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Canada, nation of immigrants

Although from 1800 Canadian citizens were born in the territory of Canada, all of them, except the aboriginal population, had a foreign origin, fundamentally European. Today, Canada is considered a nation of immigrants because in the last 200 years of its history millions of foreigners have come to the country to be part of the Canadian life system, granting diversity and multiculturalism to the population and reaffirming the idea that the majority of Canadians are descendants of immigrants.

Currently, the total population of immigrants in Canada is estimated at 6 million people, from different backgrounds. Every year, immigrants from more than 150 countries decide to become Canadian citizens.

According to the 2011 census, more than 200 ethnic backgrounds are calculated in Canada.

57.9% of the Canadian population have an ethnic origin and the remaining 42.1% have multiple ethnic backgrounds.

Aboriginal peoples

The first inhabitants of Canada were the aborigines. It is believed that they came from Asia. They would have emigrated to North America thousands of years before the first European settlers arrived. They had a rich and diverse culture and lived in harmony with the environment. They lived from hunting, land and gathering. They frequently made war, as they competed for land, resources and power.

The arrival of the first European settlers (soldiers, missionaries, merchants) forever changed the life and culture of indigenous peoples. Many Aboriginal people died fighting for the domination of their lands or simply for European diseases for which they were not prepared. In spite of the setbacks, the aborigines and the Europeans ended up strengthening strong economic and military ties in the first 200 years of coexistence, which, in short, laid the foundations of the Canadian nation.

Between 1800 and 1980, the federal government promoted policies of cultural assimilation of the aboriginal population. The children were forced to study in public schools, where they had to learn the values ​​and general principles of the Canadian way of life. The cultural and aboriginal languages ​​were minimized, while the cultural elements of the Canadian white majority were exalted. In 2008, the government rectified this policy and public apologies to the indigenous population.

At present, Aboriginal peoples are protected and their culture is respected and preserved with great zeal. They have rights over the lands where they live, over their resources and are governed by their own laws, but integrated into Canadian society.

The aboriginal term refers today to three distinct groups: the Indians, commonly called First Nations; the Inuits, who populate the Arctic, and whose knowledge of land, sea and wildlife enables them to survive in one of the most hostile environments on the planet; and the Métis, which are the result of the mixture of the aborigines and the first Europeans – English and French – who arrived in the country.

European settlers

The first explorers to arrive in North America came from Europe, in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In 1497, Jhon Cabot, an Italian navigator in the service of the English crown, explored the Canadian Atlantic coast for the first time, stepped on Newfoundland and claimed the territory for England, although the English settlement did not begin until 1610.

Subsequently, Jacques Cartier made three expeditions on behalf of the French crown. He explored the surrounding lands of the San Lorenzo River, what is now the territory of Quebec, and gave the place the name of Canada, a word that in the huron-iroquois dialect means town (“kanata”).

Canada’s migratory waves

In the 18th and 19th centuries, many immigrants as slaves entered from Africa. Also, from the United States, where they fled to seek refuge in Canada, a nation that abolished slavery long before the United States, in 1834.

In the end, Canada is a mixture of ethnic groups from all over the world. Will you make Canada your new home? Find more info at

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