College and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History as well as a Bachelor of Arts High Honours in Literature with a minor in Canadian Studies.  Her research interests include Canadian visual, cinematographic, and literary art history, cultural policy, military history and the memorialization of war, as well as Canadian urban, immigration, and settlement histories.


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