Chapter 1: The History of Settlement Services in Canada


This chapter has given you an overview of the history of settlement in Canada that presents historical data as well as context for that data. This chapter gives you underlying reference points that will help them understand how the settlement and integration sector has evolved in response to the evolving sociopolitical  factors over a period of 150 years. The sociopolitical milestones during this time have influenced the best practices in the settlement sector.

Key Takeaways

The following is a summary of the learnings from this chapter:

  1. Canada was a land of Indigenous Peoples long before it was officially “discovered” in 1497 by Giovanni Caboto, an Italian explored who named the “New Land.” Caboto discovered the New Land when he decided to travel west to China instead of east.
  2. Canada was a furtrading destination for the Hudson’s Bay Company in the 1600s. The fur trade initiated the settlement of English and French colonists from European countries.
  3. Canada’s growth and immigration started in the late 1800s and early 1900s to help with the economic growth in industry, agriculture, and infrastructure.
  4. There are three milestones in immigration history that were based on geopolitical trends and social theories:
    • The early 1900s favoured immigrants from white European countries and discouraged non-white immigrants. The Chinese head tax was a historical example of systemic racism during that time. Non-white Europeans were seen as cheap labour and were not eligible for permanent residency. During this time, there were two additional groups of non-white immigrants who came to Canada illegally and who were allowed to stay as sources of labour— former British soldiers from the Punjab and Japanese men who arrived as stowaways from Japan.
    • The second milestone covered a period that brought immigrants affected by overseas political strife in European countries during and after World War II. Canada’s allied support  resulted in the internment of Canadians from countries that were at war with Canada’s allies—Britain, France, and the United States. Consequently, in support of these allies, Canada interned German, Italian, and Japanese Canadians out of fear of in-country alliances with enemy countries such as Germany, Italy, and Japan.
    • The third milestone reflected a new wave of social consciousness in the 1960s and 1970s that eliminated discrimination against non-European immigrants. At this time, Canada opened its borders to refugees from all countries. Canada also was the first country in the world to create a fair and objective point system that used eligibility criteria based on the needs of the economy and eliminated biased criteria based on race.
  5. The settlement sector grew in capacity parallel to the establishment of systematic government oversight of the immigration system. The sector has built a body of research and knowledge that informs the evolving best practices of settlement and integration service providers.

In summary, this chapter provides examples of how far the settlement services sector has evolved throughout the history of immigration. As a result of the learnings throughout the different milestones in social and political ideology, the sector has been professionalized and has acknowledged that there is unique knowledge, competencies, and expertise required by practitioners in the settlement sector.


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Canadian Settlement in Action: History and Future Copyright © 2021 by NorQuest College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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