On the Move to Canada
Image 5. 1 Map of major South Asian migration flows. Striking Women.
Following World War II, Canada experienced a shortage in skilled labour. In 1962 and 1967, the Canadian government passed new legislation that placed a particular emphasis on skill and education for new immigrants in an effort to attract skilled workers to the country during the post-war labour shortage. The Immigration Legislation of 1962 eliminated overt discrimination based on race from Canadian immigration policy and listed skill as the main criteria for determining admissibility. The Immigration Legislation of 1967 built on this by establishing new standards for evaluating potential immigrants based on a set of skills criteria.
Image 5. 2 Ellen Fairclough was the first woman federal cabinet minister in Canada, becoming Minister of Citizenship and Immigration in 1958. She had entered Parliament in 1950 as a Progressive Conservative Member. Image courtesy of Canada Post Corporation.
During the nine-year period between 1971-1980, Canada withdrew immigration restrictions and gradually liberalized the immigration process. This new legislation made Canada an attractive choice for many communities, particularly those from the Commonwealth, who held a large number of the technical, professional, and skilled manual jobs in Kenya, who were proficient in English and had achieved a certain level of formal education as deemed necessary by the Canadian government.
However, once in Canada, finding work was not always easy. Employers refused to acknowledge skills and certification obtained outside of Canada. A lack of Canadian job experience didn’t help either. As a result, many educated and skilled Indian-Kenyans started off in low-paying jobs or working for family members.
Canada’s policy of multiculturalism was linked to the Multiculturalism Act, an ideological policy passed in 1988. It was not, however, an economic policy and therefore did not support securing financial opportunities for immigrants. The Multiculturalism Act did, nonetheless, help Indian-Kenyans retain their cultural heritage and ethnic identities and thus allowed them to establish a distinct cultural presence in Canada, making the transition easier on a social and cultural level.